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Chapters: One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Seven - Eight - Nine - Conclusion

       Chapter Three - The Destiny  - Date 1971 - 1979

 

            “Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, shall bitterly begin his fearful date with this night’s revels; and expire the term of a despised life, clos’d in my breast, by some vile forfit of untimely death: But He that hath the steerage of my course Direct my sail!” (Shakespeare)

            Romeo & Juliet directed by Franco Zeffirelli was on screen in Iranian cinema. I think I saw it eleven times, with my sister Farzaneh, my friends: Farzad, Shahram, ., and eventually several times with my love Anna. I liked movies very much, and if I was honest enough with myself, my wish was to become a ‘director of movies’. Among all movies, I was interested on Historical, fiction, and of course Love stories. I think before Romeo & Juliet, it was ‘West side story’ directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, which I saw it few times more than any other movies. For me life itself was some kind of movie, directed by God or Nature, played by us, human beings. The story of this movie is written even before the birth of its players. Though the main structure of the film is fixed, its details are in the hand of the players. So good or bad of what is happening is up to their talent and their will.

            In all movies seeing pain and misery of people were acceptable for me as long as the story had a happy ending. I believe this was due to how I wanted to live myself.

 

It was one of those Thursdays at the end of the pretty spring of Teheran which I saw Anna for the first time, in my aunt’s home. She was the most beautiful girl who I had seen by then, and forever. Her hair was dark brown and long with waves like the waves of the sea. She was wearing a red short skirt, and a matching red shirt with white strips. Suddenly all my senses were attracted to her, but most of all to her free spirit, with her lovely smile, silent but real and meaningful. Although I was in the middle of study for my most important examination of my life, I couldn’t stop myself inviting her and her family to our orchard in Karaj for the next day that was Friday. I was lucky enough as my father and his family were in our another orchard in Ramsar (North of Iran close to the Caspian sea.). Next day I had my best Friday with Anna and her family, my oldest brother and her wife (my mother’s sister), my mother and Ammo Jan, my friend Farzad. Our orchard in Karaj, the same Orchard which going there with my father was some kind of torture for me, now was changed into a paradise. I think life is like this; we search for happiness all over the world and try to change our outside surroundings, while the only thing, which needs to be changed, is what is going on in our heart and mind. Our gardener was very kind to me so he did his best to please my guests. I couldn’t keep it from Farzad and my brother that I love Anna, both of them agreed that she is beautiful but not very pleased of hearing word of love. Before lunch we decided to climb to the mountain, which was very close to our Orchard. Anna’s shoes were not right for climbing, so in our descent from mountain, she couldn’t walk as fast as others. Obviously I waited to walk with her, as always I didn’t hesitate in making decision, and preferred to be as honest as usual, so I told her that I love her. Strangely she was not surprised and she told me likewise, and asked me to pass my examination, otherwise we are going to have problem with her family especially her mother. That Friday I was not walking but flying, suddenly sky and greens were prettier than ever, and fruits of our orchard were more delicious than any. From next day I was not able stop thinking of Anna, and at the same time, I was more than ever worried of my examination as it could jeopardise, my union with my love. So I can say it was a mixed feeling of pain and joy. Farzad was more than any body worried of my examination and was acting as my conscience.

             

            I was with my mother for a month, after the end of the examination. I can’t remember how that month was past, as most of the time I was with Anna. It was summer’s time and weather was as hot as other summers, but we used to walk in the streets of north of Teheran for hours without realising how did we pass the time, talking from the past and for the future, our thoughts and believes, our likes and dislikes. Several times we saw the Romeo & Juliet and the Love story and each time we cried loudly. Even when I was not with Anna my mind was with her and I could talk only about her. Farzad was bored of my talking about her and I could feel he is listening me because of his politeness. So most of the time I was talking with my mother and my sister Farzaneh. Eventually we could have the result of the universities entrance’s examination, announced in the media. Among any ten students only one could be accepted in the Iranian universities and even among them most were accepted to semi universities called ‘Madreseh A’lli’. I was so happy to see my name among those who were accepted. I was accepted in science department of the National university of Iran and Farzad was accepted in the Aryamehr (Industrial) university, which was perhaps the best university of Iran. For the next month or two I had to attend some preliminary courses in the university, but my mind as usual was with Anna and how to tell my father about her, I thought if I persuade him to let me to rent a room close to the university, I will be able to have more freedom to see Anna any time I wish, then there would be no need to tell him about her. Of course he didn’t accept, but there was another destiny written for us in the sky!

 

 

A Tragic event

It was Friday, second of August 1971, a very lovely day, eventually Anna and I decided to ask my mother to propose to Anna’s family for marriage of us. My mother and Anna’s mother were in my aunt’s house, so we went to Anna’s sister’s house across the street to leave them alone for talking. After few hours we decided to go back to my aunt’s house to hear about good news waiting for us. The road, between two houses, was a busy road especially on Fridays, without any lighting. While we were crossing the road, suddenly I felt a car bumped me. I don’t know for how long I was unconscious but when I regained my consciousness I found myself in the middle of the road with many people around me, the first thing which came to my mind was where is Anna and how is she? It didn’t take long which I saw her lying in the middle of the road, I tried to get up and go toward her but I found I can’t and soon because of amount of pain I lost my conscious again. When I opened my eyes again we were in local clinic. She was awake, looked at me and asked me how am I, before answering her I asked her how is she? Truth was that nobody even doctors knew how we are, they were waiting for acceptance from a hospital to move us there, so the only thing, which they were doing, was injecting us morphine to kill the pain and force us to sleep. Next time when I woke up I was alone in the same room. I worried very much of what might had happened to Anna. My mother told me she had been moved to a hospital. She was accepted there thanks to her brother in law, who was a physician. They were asking ten thousand Toman cash to hospitalise me in the same hospital. My mother didn’t have that amount of money, and my father was not in Teheran. So they called him and after one or two days he was able to reach us. Eventually they moved me to the same hospital, but still they were not ready to give me a bed. My father was surprised as it was for the first time that somebody was not accepting his check and was demanding cash. It took another few hours till my father could go and get cash and come back to the hospital. During this time I was left lying in the entrance of the hospital while there was nobody to inject me morphine to kill the pain. Soon they found my right leg and arm were broken in four parts. As well as that, the joint of my upper arm and few of my ribs were broken too. After the operation, when I gained my consciousness I found all my body except my left leg and hand in a plaster. As one can guess my first question was about Anna. My mother told me she is fine and is in the next room. My father was silent, waiting to talk to me. He asked me how much in pain I am. I thanked him and apologised because of trouble, I have caused. As I knew he is the only one, who will tell me the truth about Anna, I asked him about her. While my mother was angry of this question, my father told me there was a small clotted of blood in her head, which has been removed. Operation was a successful one, but she is still in coma and at any time she might gain her conscious back. On top of that both of her legs were broken and they had to put platinum in both of them. Now I knew what had happened, so I had to know how bad is the situation so I asked to see Anna’s mother. I felt from her face I could find out how bad is Anna. After few minute she came to see me, she told me every thing is OK and repeated what ever my father had told me already. I asked her if my mother proposed to her and what was her answer. She answered: “don’t think about this things now, no body knows what is going to happen, it is possible she become paralysed or . . . ” I stopped her talking and told her ‘this is why I am asking you at this time to let you know noting can change my love for her.’ She asked me what about paralysed wife. I answered back: ‘nothing.’ She laughed and said: “ANSHA’ALLEH.” (Hopefully with God’s will). Next day I heard Anna has gained her conscious back, so I insisted to see her immediately, after long quarrel with every body, eventually they accepted to move me with my bed to her room to see her. She was lying in her bed like an angel, her head was in white bondage, and she had a white hospital dress on. As usual when she saw me she smiled and asked me how I am, I told her waiting to marry her as soon as possible. I am happiest and luckiest man on earth lying in bed next room to you waiting to marry you. We couldn’t stay long with each other and they moved me back to my room. While we were in hospital my mother was with me all the time and Anna’s mother was with her, every morning after seeing my mother the next person whom I could see was Anna’s mother, soon to see her was like seeing Anna, as she could tell me how she is with her word and her face.

            One day she didn’t come to see me, I asked my mother and she told me, she went home to do something. Next day the same thing happened. Among those who came to see me was my nice; as usual I asked her if she had seen Anna. She told me “no “pointed to our joint photograph which was taken few weeks before our accident and was on a table next to my bed and said: “well Masoud she is not as beautiful as you think, she has . . . ” I didn’t let her to finish her talking. I felt something has happened and asked to see Anna’s mother, my mother told me she is not in, so I asked her to move my bed to Anna’s room to see her myself. She told me the nurse doesn’t permit us to do this. I kept thinking and worrying, angry and anxious to see what has happened, then later when I was alone in the room, I tried to move myself from the bed toward Anna’s room. So I moved my leg to get up, but as soon as I did, I fall on the ground and lost my conscious, when I woke up again I found I had new operation. Still I was so worried of what might have happened to Anna, which my mother found she has no alternative except telling me the truth. She told me that there was some kind of disagreement between Anna’s family and my father and they decided to break our engagement. At the same time one of Anna’s relatives had proposed to her and had been accepted by her family and herself. My mother added: “her grandmother because of this accident believed our marriage didn’t have ‘ SHOGOON ‘ (good omen).” As Anna was very obedient of her mother, she had agreed with her decision. I was not able to accept what I was hearing till my friend Farzad did repeat every thing again.

