Hallucinations of a Decade
Sitting at the window of my sister’s apartment on the twenty sixth floor of a building in Toronto, I look at the city of Toronto and its many apartment buildings that resemble matchboxes .It is going to be 2010 tomorrow. The insomniac ghost that I am, I sit here at four in the morning and let my mind loose. Looking at the sea of these little windows and apartments in the city calms me down. Having watched the YouTube clips that come from Iran, I am emotionally disturbed. I do not know what to say anymore. I feel numb. Many dear friends of mine are in prison in Tehran…Who knows where…I imagine them sitting down in a solitary confinement. I imagine them terrified, strong or maybe senseless. I imagine them and try to remember their faces. I imagine them being humiliated. I imagine them wanting to survive. This is how we are starting a new year; a new decade.This is how we are welcoming another three hundred sixty five days and nights.
My friend calls me in the middle of the night and asks me, “How are you?” I wonder how I am or rather I wonder how I should be. I wonder if I matter. I say, “I’m ok. Everybody is ok here” and I chuckle. He asks me again (this time authoritatively), “Azadeh, I mean YOU. How are YOU, my dear?” It is funny how you sometimes don’t want to know how you are. You just don’t want to know. You want to disappear in your dear ones’ sorrow. You want to disappear and not know how you are doing, because you can’t do anything about the things that bother you to death. You just could sit, relax and watch Youtube clips of the people of your country dying and getting hit with huge bricks, getting run over, bleeding, screaming, and burning a police station. You just watch and watch. You watch until you go from being shocked to crying to being angry to be disgusted and to being numb. You get so numb that you could watch those awful clips over and over again without any emotional turmoil. You watch until you die from within. You watch and comb your hair while watching obsessively.
In this emotional afterlife, you begin life once again. This time you live in a labyrinth with shattered glasses and mirrors. You see yourself in a thousand different ways. You see yourself sandwiched between a calm North American city and many people your age chanting out slogans while bleeding. You see yourself in a million different pieces. One piece is a little happy child with curly hair running around a garden in Shomal(northern Iran),playing in the Caspian sea, getting hit by little waves and laughing and laughing and laughing. Another piece is a teenage veiled and extremely fashionable girl who is running and escaping from the moral police who are chasing after her in the streets of Tehran to punish her for her not being sufficiently veiled. Another piece is a mute high school student in the United States who does not know English enough to even make friends. Another piece is…Another piece is you voting for the first time to President Khatami and dying of joy of having become an adult. Another piece is years later watching your friends in graduate school cheering for President Obama. Another is the image of an awfully unfamiliar man named Ahmadinejad whose grin scares you. Another piece is you sitting at the library in the middle of the night, taking a break from writing a paper that is due in a few hours and watching YouTube links all the way from Khomeini’s first speech in Tehran till now when your friends chant out slogans and get hit on the street. Time stops. Time runs. Places become compressed into one and that one place loses its space. You become compressed in this spaceless labyrinth. You sort of exist in short intervals and the longer intervals are when you become nonexistent. You begin to exist only to realize that you don’t have enough space to breathe and the cycle repeats itself.
2010? Tomorrow is a new year and a new decade. What is my new year’s resolution? What is my biggest wish? MY wish or a whole nation’s wish? My wish, I guess, is a small one. I just want to be able to wipe off blood from my friends’ faces, embrace them and tell them that they are making history. Even though history is a hilarious word when you are in pain, maybe only the thought of history could kill your pain momentarily. My wish is for my friends in prison to know that they are not forgotten. My wish is that they don’t lose their pride. My wish is to remain nonviolent,strong and proud. My wish is love. My wish is for this labyrinth to regain its space for all of us Iranians and all others who live in fear. My wish is for us to breathe and to at least dream about freedom for our country freely. One of the dearest friends of mine told me recently, “You have to either choose me or politics. Either peace or politics.” I remained silent in response. I only wish I could explain how terribly intertwined our lives have become with this so-called “politics”. I wish I knew which is which. I wish I knew the difference between ME and politics.Who knows?Maybe this new decade is a good time to discover this difference; if there is any.
These are perhaps my final hallucinations of 2009. Even if nothing changes tomorrow as time grows one year older, I will remain hopeful and wish strength for those who are bravely standing up against injustice in the absence of thousands of Iranians like me who are not there to hold their hands.
I am starting 2010 with a world of fears and with particles of hope. Happy New Year!
Please accept the following song as my new year's gift to you.This piece was performed by one of Iran's great contemporary artists, Lily Afshar, who is sadly currently imprisoned. Click Here.