Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Caroling

Another semester ended and I am now in Boston to visit my mom. It’s Christmas and everywhere is decorated with red and green ribbons! Christmas makes me miss our own Eid e Norooz so much… The excitement that comes with it…Everything should be in order as if the end of the world or rather the beginning of the world is approaching. The smell of the new clothes and all those ‘eidees’ that are awaiting you…
One of my wonderful American friends who goes to school with me in Ohio and whose family live in Boston, invited me to a Christmas Caroling party in her small town outside Boston. I, of course accepted her invitation, not knowing what a Christmas Caroling party is really all about. When we got to the party, I took off my coat, but my friend told me that I’d better hang on to it since we will be heading out soon. I was thinking to myself, “Out? Why? It’s really cold? Didn’t we just get here?” In a short while our hosts who were all covered in their big winter coats asked everybody to leave the house with them. It was something like 30 of us. The hosts gave us little booklets full of Christmas Caroling songs. We stood outside the house next-door and everybody started to sing off the booklet. I also opened the small red booklet and started to pretend to sing;

Jingle Bells
Dashing Through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go,
Laughing all the way

Jingle bells jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

We sang many other songs that I had never even heard in my entire life!
They all sounded very charming and spiritual . As we were singing, a couple of little cute children came outside the house and stared at us with a glow in their eyes. It was obvious that they were expecting Santa Claus. We went from one house to another in this small town, singing and wishing children and their families a happy Christmas.
Some of the people in our group asked where I am from. I would say, “Iran”. One responded, “Oh, the Arabia. How is it living over there?” The other said, “Oh, wow, really? Really?” Another person that had heard my mother is a women’s rights activist said to me, “Now help me with this: So do you guys have ‘feminism’ in there? Is feminism allowed?”
The whole time, I kept on thinking that I might be one the few non-Christian Iranians who is put Caroling that night. I felt unique and like a girl who is in love with exploring things that don’t belong to her. She just wants to pass by and observe as many things as possible on her way in this life. That night I felt that I had sneaked into one of those colorful books that growing up in Iran, my relatives used to send me from the West. I didn’t feel real. I had transformed into a steamy dream somewhere faraway behind the stars that I used to count from my bed in Tehran every night before falling asleep.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Another Tragedy...

This is unbelievably tragic…
I’m talking about the airplane that crashed into a residential building in Tehran today. I was just looking at the pictures on BBC website. Horrifying! Most of the passengers were reporters and journalists and now they are all gone?
And most of the residents of that building are injured and we don't know how many of them have passed away...

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).

Part Four: Time and Eternity


BECAUSE I could not stop for Death, 1
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste, 5
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played
At wrestling in a ring; 10
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible, 15
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity. 20

I didn’t know any of them. But I miss them….

Are you really tired of politics? What's the main reason for that??????????”

Hi. Sorry for not having written for quite a few days. Finals and papers.
A female anonymous reader of my mom’s weblog who had followed the link to my weblog (Kar’s daughter) had written me a comment a couple of weeks ago. She had written that she thinks that what I write is rubbish and that I am spoiled and nothing like Mehrangiz Kar whom she respects a lot. She had written for me that no one cares about what a privileged girl like me does during the day.
Anyhow, I wrote her back to thank her for having criticized me and we exchanged a few friendly comments in the comment section of the first entry of my weblog. In her last comment she asked me to answer a few questions:

“dear Azi,
There is a question in my mind that bothers me that i wanna ask you and that is why the most prominent figures' children like your mom don't follow their parents' ways of life?
Are you really tired of politics? What's the main reason for that??????????”

I must admit that her questions impressed me, since they indeed, more or less resemble the kinds of questions that never leave me alone. Even though I won’t be able to answer these questions thoroughly, I am going to try to address as many issues in regards to her questions as I could.

Ok, so let’s think about who Mehrangiz Kar is to you? A prominent figure that has worked for women rights and has taken risks for many years? A controversial figure? You respect her? You hate her? An author? A lawyer? A scholar?

Well, as you could probably guess Mehrangiz Kar is simply one word for me and that is Mimi, my mom. As her daughter, I don’t need any of her labels to be able to recognize her. She is the woman who has given birth to me. And she is clearly a woman that I severely love.

For the past 20 years I have been a part of her. I have been a part of her struggles. I have grown up in her law firm in Tehran listening to the legal discussions that she would have with her clients. I have been part of her professional happiness, hardships, worries and terrors. I have gone to visit her in the prison, I have heard her secretly cry and moan after her chemotherapies and I am witnessing the painful days of her exile…

That is why in this very complex and peculiar way I am Mehrangiz Kar.
And yet I am NOT.

Since childhood this irony has been chasing me around. It has challenged me greatly. Sometimes it has made me feel strong and confident and sometimes it has made feel that I am nobody aside from Mehrangiz Kar’s daughter. There has always been a voice in my mind telling me that I have to become her, to act like her and to maintain the same social and political image as hers. Meanwhile, there has always been a desire and urgency in me that has raised the concept of individuality in my mind.

It is only recently that I have come to some realizations about this matter. So nowadays I certainly do acknowledge myself as Mehrangiz Kar’s daughter and I have become curious to know more about her as a professional, too.

It is however not easy for me to think of Mimi and Mehrangiz Kar as the same person. They simply are two different persons for me. Mimi is my best friend whom with I laugh, gossip, argue and etc. Mimi is the woman who can read my mind in an instant. She is the one from whom I can never hide anything. Nothing. She just is inside me. She knows me better than myself. She wants me to succeed more than I do. Mehrangiz Kar, on the other hand is the one who is in books, articles, interviews, lectures and documentaries. Mehrangiz Kar is in Google search engine and in the media.

Sometimes when I am frustrated and worried for my beloved Mimi, I unconsciously start to blame Mehrangiz Kar in my mind.

-It is because of you that Mimi is now in exile. It’s because of you that going to Iran is a risk for Mimi. It’s because of you that she went to prison. It’s because of you that she is lonely these days. It’s because of you that she has had to start a new life in the US and has had to struggle with learning a new language, English during the past few years. It’s because of you that she doesn’t know what is going to happen to her if she returns to Iran. It’s because of you that she has been displaced in this wonderland of North America.

And often while these thoughts are going on in my mind, some nice person comes to me and says;

- Are you Mehrangiz Kar’s daughter? Nice to meet you. I respect your mother and admire her work and her strength. You have to live up to her standards.

Now let’s go back my anonymous friend’s question. I have decided to embrace Mimi’s legacy in her personal and professional life. It is the ethics and the humanistic ideas behind her work that are the most important to me. What is the least important to me is her politics.

After all, politics has been my third parent in my life. Some people say that they hate politics and some say that they love politics. For me, however political discussions and arguments have been my lullaby growing up. Who knows, my friend, I might one day choose to devote my life to politics, my third parent! But that does not mean that I will have to choose to follow my prominent parents’ path. I don’t think that it is logically possible for a person to follow another persons’ path from 4-5 generations ago. Mimi and I are from very different generations with very different characteristics. I will have to struggle and fight against different matters during my professional life. Mimi and I have our roots in very different settings. We are different people. Thus, that is why I will remain loyal to Mimi’s legacy, the most beautiful gift that one could ever inherit… Mimi’s legacy….
But I won’t become Mehrangiz Kar.

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