            Another week or two, I was in the hospital, I was transferred to another section, perhaps to be helped to forget Anna. Rarely I had a visit from her relatives, any of them for me were like messengers of paradise. Those who had smell of my love and could bring an unseen and unspoken message from her for me. Instead of them I had numerous number of visitors from my relatives and friends. Poor my mother was very worried and upset about my situation. She was forcing me, with no success, to eat special foods; she used to cook everyday, though I don’t know when as she was always with me. She could see me unable to sleep or eat, and was wishful of seeing me smile. Some times she was so angry and sad that had no alternative except crying in front of me, and when I was asking her why is she crying? She could find enough courage to talk about my situation. She was telling me, that I have to eat to get well, then I might be able to change things again. The only thing she could do was mobilising my friends and families to visit me so often, as a result I was never alone. Almost at any moment I had three to five visitors.

            Although I was very polite with my father, but he knew that I am very angry of him, so when hospital personnel told me that I can go home, I was not ready to go to his house and preferred to go to my mother’s house. I never could find out how guilty of the situation he was. He was not a person to explain himself to anybody. But some how strangely I could feel he understood love and had some respect for those who were in love. My poor mother and Ammo Jan did every thing to please me. They changed their living room and dinning room into my room, as most of my body was in plaster I was not able to sit or stand, so I was dependent to others for every thing. Even for eating I had to use my left hand, which was not so easy, at least in the beginning.

 

 

Shah, the sole owner of the country

In my mother’s house every morning my grand mother was with me, she was very intellectual and I could talk about any thing with her. She was telling me about preparation for the ceremonies of honouring 25 centuries of kingdom in Iran. There were thousands of ‘arch of triumph ‘ made from light and flowers in all streets of Teheran. She told me that all shopkeepers have been forced to have lighting around their shops. As well as that they have to have many flags in different shape and of course pictures of Shah and Queen. They were forced to paint their shops and pay some amount of money for repair of their pavements. Even some people were forced to have lighting and flags on outside of their houses. Main streets every day were decorated in one shape and next day they change it as every day some body comes with new idea to appreciate these ceremonies even more, for example first they put cement blocks in the middle of streets, price of each one of them was five Toman, next day they decided they are not nice enough so they changed them with Iron barrier. My grand mother was telling me that these are not main expenses and the real expense is what they are doing in Shiraz and Persepolis. Even my uncle and my aunt’s husband who were both brigades general were not happy with these expenses and were complaining in front of my grand mother. She was telling me, “while people are hungry in south of Teheran and south of Iran why do we have to bring food from France and different part of the world to feed kings and Queens of different countries in Shiraz.” When people were talking about expenses of this ceremony, they were not hesitating to talk about any number, as matter of fact people were talking about largest number, they could imagine. There was no hesitation in mind of people, this was not a ceremony for enjoyment of them, but for Shah and his guest and those who could steal and benefit from it.

            During summer and autumn 1971 all news and talking were about that celebration. According what we could read in Iranian newspapers and hear from different sources, Mojahedin who used to be called as ‘Islamic-Marxist’ wanted to disturb these ceremonies, but they didn’t succeed and most of them were arrested and imprisoned.

            Apart from my grand, my friend, Farzad was with me every day, after the end of his lectures in the university. He was with me till late night; it seemed there was no end in our talking; we could talk for hours without noticing the time. Fortunately as students of his university were in forefront of strikes due to the celebration of ‘25 centuries’, Farzad could be with me more often, sometimes even in the mornings. At the same time I had many of our relatives as guest who where coming to see me, among them my stepsister and her husband who recently were married. She was under age of consent, Ammo Jan was very upset about this marriage, but as Shoaleh (my step sister) was in love with Hasan who was about ten years older than her, Ammo Jan had no alternative except surrender himself to this marriage. Hasan’s family were completely different from Ammo Jan’s family and ours. They were very religious and restricted; Although Hasan didn’t have any education and hardly was able to read and write, but he was very clever and some how open-minded. Their family were very poor when he lost his father; he was about ten years old and had to start working to feed her mother and his sister. He told me first he start selling sweets to the school children near one of the Tehran schools. I could imagine what he was saying as there was a boy about the same age near to our school whom we used to buy some sweets from, each sweet was one Rial, and he had to sell as many as possible to earn something at the end of the day. After that Hasan found a job in a textile factory. As he was clever and hard working man, he could earn more and after gathering his money he was able to buy half of the factory and after some times all of it. Now he used to own few factories. But was not happy and was thinking to get rid of them. He told me we are neither a capitalist country nor a socialist one. Every thing had to be own neither by individuals nor by state, but by shah’s family and some elite of society. To satisfy workers, and avoid any kind of uprising by the workers, Shah had passed a law that we have to give part of the ownership of the factory to our full time workers. In this way we are not prepared to employ any full time worker as after some times they will own the factory. As a result, both are losing, workers as they cannot find any full time and secure job, and us as we cannot train any worker and could not rely on any of them. If shah’s family or those who own every thing owned my factory, situation was different, as workers didn’t dare to claim any thing. But for us small business the shah’s regime suddenly becomes pro proletariat and nobody is daring to touch worker’s right. Well while I was talking to Hasan, I could see how white revolution of Shah killed our national bourgeoisie as well as our agriculture. Even capitalism that seemed was worshipped by Shah, could be sacrificed easily, when his interest was in question. Unfortunately Hasan and my sister couldn’t live for long and in few years time, they divorced and my stepsister went to America to her brother, who was living there.

 

We saw festival of Shah on TV, it wasn’t aimed to show glory of people and make us happy. Shah was the owner of the country and its people were his subject. He wanted to show to the world how wealthy he is! In his view people were nothing, their only responsibility was obedience. He could play with them in any fashion he wanted, they didn’t have any role in these ceremonies except playing as dummy soldiers in his big theatre or standing in the streets for hours to hail him and his guests while they were going to enjoy themselves. These glories, even for my generation, which according to his directed system of education were in fond of our ancient history, didn’t mean anything. When he stood by the shrine of Cyrus and said: “Cyrus do sleep, because we are awake.” We laughed, soon there were many jokes beginning with this sentence. Jokes like: “Cyrus do sleep while we can ruin what ever you build. “or “Cyrus do sleep so we can sleep too.” During those days people used to show their anger by making jokes. There was another joke like this. “One day during these ceremonies while they were flying from Tehran to Shiraz for ceremony, Shah told his wife Farah let throw hundred Toman to make some body happy. Farah in response said why not throwing two Fifty Tomans making two people happy instead of one. While they were arguing about this, pilot of their aeroplane looked at them and said why not throwing yourselves and making twenty million people happy.” (i.e. Twenty million was Iran’s population at the time.)

 

 

Struggle against ‘destiny’

I wanted to write more than doing any thing else, but as my right hand was not free, I was unable to do so, so I used to tell Farzad about what I had in my mind. One day he came with some pen and 2 hundred pages pad, and asked me to try writing with my left hand. First I start writing some separate pieces and some poem. Then I start writing stories, my second story was a love story called ‘Aghaz And Farnaz’, story was simple, how love can be changed into hate: {After Farnaz leaves Aghaz for a richer guy, Aghaz commits suicide, but before dying, asks stars for fulfilment of a wish. He wishes Farnaz suffers from one whom she loves most, to learn what love means. So when Aghaz dies his soul transmigrate into the body of Farnaz’s child. Then there is story of love of a mother for her son, and her suffering, eventually one night Farnaz’s son moves to her room and while she was asleep push a fork into her eyes, the same eyes that Aghaz was in love of them.} This hateful ending didn’t silence my love for Anna, and didn’t change my love into a hate. Next day when I saw Anna’s photograph had been removed from a table next to my bed, by my mother, I shout at her for the first and the last time in my life. While both of us were crying, and I was trying to apologise, she put the photograph back to its place. It was almost two months that I was not able to move from my bed. I explained my suffering physically and mentally in my next story called: ‘and he became God ‘. {Story of a man who lost all his senses one by one, first he found he can not move, he was young and wanted to walk and run in the rain, among yellow fallen leaves of trees in autumn, but he couldn’t, then he lost his eyesight. He wanted to see beauty of his love one, twilight and red sky in dusk, but he couldn’t. Eventually he found out that he couldn’t hear any more, not the song of fallen rain on dry leaves of autumn, nor song of nightingales in the spring. He faced sky, he couldn’t see and asked God: “Oh God, why?! Why not giving me a heart of stone, a heart that doesn’t have any feeling, not loving any body and not wanting to be loved. A heart, that doesn’t see any difference between beauty of sky with, stars, and the one covered by a thick, dark cloud. A heart that feels the same from touches of the loved one and being scratched by an old witch. A heart that can’t differentiate between songs of a nightingale and ominous tune of an owl. “Suddenly he found out all his pain is gone, he could walk, he could see and hear. Yes he gained all his senses back, instead lost his heart for a stone one. Suddenly he found out although pain is gone, but with pain joy is gone too. Although he could walk, but he couldn’t find any point in walking or talking, for him there was no difference between misery and enjoyment of people, their laugh or cry were alike, “He stood still and said: “now I have become a God”.” }. I neither wanted to be God; nor I could stand still, doing nothing against my destiny.

