Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Neda will Stay!

I wrote this in reaction to the tragic death of Neda. I am writing this piece as I am in Bangladesh for my summer internship. This is only a way for me to try and calm down and express all this grief and…

Since last week, not a single moment has passed without Neda. I did not know Neda. But I feel I know her well enough to tell you all about her …I know Neda now… Neda, like you and I, loves to live a life full of happiness and achievements. She loves to smile. Her smile is dream-like and beautiful. She could talk for hours and analyze the world with her philosophical theories. It’s so cute when she speaks her mind in this profound way that resembles a post-modern version of the Greek philosophers.

Like many of us young women, she enjoys looking pretty. She spends some time in front of the mirror every morning and night making sure her eyebrows are symmetrically done, putting on her eye shadow, fixing her hair….She keeps up with fashion religiously…A fashionable and beautiful philosopher…

Neda has been with me in the streets of Bangladesh. In fact, we went shopping the other day one of the chaotic (but fascinating) bazaars of Chittagong. We both acted very silly in our Bangladeshi outfits. All the men were staring us down in the street as they could tell we are not from around here. They would say, “Madam, hello….hello…how are you?” We both would giggle and walk away as soon as we would hear their silly greeting words in English. We bought some random things like T-shirts, scarves and things. We bought mango and peanuts.

Neda looked very beautiful in her Bangladeshi dress(Shalwar and Kameez).It was my second time wearing their traditional outfit and it was her first time. At first we both felt funny, but then we were entertained by our new look. Her dress was bright yellow. She looked like the Lady Sun that has one day decided to come down on this planet and look around. She looked so stunningly beautiful.

Neda told me about these past few years in Iran and how she is just sick of the restrictions she faces in the university and in the streets. She told me she loved her family and that they are the best part of her life. She, like me, said that she loves her dad. She said that she knew of my mother and that she had read some of her articles on women’s rights in Iran. She told me about some of her friends’ house parties in Iran. She said that despite all the restrictions, they always find a way to at least have a little bit of fun.

Neda followed me to the dormitory in which I stay here in Chittagong. I introduced her to some of the students of the university for which I am interning. They loved her. They told me, “Miss, it’s great that you have brought your friend. She is so kind and so beautiful…” Neda talked with some of them about their lives and dreams. They just loved Neda. One of the girls sat next to Neda for a few hours and said to her, “Miss, I just want to sit next to you. Tell us about Iran.” Neda talked and talked and they listened and listened.

When the girls left my room late at night, I thought Neda must be tired. So, I went and prepared the bathroom so that she could take a shower before going to bed. I stepped out the bathroom to tell her that the bathtub is ready for her and that I left her shampoo, conditioner and a clean towel. She was not there. I looked for her. She was not in the room. She was nowhere to be found.

Staring at the video clip of her that was not even a minute long, I cried all night. The damn internet was too slow here in Bangladesh for me to understand what was happening in the video clip. It would get stuck on a scene and get blurry. Looking at the blood that had covered all over her stunningly beautiful face made me nauseous. Along with her father I screamed, “Neda…Neda….” No one heard me. I did not even hear myself. I felt some scary and violent man was cutting my nerves off from inside my body. I looked away just because I could not see the rest of this brutality; “brutality” is an underestimated way to describe what happened to Neda. I looked at the bed that I had prepared for Neda. Her yellow dress was sitting there; ripped and with blood stains all over. I cried and screamed and sobbed. I am shattered like a mirror that has gotten shattered into a million and half pieces.
I cry and think about the uselessness of my tears. Neda is gone and there is nothing I can do to bring her back to this world. There is nothing I can do to apologize for what happened to her. There is nothing I can do to give the world even one more chance of witnessing her beautiful smile.

They call her a martyr now. She was simply a young woman like you and I who wanted to freely walk, smile, love, dress, talk….Give our Neda back to us. I will never forget….forgive? You slaughtered Neda. No, I won’t forgive. I will try hard to forgive. I will try. But I doubt that I can. Give our Neda back. Give her back. Do you even have a heart in your chest? You shot her in the chest…Close to her heart. Do you even have one yourself? Bring my Neda, our Neda, Iran’s Neda back to us….Bring her back.

“Neda, fear not!” “Neda, Stay!” “Neda, Stay!” “Neda, Stay!”…The last words of her father….Did she hear these words? I hope that the angel of our dreams who is sitting somewhere in our most beautiful dreams and is looking at us with hope from afar, heard her father’s last words….they were the most important words for the future of Iran and I hope she heard them. We need Neda to stay. Neda will stay. She will. Neda will stay forever. She will stay even after we all die. She will be our name. She will be the name of our generation, our land, our loss, all the humiliations that we have undergone since childhood, our dreams and our resistance. Neda will stay and take the revenge of our generation with her peaceful, beautiful and innocent smile. She will. It is now your turn to be scared of her smile. You slaughtered her with your bullets. Now it is your turn to fear her beautiful eyes that imply nothing but peace and the dream of freedom and youthful happiness.

Her blood stained your divine talk for good. Neda will stay. She will.


At 11:56 PM, June 24, 2009, Blogger social worker said...

Hey Babe, This is so terrible and I wish i could just sit by you....and help in some way.....Hope to see you at school

At 2:46 AM, June 25, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salaam, I appreciate your words.
From what I read, the man near Neda was not her dad, but a doctor who happened to be there at the time Neda was shot. This doctor has now fled Iran. Also, she was not accompanied by her father in the demonstration, but by her music teacher.

What somehow enrages me, is that old martyr rhetorics that people (especially analysts and journalists out of Iran) are trying to attach to Neda's death. They are saying: Neda is our new martyr, and her martyrdom will ignite even more the revolt, because the cult of martyrs is deeply embedded in the Iranian/shiite culture. Exactly, the martyrdom of many people by the police was what ignited the first revolution against shah.

But I tell: no! In Iran, people don't need new martyrs to venerate in order to find the courage to go in the streets. They go in the street because they love life and they want freedom, democracy and justice, they don't want to live under a state that is like a jail.
I'm sure that Neda, like the majority of young Iranians, didn't think at all the becoming "martyr" was a desirable goal: these are the dreams of youth in Gaza, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Egypt. They like to become martyrs because they believe that "this worldy life is worth nothing, compared to the afterlife". But the IRANIAN youth, who are taught since elementary school how it is nice to be a martyr and to sacrifice your life for religion, are rebelling exacting AGAINST this: they like THIS life, they like music, singing, dressing fashionably, traveling, having a boyfriend, going out with friends, using the web..

So, let's not cry for the martyr's holy blood, but let's remember the simple girl's smile..



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