            One of my childhood friends was Sohila, she was very beautiful and from a rich family, we were the same age, and she was accepted in the same university as mine. When we were child most of the time we were together, but for few years we couldn’t see each other and then some times during 1970 we could see each other by chance, as our high school was close to each other some times we could have lunch together, but always I was looking at her as a friend and noting else. I never had any secret with my friends so she was one of those whom I told her about Anna from the beginning. As well as other friend of mine Sohila was visiting me every week, so next day when Sohila came to see me I asked her if she is ready to do something for me? When she said of course anything. I asked her if she could find new address of Anna, as I heard she is not with her sister any more and they have moved to somewhere else. I asked Sohila to buy a present for Anna’s birthday and give it to her, with my card. Sohila did her best and when next time she came to see me, she had a letter from Anna. In her letter she thanked me because of present, and asked me to forget her. She wrote: “It was our destiny not to be with each other, I wish you the best and success, I hope one day you find one to love and find happy life.” Sohila was very good friend, she was very upset to give such a response to me. While she was trying to hold her cry, asked me to forget her and start new life.

            I felt I hate this word, called ‘ destiny ‘, and one who writes it for the people. My next two stories, ‘ Agha’, and ‘Ahora Mazda ‘ showed my hate for God and those who represent him. {‘Agha’ was story of a mullah one of thousands which we could see them every day around ourselves, those who were prepared to commit any crime for money and self satisfaction and at the end of the day were securing a place in heaven for themselves as they were not forgetting their pray.} {‘Ahora Mazda ‘, was story of fight between God and devil for recruitment of people, while for them people didn’t have any value. Their fight was like fighting of two black and white puppies for piece of bone.}

            I didn’t want to surrender myself to ‘ destiny ‘, when they took off the plaster from my body and only left it on my leg, I decided to start going to the university, another friend of mine called Farokh, said he is ready to take me every day to university and take me back, Ammo Jan gave his car to us so we were not forced to use public transport. Then, after three months my leg’s plaster was removed and with Farzad’s help I start learning how to walk again. So I was ready to do some thing to overcome ‘ the written destiny ‘. Anna’s older sister was my friend, I thought I have to contact her and ask her to do something. Again I asked Sohila to call her and ask her to call me. She did and soon Manna (Anna’s sister) called me back. As she was in high school, she asked her mother if she can get help from me for her study; soon we could see each other most days of the week, she told me Anna has forgotten my love completely and want to marry the guy who proposed to her while she was in the hospital. During those days profession of man was the most important thing about him for proposing to a girl. So I was challenged by a man who was going to be engineer soon, while I was in first year of my BSc study, he was from a rich family more or less the same as mine, with this difference that I had no backing from my father and surely he was not ready to propose on my behalf. He was Anna’s relative; meant considerable advantages for him.

            Manna told me that Anna was surprised when she saw Sohila talking on my behalf, and wondered as she was very beautiful girl, why I am not going to love and marry her?! I told Manna: “precisely, Sohila is my friend, I asked her to rely my message to Anna, to tell her love is not something, which can be measured by beauty, wealth, or education. You can’t buy it or sell it. It can’t be exchanged for better or worse. Love has a separate life; it born, lives and grows, some times it gets old and perhaps one day dies. But as human beings are not for sell or exchange, so is love.” Soon Manna reached to firm decision that she has to do something about this love; so one day she asked me to go to their house. She told her mother as she has exam, she has asked me to go to their house to help her in her study. That day for whole day, I could feel and hear my heart beating, I didn’t realised how I got there, but eventually I was there. Anna’s mother reaction was as usual, like nothing has happened and I am there as before. When Anna saw me, although she was surprised, while I was going to die from beatings of my heart, she did her best not to show any emotion. She wanted to show me how her love for me is dead and I think she succeeded. After few hours, which I don’t know how did it past, and what did I tell Manna in her study. Manna asked me to invite Anna to cinema or something. I could see no point in doing so, I was able to see all her feelings for me is dead and perhaps she is in love with her relative, or has lost her capacity for love completely?! Manna didn’t wait for my doubt and amazement. She took the initiative in her hand and loudly in front of everybody said she is tired and asked me if we can go to movie? When she got yes nod as response from me, faced Anna and asked her the same question, before I realise what has happened I found my self in the cinema sitting next to Anna. I am sure I didn’t see any thing on the screen and couldn’t hear any thing from speakers of the cinema. I wanted to take Anna’s hand, but my hands were as cold as a dead. After some times I found enough courage to do so, I took them and kissed them. She didn’t reject and didn’t show any sign. Soon we saw the end sign on the screen and had to leave the cinema. I asked them if we could go to a restaurant and have a dinner. While we were having dinner, I told her how much I love her and asked her to marry me. She said she needs her mother’s permission for doing any thing, and I have to ask her. I thought if this is the case so let it be! Next day I had appointment with Anna’s mother in their house. She told me first if I want to propose, it has to be done by my father and not myself or my mother. Also as her other son in law is a Doctor, I have to have PhD, on top of that we have to wait till Anna finishes her high school.

            Well my big dilemma was how to see my father after few months not having any contact with him, and how can I ask him something like that?! I knew he was like a king and his house was his kingdom, so I had to see him outside of his kingdom and not in front of ‘his subjects!’. I called him and asked him if I can see him in the street. He was surprised, as surprise as he couldn’t ask me any thing; perhaps he was afraid to lose me again? Perhaps he loved me and wanted to have me as before? Perhaps he saw my will power more than his, and felt he has to surrender himself? Anyhow I told him there is something which I want to tell him but in private. He said: “OK I ask everybody to leave the room when we are talking.” I insist: “please this is the last chance I have to talk to you as a son to his father.” He didn’t hesitate any more and asked me where can we see each other? I gave him an address close to Anna’s home. When we saw each other, although ‘it was not new year’ but I could see drops of tears on his eyes, I couldn’t hold myself and while I was wiping hugged him and kissed him. I told him how much I love Anna and want him to propose on my behalf. He agreed and as it was arranged with Anna’s mother, we went straight to their house. My father was very gentle, calm and kind, and charming. He proposed to them, and they accepted. Now I had Anna as my future wife, my miserable situation was ended. But now I had to think about my study, which due to my situation, I was far behind it. At the same time I had to think about how I could earn money to marry Anna. I never found out what happened to the poor guy who was going to marry Anna; I heard few years later he died in an accident.

 

My university, The National University of Iran, was situated in a very beautiful site, north of Tehran, close to the village of Evin, less than a mile further than the most horrible place in Iran, the famous ‘ Evin prison ‘. It was quiet a contrast, there was a very small hill in our university with one grave on top of that which was kept in its original shape, as it was said that grave belonged to a Seyed (one of descended of prophet Mohammed). Some times after lunch we used to climb to the top of that hill, from there, looking left we could see village of Evin, with its small mad houses and its narrow alleys. At the same time we could see the horrible and sad face of Evin prison. From right we could see one of the most expensive parts of Teheran, belonged to the richest families of Iran, the most beautiful houses, most expensive cars and most fashionable people. One could see easily what ever existed in our left hand side, those poor people and that prison was because of what we could see in our right hand side. Unlike other universities, students in our university were not very active politically. Hence while students in Tehran University and Industrial one were in strike and many universities were closed, our university was open and we were studying as usual. It was a very modern university with beautiful buildings, tall trees, covered with beautiful lawns. Its refectory was on top of a small hill, very modern and beautiful, with very large windows all around it. Food over there was unbelievable cheap. We could eat as much as we could with Salad, drink, and desert, for only 23 Rial, (I.e. those days approximately any 80 Rial, (i.e., 8 Toman) was equal to one dollar.). After lunch student used to lie on the lawn near the refectory and enjoy the sunshine. Relation between students and lecturers was more or less like European and American universities, they used to sit, walk and laugh together. Yes of course like other universities we had university Guards too. These Guards were introduced, to suppress students few years earlier, after start of student’s strikes in universities. Although most of the Guards were from poor families, many from villages, and students used to consider themselves as vanguard of the same poor people; in all universities Guards and students were hateful of each other and were waiting for an opportunity to show it physically. Any way in our university this relation didn’t exist and some times even students and guards when facing each other used to pass a polite smile. Some used to say it was due to the head of Guards in our university, who was a mild man, and some used to say it was due to our ‘BE BOKHAREE’, (being good for nothing). Any way what ever was the reason, it was not going to stay like that; soon students found themselves confronting the same guards and be beaten by them. Perhaps this was due to their changes, as SAVAK was changing guards in all universities after any few months to avoid creation of any kind of friendship among students and guards.

 

During Norowz vacation Anna and I decided to go for a trip to the west of Iran, Kermanshah. It was our first trip on our own, we had little money so we had to travel in economised manner, we travelled mostly by bus and hitchhiking. First we went to Kermanshah. It was completely new experience for us who were living in Tehran all our life and rarely if not at all had a trip out side of the capital and rich northern province. As we didn’t know the city we guessed that the most important street had to have name like ‘Shah ‘ or ‘Pahlavi’ or something related to the Shah and his family; we were right and soon we could find the main street of the city; on contrary to our expectation although Kermanshah was capital of the main western province of Iran, but compare to Tehran it was like a village, or a small town. Most of the buildings rarely were higher than three floors. Shops were very small with cheap and old fashion goods; there was no supermarket in the town, and no big shop. Traffic was not any thing like Tehran or even Karaj or northern cities of Iran. Most of the cars were old and Taxies were very cheap. People were dressed like south of Tehran, most of the women had Chador or scarf, and men either had Kurdish dress or cheap, old fashion suit, with some kind of hat. It was my grandmother city and somehow I could feel at home, people were very friendly and helpful and hospitable especially with strangers. I saw many people with blond hair and blue eyes like my grand mother. Now I could see why Xenophon (430-354BC Greek historian) described Iranian with blonde hair and blue eyes. Although people here were generally poorer than people in Tehran, but I found them less unsatisfied and unhappy, perhaps they could see less difference between livings of different classes in Iran and were less forced to expect more and change their traditional way of living. After Kermanshah we went to Ghasr Shireen, it was very interesting for us how weather can change so much after short distance. Around Hamedan, it was snowing, in Kermanshah, we could enjoy mild weather of spring, while now after travelling, less than fifty kilometre, we were witnessing summer time’s weather. Over there we found out many people earn their money through import of smuggled goods. At that time there was fight of language between Iranian and Iraqis governments, but one could not differentiate between people of two countries in that area. They could cross the border and smuggle foreign goods from Iraq to Iran and sell it twice or three times of its original price.

             Iraqis seized relation between two countries after failure of an organised Coup by Shah in Iraq. Difference between Iran and Iraq was going far back in history to the time when there was no country called Iraq. After many wars between Iran and Ottoman Empire, Iraq as part of it, a peace treaty drawn up with Anglo-Russian co-operation between two countries. According to this treaty unlike other rivers in the border of two countries, Shatt al Arab river or as we call it Arvand river was not divided according to Thalweg line, and all of its water had been awarded to the Ottoman Empire and later after establishment of new Iraq to this country. In 1937 it was agreed that sections of the waterway opposite to two cities of Iran, Abadan and Khorramshahr be divided equally with Iran. But later with change of regime in Iraq, this country refused to accept this treaty, leading in April 1969 to the treaty’s complete abrogation by the Shah. At this time we were expecting the start of war between two countries and Iranian army was put on red alert, but noting had happened, instead it was start of a long traditional of espionage and organised coup of two countries against each other, and giving helping hand and sanctuary to their internal oppositions. Among those who enjoyed sanctuary in Iraq were Ayatollah Khomeini and General Timor Bakhtiar, the first head of Iranian SAVAK who in Aug. 1970 was killed by Shah’s agents.

 

 

My stories, my refuge from bitter realities

I guess after finding my happiness I was able to see people’s miseries more than before; so I start writing more about their problems rather than mine. Among stories that I wrote during that era was ‘Tar’a Ankaboot ‘, (Spider’s web), {story of a butterfly, flying among flowers and trees in spring time, every thing so beautiful and perfect, suddenly she fells into an spider’s web, and again she looks at green, flowers, and sunshine, but all seems different as she was not free to fly, and had to wait for her destiny, which was to be eaten by an ugly spider.}. Yes everything around us seemed beautiful and perfect, but it was only on surface, underneath of it, life was full of misery, on top of that, we were not free and our destiny was not written by God, or us but by Shah and his masters far from us.

 

My mother’s financial situation was getting worse and worse. Inflation was rising day by day, and they were not able to leave on their governmental salary. All carpets in their house were sold and now my mother had no alternative except selling their house. They did so and soon we had to move into a rented flat. I was very upset of my mother and Ammo Jan’s financial situation, but couldn’t do anything about it. I received some money from insurance because of our accident, but it wasn’t substantial, perhaps enough for me not to ask for pocket money from my mother. More than ever I could feel the misery and hardship, which comes with being ‘poor’ in our very new materialistic culture and society. I expressed my feeling in my story called: ‘Goldsmith’, {the one who one day found himself talking with a piece of Gold. Gold was complaining that he has lost his soul, which was the stone. He was explaining how happy he was when he was living with his soul, ‘stone’. Since then it has witnessed many crimes, murder, misery and pain and feels he has soul of devil instead of his soul. Gold begs Goldsmith to return him to his soul, and tells him “this is your last chance to save me and wish any thing you like.” Goldsmith did that and as he wished found himself in the ‘city of beauties’. In this city people have been divided according to their look. Ugliness was a crime and those who were ugly either had to leave the city or being locked up in dungeon of the handsome king of the city. He sees the beauty, but at the same time the ugliness behind creation of that beauty. Goldsmith who had returned the Gold to its soul had one other wish left to be fulfilled. He wished king become as ugly as his soul. As he wished that, the king becomes as ugly as his soul. When people face the real appearance of their king they revolt against him and send him to his dungeon.}

 

By summer 1972, I had no choice; I had to find a job. I didn’t want to ask my father for financial help. I never asked him for a penny and now I was more proud than ever to ask him for any. While I was in hospital, one of my cousins who had engineering company promised me when I get well, I can go and work for him. So I went to him and asked him for a job. He introduced me to his partner and he offered me a job as a drawer of structural map. They offered me six hundred Toman per month, I had to work every day after my study in university till ten o’clock in the evening, and Thursdays for whole day. I didn’t have a car so I had to use public transport to return home, so every day about midnight I was reaching home. But I was happy as now I could ask Anna to marry me and start living together. Soon we start searching for a flat or even a room to rent. We told our mothers that according what we know from Islam, for marriage, consent of man and woman is enough and they don’t need any mullah to marry them. So we married ourselves, by reading those appropriate sentences from Koran.

            The first place, which we found, was a room in a house, close to Anna’s house. We had one room and nothing else, even for going to toilet we had to pass landlady’s room, which was very embarrassing, so we were trying to avoid it, as much as possible. But after all we were happy as eventually we were independent and were living together.

            In our company I found new good friends, among them a man called Toraj, he was composer and was playing classic Guitar very well, his voice was nice as well and some times was singing too. Every Thursday after the end of our work we used to go to our room and he used to play and Anna who had very nice voice used to sing.

            One day when Toraj and I were leaving the office for our home, we saw a middle age woman sitting on the pavement of the street in Ferdossi Square. She had a red dress from top to bottom. Toraj told me: “let us go and talk to her and see why is she sitting in the street at this time of the day and what is her story.” She told us her story, she was in love with a boy in his village, as she was beautiful, Mullah of her village wanted to marry her for himself so named the boy to the local gendarmerie as deserter of National service, so they arrested him and sent him away. After that she left their village in search of her lost love. The next Thursday Toraj told me he had written a poem and a song for her, we went to our room and he played and sang that for us, it was very beautiful, he called it ‘Sorkhah ‘ (Reddish). Unfortunately he couldn’t sing that in state Radio, perhaps because of its name which was ‘red’ and anything related to red for authorities meant something to do with communism, they didn’t agree with some part of his poem as well, eventually it was changed and he gave it to his cousin to sang it, she did and it became one of her best song.

            During this time by asking and looking of what our engineers were doing in our office, I learned how to design central heating for building. So my job was changed from drawer of engineering plans into designer. Parallel to that my salary was increased and I start earning 900 Toman instead of 600 Toman. But as soon as our landlord’s husband returned from his trip, we had to move from the room we had to another apartment that with the help of Ammo Jan we could rent. Though this apartment had two rooms, one small kitchen and small toilet; unfortunately neither its kitchen nor its toilet did have any ceiling or hot water. Still for us in love it was a little heaven on earth. Rent of that flat was Six hundred Toman, so every month we were left with only three hundred Toman for our other expenses. We didn’t have any thing; my grand mother bought us a carpet, so at least in one of our room we could have a carpet. We called one of the rooms, bedroom and put the carpet in another room, which was our living room. I found four car’s tyres, we painted them and Anna made cushions for putting inside them. They became chairs of our living room, soon I found a lorry tyre which we painted it and put a glass on top of it. It became our dinning table. We were poor, but happy as we eventually had our own apartment and could live freely as we wished.

 

I liked Shakespeare’s plays very much and was not ready to miss any movie based on his plays. By now I was able to see few movies including Hamlet and Othello, now there was new movie based on his play ‘King liar ‘ by Grigori Konzintsev. For sometimes I had a desire to write a play or a story for movie. King liar had a strange and strong effect on me, that night I was not able to sleep, I left our bed and till morning I wrote my story. With few first signs of sunshine, it was finished. I called it ‘Azad Shah’, (free king). It was all in poetic form. Story of hundred old men and women who moved bare footed from their towns and cities with single shared oath that each one takes best part of a body or soul of a best human being from his or her city and town to a desert. Their oath was that if they add these separate pieces to each other like a jigsaw, and sing together, they will be able to create a super man in all different aspect. With blow of life in that man, all old people who where there and had single oath could change into young people. With strength of youth and wisdom of old, they were going to be perfect soldier for that king who was going to change the world into a free and just world. “If we rise up, if we all rise up, we’ll revolt the world, suddenly we’ll make the world full of blood, we overturn the world. How do we make our king, we make him from best of this and that. We make a king who make us united, a king killer of a misery and pain, a king, mother of happiness and gay . . .” This new king who was a collection of pieces from soul and body of thousands and thousands of men and women, with his pretty young strong and wise soldiers, soon could capture the world and bring justice to all human kind. But soon he fell in love of the most beautiful woman. One day when she asked him about secret of his youth and strength and argued, “what is the point of our love? While I get old and ugly and you remain young and handsome?.” He surrendered his secret to her and in a minute she start singing the magic song of old people. With her singing, all magic vanishes; suddenly the king changes into separate part of human flesh, and his soldiers, into old men and women on the edge of dying. All achievements were vanished, as people themselves had no role in achieving them. The last seen is the same desert while old men and women have gathered new pieces of human mind and body and were singing their magic song again, for making new king more perfect than the last one, not vulnerable towards his personal emotions.

            I liked this story very much, I was not able to hold myself, I forced Anna to wake up and read it to her, by now she was used to my writing during nighttime. When everywhere was silent, and I could think and feel and write in quietness of the night.

 

In our company, I learned how to work as sight engineer and for the first time became responsible for air condition and piping of a very huge two tower buildings in Pahlavi Street. Although I was working with professional workers, but at the same time I was able to see simple workers from different part of the country working in that building. One day I saw a worker beating sole of his foot with a piece of stone. It was very strange for me, so I went toward him, and asked him why is he beating himself? He told me a nail went into his foot and when he took it out, blood was erupted from his foot and by beating that point; he was able to stop the blood. In few seconds he stopped beating himself and stood on his foot. His name was Yadollah; he was from a village close to Arak, near Tehran. I asked him what is he doing in Tehran? He told me after land reform, he became owner of part of the land; he was working on. He was not able to manage that land, didn’t know how to cultivate it and how to sell its crops, fortunately the old landowner of the land was ready to buy it from him, so he was lucky enough to sell his land, and move to Tehran. He was living in south of Tehran with his family. After that any time I was for the inspection on that sight I used to go toward him say ‘salaam’ and chat with him for few minutes. Generally I found out he was more happy when he was living in their village, he was complaining about everything including plotted air of Teheran, its traffic, housing and expense of living. He was telling me in his village he and his family always were together, they used to work and eat and sleep together, now every day he has to leave home five o’clock in the morning to reach that building by eight. He had to work till six or seven o’clock in the evening and when he reaches home is almost ten o’clock in the night. He had lost all money he received by selling of his land, for moving to Tehran and buying first few essentials. He could see no change in his life and no improvement. He was very confused about life and behaviour of people in north of Tehran where he was working. Living in a mud house in a village far from big cites for years, now he was working in a huge building in north of Tehran. One could see the huge difference that he could feel between his life and the life of people living in the north of Tehran. Apart from that was the difference of moral between his family and people now around him in the north. He used to say people have lost their faith and soon we will witness the resurrection of ‘Imam Zaman’, (The promised saint who is going to come to save all human beings from misery and injustice). He told me that he had heard from his father that when men and women wear the clothes similar to each other, when you see tall buildings with ‘cross’ on top of each building, when you see some as rich as they don’t know what to do with their money and at the same time, some as poor as they have no where to sleep and nothing to eat. You have to wait for resurrection of Imam Zaman. He showed me TV antenna on top of all buildings, and said these are those promised cross on top of all buildings. He showed me the big picture of a half naked woman on top of opposite cinema (Empire cinema), and told me my father was right we will see ‘Imam Zaman’, very soon.

 

After few months the company I was working in was announced bankrupted. Although bankruptcy was part of trick of working and benefiting even more, still as our company was announced bankrupt, we were receiving half of our wages each month. The amount, I was getting, was almost 650 Toman, enough to pay the rent and other bills. My mother, who knew my situation, although was in very bad situation herself, still was giving us 100 Toman every month, but what could we do with that amount of money? We had to buy the most basic things; we were poor, as poor as we could think of. I remember many days I even didn’t have enough money to pay for very cheap tickets of bus fare, and had to walk to university or my job. Poor Anna had to economise every thing as well. As many poor people we had to use public bath, and for shopping she had to make a lot of research to find the cheapest material, as cheep as we could afford them. Now we were able to have some feeling of how poor people live in Iran and how far is their standard of living from riches. We could have some feeling, but not quiet so, as for us it was a temporary one, we knew soon I will find new job and after end of my study, with families and relatives whom we had we could improve our life as much as we wanted. While for people like Yadollah, that structural worker, and perhaps his children, life was going to be like what they had, (if not worse) for the rest of their life. Any way after few months, with help of my oldest brother I could find another job in a building company called Dehshad (happy village).

 

 

Politic, major concern of every day’s life

Universities including our university were getting more and more politicised, especially after trip of Nixon the American president, to Iran. We heard when his car was passing the residence Hall of Tehran University; students took the opportunity and throw some stones at the passing cars. This was start of widespread attacks of SAVAK agents to the homes of students and universities and optional arrest of many students from different universities. Mohsan my old friend who was Medical student in our university and was living in Evin village told me the attack of SAVAK agents to his room, he told me: “few men in the middle of the night came to our house, and knocked the door strongly, poor landlord was going to die. In my room they start throwing furniture and books every where, I presume they didn’t know themselves what they were looking for, when I asked them what are you looking for, tell me, perhaps I can help you. Their answer was, “KHAFA’A-SHOO “, (shut up). Then they start collecting books, any book with red cover. Some of my medical books had red cover, which were collected by them, fortunately they were borrowed from university library and I reported their loss to the library so if they can! Get them from SAVAK.”

            Generally students were against American. Some used to hate shah arguing that he is puppet of American. On the other hand most of us while couldn’t agree with them more but we were against American because of helping and supporting our dictator. For us main problem was lack of freedom, we used to think with democracy we are able to regain our independence too. Although for us all American governments were all alike but because of our recent history, we used to hate Republicans even more. So when we heard about Watergate affair in America, it was a very good news for us as it had a message of failure of republican especially Nixon who was considered as close friend of Shah. Our dislike for American policy in our country didn’t mean that all of us were pro revolutionary groups and their activities. On the contrary most of us were passive about their activities and only minority of the students were advocating Mojahedin or Feda’ian in Iranian universities especially in our university. So assassination of few Americans and few high-ranking army and Police personal by Mojahedin didn’t bring any kind of jubilation among us. I believed those assassinations did more bad than good for us, they brought more guards and restrictions to our universities and more suppression and censorship into the society. Perhaps these were what revolutionaries were looking for as they supposed suppression brings more awareness and readiness for the revolution. In contrast in short term, we were hoping to see the abolition of SAVAK and university’s guards, and in long term democracy and a just society.

 

 

Getting used to the laws of survival in Iran

Norowz 1352 (Mar. 1973), Anna decided to go with her family to Bandar-Abbas, to visit her father who was working over there. After more than a year being all the times together we were going not to see each other for about two weeks. Suddenly our apartment became very large and empty for me. I knew how much we loved each other, but not as much as that, which I realised when I found her empty place in our home during my Norowz vacation. I had to do something to make myself busy and at the same times surprise Anna in her return, so I bought some paint and start to paint the whole apartment, our huge balcony, its half covered class shade, which was the only roof our toilet and kitchen build in the balcony had, both rooms their walls and their ceilings. While I was painting the ceiling I fall and poured the whole basket of the paint on my head and body. When I saw myself on the mirror, I remembered Charley Chaplain movies and start laughing at myself, weather still was cold and I was not able to wash myself with cold water in our balcony, I was wondering how can I walk in the street with that face? At this point two of my friend Farokh and his girl friend, Mehri came to our flat, they saw me in that position, they couldn’t stop themselves not laughing at me, but they were as kind as helping me to go to the nearest public bath to wash myself. Farokh and Mehri was friend of each other, both from Azerbaijan, both were writer and student of university, Farokh at the same time was working in Archive section of state Radio. Most of the times we were talking about politics. We saw an imaginary movie about future, called Fahrenheit 451, story of a society controlled by the state through TV and propaganda. Owning and reading books was forbidden. I don’t know how did this movie passed the state censorship instrument, but it was like somebody has made a movie about our situation, we could feel any second of it. I could see well, situation of my friend Mohsan when SAVAK agent attacked his room and collected his red covered books. Farokh told me that: “state is very clever instead of bothering to censor all the books they force writers and publishers to censor their work themselves, because that office looks only at printed books, so every body is so careful, nobody is prepared to publish a book and spend allot of money and face censorship after wards. As a result now days publishers are censoring books even more than government.” Soon I faced the same experience. One of my cousins, Lila Kasra was poet, her book became book of the year, and famous singers sang many of her poems. Once I saw her and gave her my stories to read. After sometimes I saw her again, she told me, she enjoyed reading them, and said, if I let her she can change part of some of the stories to make them publishable, otherwise nobody is prepared to risk and publish them, she told me some of them politically are censurable and some from religious point of view. She said if she changes part of them, she is sure there is great possibility that my book became book of the year. When I asked her for some example, I found out she wants to change the main parts of many of my stories. I told her: “my stories have come from my heart and even if I change the wording, I am not able to change my feeling, and if you change that, then this is not going to be my book any more.”

 

The new company, which I start, working in, was further than the last one, now as I was more experienced, my salary was more than previous one. In this company I had to learn to give design for buildings and work as a civil engineer. I had to go to different sight and supervise engineering work of several buildings. I didn’t know any thing about civil engineering, but I had to learn as fast as I could. At the same time I found out that I am unable to use public services, as before, without having a car either I had to forget my study or my job. During those days buying a car for a student like me without any capital was not so easy. Foreign cars even second hand and old ones were so expensive which I couldn’t even think of having one. Internal manufacture’s cars were expensive as well but the main problem was not their price but their availability, they were so rare that one could buy a car and use it for few years and sell it with some profit. The amount of production was not matching internal demand, on top of that as Shah wanted to have ‘industrial export’, most of productions used to be exported to neighbouring Arab countries. So for buying new car we had to register our name and pay some money and stand in the queue for the time when they tell us that there is a car for us to buy. Another problem was that, as I didn’t have any money I had to buy it by instalment, which made it more difficult. Any way eventually with help of Ammo Jan I could buy a ‘Jyan’ (Citron).

            After I bought a car, I faced another problem, I had to get driving licence. With the help of some of my friends I learned how to drive, but passing the test was one of the most difficult test of my life by that time. Examiner body was Tehran police. First, as existing huge bureaucracy in every governmental body we had to go through series of bureaucratic obstacles. They were not accepting photocopy of birth certificate and instead we had to go to another governmental office to get official hand written copy of birth certificate, not one but about twelve of them. Then we had to get official eye test and official photograph, after that we had to get evidence from local police that we have no criminal record. Solving any of these problems was quiet a war with horrible Iranian bureaucracy and corruption. After that I had to go to the test itself. When I went to the responsible office for the test, I found myself among hundreds of people from all walks of life, all desperate for having a licence. Many like me, their job and their future were dependent to the result of that test. Examiners didn’t have enough time to examine every body in proper manner so they used to stand us in the street and find a horrible place for parking or driving and asks one by one all to park the car within few seconds in that place. In this way only those who were either very lucky or very experienced at least in the parking, could pass the test. As usual knowing how to bribe them or knowing somebody in the police could solve the problem immediately. Any way I failed that test few times, each time I had to wait for few months to be able to go for another test.

            Although penalty for, illegal driving was Thousand Toman and three months jail. I was not able not to drive because of my job and distance between my office and our home and university which where situated at tops of a large triangle in the middle of north of Tehran. So I was driving illegally. Once I was stopped by a Police car, I knew the first thing which he is going to ask me is about my licence, and I was not able to afford to go to the jail for three months, so before waiting for him to reach my car, I decided to run from there as fast as I could. I did and fortunately in high traffic of Tehran he couldn’t catch me. After this accident I was very vulnerable, as I knew my plate number would be passed to all polices in the city. Once a policeman, who was checking plate number of different cars to see if any of them have a penalty to pay, stopped me. This time I was not able to run away, the only thing which I could think of was to bribe him, so I put twenty Toman among licence of my car and gave it to him. He was more open than what I thought, he said twenty Toman isn’t enough and I have to pay fifty Toman, which I did. It was the first time which I was bribing an official. Soon I found doing any job in Iran is fully dependent on bribe.

            Once I was asked by the manager of our company to go and get permission of structural work for one of the buildings. Already all different paper works for obtaining that permission was done by the company and the only thing I had to do, was to go there and introduce myself as representative of the company and get that licence. But it was not as easy as I thought and I returned to the office empty handed. Our manager asked me what happened? I told him that the person in charge of it searched for some times, eventually told me he is unable to find it and asked me to fill the application forms again. Our manager became very angry; he was astonished why I didn’t realise what he was looking for!? He asked me to put five hundred Toman in an envelope and before asking any thing give it to him and say I know how tired he is searching for that document and wanted to have a dinner with him, but as I know how busy he is I thought perhaps he prefers to go with his family. I did this and against my astonishment he was able to find the document right in his drawer.

            In this new company I could learn more about the way our country was running. All governmental bids for structural works, according to the law had to be sent to all engineer companies. In our company, they were coming to me and I had to respond to them. Strangely as I used to receive all of them one or two days before the due date for passing them back to the authorities, I was unable to respond to any of them. Once I complained to our manager about this problem as I thought some thing is wrong in our office and somebody is holding them before I see them. When I told him he starts laughing and told me: “It seems you know nothing about our country, these are things which you never can learn them in the university. No body is holding these documents. We are small company, big fish receive documents on time, and they have plenty time to give their bid, even enough time to buy cheap material and sell it to the government with higher prices. But as we are small fish, like poor people we have to eat reminder of the rich companies bites. We only are able to get second hand jobs. “Among these jobs, one of them was fresh water piping to a new built governmental town. Strangely I saw instead of building an small bridge on the river which was separating the town from the source of water, for passing the pipe from the river, they took the pipe all along the river to the first build bridge on the river and took it all the way back to the town. In this way this project was few million Toman more expensive. When in estimation plan I suggested this idea to the mother company which was going to win the bid. With some excuse they refused my suggestion, while in action they did the same thing. In this way they could even benefit more.

 

 

Increase in oil price, made rich, richer and poor, poorer

With the start of Arab-Israeli ‘Yam Kippur ‘ war in October 73, oil prices increased sharply. But this increase in Iranian income, for us Iranian didn’t mean any thing, as we could see most of this money is going to the pocket of American Arm manufactures and the rest of it to the certain people mainly Shah’s family and close people to them. What could be our share of increase in oil prices was ascent of inflation and more hardship. Those who were more politicised on top of that could see betrayal of Moslem Arabs in favour of Israelis. They used to say this is not price of oil, which Shah gets, but price of the blood of Arabs. He gets this money from European and third world countries and returns it to the arm’s manufactures in America. So they can become more prospers and can help Israelis and dictators all around the world more than before. One of such example was coup in Chile by General Pinochet in September. When we heard military junta has killed Allende, many felt losing Mossadeq again. We could compare this two and their faith with each other, and could see many similarities among them. We felt this is another action by CIA and remembered again what happened in our country in 1953.

            Shah’s propaganda machine since year before was generating this Idea that shah had fought against American oil companies and has won. There was some truth in what they were saying, but for us all were the same, blunt lies. No body did believe whatever could be heard in our media, even correct news were interpreting by people differently. More propaganda in state media was generating more hate, gathering people here and there to hail shah, had the same effect, even more hatred toward the shah. Now I realise even close people to Shah could see this shameful propaganda and their effects on the people. But as Shah was an absolute ruler and a decision maker even those around him did not bothered or dared to force him to see the reality.

            Perhaps Shah wanted his country as it was ‘owned’ by him, to be strong. But his interpretation of being strong meant having strong army. Again strong army meant having the most advanced armament. So he was prepared to buy arms with any price, he was so mad about buying arms, which he bought many sophisticated arms, while nobody knew how to use them. Alam his court minister, at the time, in his memos, reveals his discussion with General Khatami, about this subject: “General Khatami, the commander of the Air Force, confided in me that we’re ordering far more planes than we can possibly use. We simply haven’t enough pilots, or the facilities to train more. This has obvious implications for the effectiveness of the air force. Yet, despite being his brother in law, the commander dares not draw the matter to HIM’s (I.e. His Imperial Majesty) attention.” (A-390). More important, whom were we going to fight against? Fighting against Iraqis didn’t need any sophisticated arms like them, and we were not been able to stand against Soviets even for a second with all those armaments. Up to then any time we saw any activities from our army was not against our foreign enemy, but against ourselves. Against people. In Aug. 1953, or June 1963. U. S. Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1960’s put this reality as: “Do you know what the head of the Iranian army told one of our people? He said the army was in good shape, thanks to US aid- it is now capable of coping with the civilian population- “(Haliday- 75) Apart from that Shah’s Armies activities were against people of other countries like their involvement against people of Dhofar province in Oman. Which without any approving of Iranian people and even dummy parliament of ours was going on between 1973 till 1976. Or their involvement in countries as far as Indonesia, South Korea and Zaire. Spending all or most of the oil money for this kind of the armament, instead of generating this believe that Shah want to see our country strong again, was wide spreading this believe that he does it according orders of his foreign master. Arm manufactures and western countries were selling him these toys of him in any price they wished. Alam’s memo: “I’ve received highly confidential information from a British source indication that the Pentagon is pressing General Dynamic, the company which manufactures the F-16 to double the price it is asking from Iran. . . . HIM took some time to think about this before remarking that he had already begun to have doubts, hence his insistence that I ask the US ambassador whether the figures bandied about by Congress covered 160 or 300 planes. “Even so “, he said. “the manufacturers have went written confirmation that the price is to be $6.5 million per aircraft, How then can they raise it to $18 million, almost a three fold increase? “I replied that this is precisely what they did over the Spruance destroyer; half a dozen of the ships were estimated at $280 million. But we still ended up paying nearer $600 million. “It would appear “, I said, “that the Pentagon is wasting no time, appropriating what little remain of our oil revenue. “(A- 506).

            In contrast to the military expense Shah was very unwilling to spend money on any project, which its beneficiaries were, people. With the oil money, without increasing inflation he could build houses, hospitals, . For poor people. Roads could be rebuild and changed from poor position which they were in, even in the capital. Our agriculture could grow and we could feed our poor hungry people. Abdul Majid Mjidi, head of the plan organisation complains to the Alam: “The government originally assigned $25 million of next year’s budget towards building at the university, but it now appears that only $9 million will be available. By contrast, according to Mjidi, military investment is set to rise by 300 % and current expenditure is to be doubled. …. He begged me (Alam) to report the situation to HIM. I was forced to reply that this is the PM’s duty, not mine. “But the PM (I.e. Prime minister) is terrified to spell out the facts, “said Mjidi.” (A-283)

             While in our company we were designing large houses in north of Tehran for those who used to benefit from oil money; servant of our company was living in one of the shanty towns of Tehran; in a very poor condition; still as he had his diploma he was among luckiest one; he had his own bicycle which could avoid waiting for hours in bus stops for coming to work and had a proper and secure job. One day he came to me and told me that he has gathered some money and want to build his own house and asked me to help him. The land, which he was able to buy out side of the city boundary, was a useless land. During those days any body with some connection could earn thousand times of those kind of land just by putting some fences around it. Still his land was large enough for only two small rooms and a narrow hallway. He wanted to build this land with help of his brother and his wife and his two small children. I helped him to buy cheap material from companies which we knew and soon he start working in building of his house, some times when manager of the office was away he was free to go and work on his house, and instead of him, I was doing his job. Eventually after sometimes he finished building of his house, and they moved to their new home. But it didn’t take few months, which one-day I found him very sad and almost crying while he was talking. When I asked him about the reason of his sadness, I found out that because of his house was outside of the city boundary, City council men had attacked it and they have ruined his house and he has forced to return to his previous situation. I was wondering what was going on in his mind when he was seeing the map of luxurious houses which we were building for others and most of the times he was delivering them to the municipal council for getting permission. Especially when he could see how easily council grants permission of the buildings for those houses.

            During those days, most of the times I was seeing my mother instead of having her usual smile, was swallowed in sadness and worry, with a cigarette on her lips. She was complaining that they are living on debt all the times and whenever Ammo Jan gets his wages all of it goes straight to pay their debt. Eventually they were forced to give up their rented flat and go to my grandmother’s house and live with her. I could feel this was the last thing which my mother and Ammo Jan were ready to do. Both were very proud, but they didn’t have any alternative. I wished I were able to help them. But our situation was worse, only because we were young and in love we were not able to feel the hardship and misery, which we were in. From then on any time we were going to see my mother and Ammo Jan; we could see my Grandmother too. She told every body that my mothers move to her house was by her invitation and insistence as she was alone and ill and needed some body to look after her. She had many respect for Ammo Jan and was very careful not to do or say any thing, herself or any body else, which disgrace Ammo Jan. I used to remember when they had few houses and now they were living in my grandmother’s house and even didn’t have their own furniture.

            One day strangely my aunt who is my sister in law as well called me when I was working. She was crying and asked me to go to the hospital. I asked her what has happened? She told me: “your Mamman Talla wants to see you as soon as possible.” Soon I rushed to the hospital, I saw my grandmother for the last time, every body was crying she had a stroke and was unconscious. Few hours later she died. It was very sad time for all of us, as we all liked her very much. In traditional ceremony after seven days of her death, I felt something is going on between my uncle and my mother. It seemed he was worry that my mother doesn’t leave the house! I used to like my uncle; my mother introduced his wife to him, as she was our neighbour and our friend. But I was so angry which couldn’t hold my self and with loud voice told him he has no honour and shame on him. I was mostly angry as I could see how every body including me are genuinely sad from her death while my uncle instead of respecting her and her ceremony, was thinking about his inheritance. I felt all my aunts and uncles felt the same but didn’t want to say any thing to him as he was a brigadier general of army and used to be very respected. My great uncle, who had more important job in Oil Company and was more influential but was more modest, came toward me and appeased me and asked me to forgive him. After my grandmother’s death neither my mother nor Ammo Jan were prepared to live there any more. Soon they found cheaper apartment in poorer area and moved there. Later my other aunt asked them to go and live with her, which they did.

 

 

Let students free to do anything, but involve them in Politic

In university I found new friend among them Hussein who used to be student in Britain and was accepted in our university without passing the entrance examination. Few years later I introduced him to my sister Sorya and they married and he became my brother in law. He used to tell us about freedom of the people especially younger generation in Europe. About speaker corner in Hyde Park, where people can go and say what ever they want, against government and even Queen. It was strange for me to learn that in a capitalist country people are free to buy Capital of Marx and talk about communism and socialism openly and freely. Idea of student union in university and their power was interesting as well. Another friends of us were Shams and Qumarth. Some times for lunch instead of having it in the refectory of the university we used to go to Evin village, over there, there was an ‘GHAHV-KHANEH’ (coffee House) which we used to go there and have our lunch. Many villagers used to come there too. We used to sit in its yard near its pond under a ‘Majnon tree ‘ on a blanket, which was spread on a wooden bed and have its only menu, which was ‘Dyizee ‘. The food, which used to be traditional food of poorest people of the country, now was quite luxurious for them to have it. A stew with small piece of meat with a lot of fat called ‘Donbeh ‘, few potato, some peas and onion. Each Dyizee for single person was cooked in small jar separately. They used to pour all materials enough for one person in this jars and fasten its top hardly (some times with mud), then they used to leave them for few hours in their own oven. It was so delicious; I don’t think any body was able to cook the same thing at home. This coffee house was very strange, it was almost opposite to Evin prison, hence some times university’s guard, and prison’s guard were coming to have lunch over there as students like us. While we were there and had our lunch, there was no animosity between us, but immediately after reaching to the university, Guards were going one side and us to the other side and were looking at each other like hundred years enemies. Another strange thing was that although area was full of secret police and Gendarmes and different guards, also while punishment for selling of many narcotic material was execution, but in this village and another village close to that, one could buy any thing from Hashish to opium very easily. As matter of fact it seemed that this is the policy of the government to make students addicted to some kind of narcotic material so they can make less disturbances.

            First time when I saw people using narcotic material was few years earlier when one day Anna told me we were invited to one of her relatives party. She told me Daryosh is over there as well, during those days among younger singers Daryosh and Farhad were the most famous one as some of their songs had a political message. For example one of Farhad songs called ‘joma’a’ (Friday) was said that it was about Siakal incident, there was rumour that both of them for sometimes were arrested by SAVAK agent, and spent sometimes in Evin prison. Any way we went to that party, their house was close to my university. I always used to think my father was rich, now I could see who is rich and what does it mean. Very large and beautiful garden in one of the most expensive area of Tehran, huge building, and expensive furniture . . . We were directed into a large room, but soon we found almost nobody in that room was sober. There were some more young people in the next room and next to that one, all in the same position, all from rich families of Tehran, some were smoking opium, and others hashish, rest were drunken, it seemed we are in free land and every body was for himself, there was plenty for drink, smoke and eat. It was my first experience of a party like that, soon I felt I am afraid of that situation and asked Anna to leave that house, she was not happy of leaving, but surrounded to my wish and we left. I think afterward we had our first serious quarrel.

            In our university using narcotic material was very common. So when one of my friends gave me a cigarette ruled by Hashish, I didn’t refuse but didn’t enjoy it very much. Soon I found out it is mostly because I don’t know how to smoke it. Perhaps I didn’t like smoking. I was always free to do so but seeing my mother and Ammo Jan smoking too much and problem which they had, made me resistant against smoking. Any way once they cooked piece of Hashish in the cake, which was unlike smoking, very delicious. But being honest I didn’t enjoy it much either. Once one of our friends called Faried came to our house with a ‘Manghal ‘ (brazier) some coal, and a ‘vaufur ‘ (opium smoking pipe), and some opium. It was the first time I was seeing opium and vaufur, after my child hood which I used to see my mother’s wet nurse Aghbajie smoking Opium. Faried offered us (me and Anna) to smoke some, as usual I had problem with smoking, on top of that it was too bitter for me. Faried and his wife, which was mixed Russian and German girl, start laughing at me. I found Anna was not enjoying it either.

            Distribution of Hashish and other narcotic was not only taking place in south of Tehran, but almost everywhere. In many parks and streets in north of the city, while you were walking alone you could see young boys asking you if you want the best hashish or opium. It was almost free and one of the ways that younger generation could ran away from bitter truth of the life. Difficult competition, which existed in the country for entering into the universities, finding proper job, marring with loved one, and have some kind of security in life. In all these competitions most of the youths from poor and middle class families without any connections were the main losers and the way out was not to think through having frivolous life, not being sober.

            One day Hussein told me: “come on, today I want to take you somewhere which you can’t even imagine place like that exist.” We went out side of the city further and further, till we could see no houses any more, in the middle of nowhere, there was sign of some kind of road, which we took that, after few Kilometre, we reached to a big house. We stopped and Hussein knocked its door, small window on the door was opened and we could see eyes of a man who looked at us carefully and judged us by his look. He decided it is save to open the door, and he did, we passed a narrow path and entered into another house, immediately I felt strong smell of smoke. Soon we entered into a big room full of people, perhaps twenty or more, from all different walks of life, young and old, all half sleep lying on the ground. Even breathing in that room made me half sober. There were some beds spread on the ground parallel to each other, and in between of each two bed, there was a brazier full of red fired coal while two man lying parallel to each other on those parallel beds holding an instrument by their hand and mouth. That instrument was ‘Negarie ‘ an instrument for smoking opium residue. One man was ‘saghie’ (host) and another one was ‘moshtari ‘ (customer). Saghie was blowing into the Negarie from one end and Moshtari was breathing in the smoke from the other end. Walls of the room was dark not because of the colour but because of smoke, beds greasy and dirty, I don’t know how many people and for how long were lied on those beds and went into the sky as they themselves used to say, but sign of dirt on those beds were implying that they had to be there for years and perhaps had been host of thousands of different people. Although I was thirsty of examining any thing new and understand every thing, but couldn’t persuade myself lie on those bed and put that pipe in my mouth. I wait in that room for my friends to go through that procedures and when we were living that house I could feel my head is rounding around and I want to vomit. This was new experience for me and those people over there were different kind of people who preferred for different reason to live in dream rather than real world.

            Another time Faried and his wife came to our house, he told us as you don’t like opium and think it has bad smell and is bitter, I have brought you another thing which is not comparable with any thing else you have tried before. He showed us a white powder and told us that are Cocaine, while it was heroin. Perhaps if we knew that white powder is Heroine we were more hesitant to try it, as we knew how one could be addicted to heroin so easily. He took a piece of foil from his cigarette box, put some of that white powder on that foil and fired a ruled hard paper and kept it underneath of that foil. At the same time he gave me a straw and asked me to smoke white smoke, which was evaporating from that foil over the fire. After me, Anna and Faried’s wife and eventually he himself smoked. Soon I felt sleepy as others and didn’t feel any thing till next morning. When we woke up Faried asked me what did I feel, I told him sleepy. He asked me if I did enjoy it, I told him well my problem is that I don’t have enough time to sleep so you have to give me something not to sleep. We laughed; it was the last time Faried brought us something like that. Soon I found he is addicted and we cannot force him to give it up. As a result he lost everything including his wife and his study and eventually his life. He was from a rich family; his father was a famous physician, he had everything and lost everything. I guess Faried and another two close friends of ours lost their life as a result of addiction as something very important was missing in their life, a reason to live. Sense of being useful and a player in life. Having some kind of objective in life further than just being alive. These were our generation’s problem, we, who were taught to think and were asked not to think

            I was married and had to spend most of my time working to earn our expenses and study to guarantee our future. I had enough personal obstacles to fight against which I didn’t need any more. I was in love of my wife so I didn’t have any emotional vacuum in my heart. Still I wanted and needed something more. This is why many times; I could feel I need to write badly. Even once I felt I like to play an instrument so I registered myself for learning Classical Guitar. One day per week after work about Ten o’clock in the evening, very tired and exhausted, I used to go to that Music class to learn how to play Classical Guitar. My teacher was telling me when I am playing I have to have feeling and while I move my hand my head and my foot have to move as well. Well I was trying to move them, but each time I was forgetting one. When I was moving my head, I was forgetting to move my foot, and when I was moving both of them, I was forgetting to play. Eventually my teacher told me something, which was very useful for me during all my life. He told me, obviously you like music and classical one very much, but liking them doesn’t mean that you have to learn to play them; you can enjoy play of others without knowing how to play. Another time we heard a representative of a guru from India who was very famous in America and European countries is in Tehran. This was new for us; we had our own Gurus called ‘Darwish ‘. My old friend Mohsan Pakzad was going to ‘Khan-Agha ‘ where Darwishes used to live and worship the God. But those who were lost their faith in God were searching for some thing else nothing to do with God. So we went to see the representative of this Guru, My friends Hussein, Shams and Qumarth and my mother’s Uncle were with Anna and me. He was talking in English and somebody was translating his speech for us. But be honest he couldn’t recruit any of us.

            I forgot playing any instrument or worshipping an Indian Guru and stuck to my writing. I wrote many other stories and now I was in the middle of a very long story, called ‘Pier Zad ‘ (born from old). Story of a man who died and born again from death and instead of growing old, start ‘growing young ‘ and became younger and younger when he eventually vanished to before birth. In this story I was examining my self and my mind. My search for the truth, for long happiness, for finding a system, which could bring freedom, security and adequate life for every body. With Pier Zad I searched the world; I went to different cities; where all people were alike, beautiful and wealthy; facing different people from different walk of life and different personality.

            One day Qumarth came to our house with Shams, he had two small tablets, which told us they are LSD. Well I thought it shouldn’t be stronger than heroin and I have to prepare my self for another sleep. He gave us each half of tablet to eat. This time I didn’t feel sleepy at all, on the contrary I felt very awake and energetic. After half an hour I felt every thing is changing so fast, Anna and Shams and Qumarth were feeling the same thing. There was a poster of half naked woman and a man in the middle of a jangle in our living room, we looked at it and strangely we saw them are moving from the scene and in no time they were vanished in the trees. We could see flowers of our carpet are moving and are growing very fast. Soon we lost sense of the height and felt we can jump from our window in third floor, even we felt we can fly, and some how we tried it in the room by wide spreading our hands and moving around. Suddenly Shams told us perhaps we are dead which we have found this kind of feeling. It was obvious we were not able to question our senses so we were stocked between logic, reality and what we were seeing and hearing and ability of breaking the norms. The only way out of that was Shams suggestion that perhaps we are not alive any more, he said we are death; soon we start examining his claim. We thought if we could communicate with outside world this is one proof that we are not dead, fortunately our neighbour rang our bell and asked Anna for some salt. Anna gave her some salt and she couldn’t see any thing unnatural in us. But still we were not sure of our situation so we asked Qumarth who was more sober than any of us to go and call my friend Farzad to come to our house and help us out of that situation. We didn’t have a phone so he had to go to the opposite shop to call. Thanks God he used the stairs and didn’t use his ability to fly. For one second I closed my eyes. I felt I could see as clearly as with open eyes. While I was talking and explaining what ever I was seeing, I saw four of us very clearly, then some how I saw we are flying but not in sky but in time. Time was going back ward, I start seeing the whole history flying in front of our eyes. We went backward to ancient times and beginning of the creation, soon I felt we are not human any more and simply we are four separated sparks of light, then we lost our last sign of our individuality and became one. Suddenly I lost all tensions, fear and self-production, which all human beings, all along their life have to carry with themselves. I felt we are one and free, nobody and everybody, nothing and every thing. Free from our body and soul. I heard later that I was sitting in the middle of the room and rounding around myself with some kind of unexplained joy. Now the only thing, which I could see, was light and lighter, perhaps start of the creation. I opened my eyes and saw our lamp on the ceiling, which was turned on by Farzad who was rushed to reach us and see what has happened. It was unbelievable experience for all four of us. The joy, which I felt, was noting like what ever I had seen by then. Although I enjoyed that experience very much, but for the first time I saw my vulnerability as well, so I never tried to repeat that experience again, although it became an objective and desire for me to find the same feeling in real world and not for few second but for whole life.

 

 

Marriage

One day every month Anna and I used to go to my father’s house and see him, still whenever we wanted to go and see him I used to push my hair behind my ears so he couldn’t feel that they are very long. Well he could see them even behind my ears and I knew he knows. But it was one of those acts which was sign of respect like many words which we Iranian used to use in every day of our life without real meaning, but still essential for existence and strengthening of our relationships. Although I was not much older than one which he used to order few years back. His relation with me was changed totally, he was respecting Anna and me very much and any time we were there we used to have very adult conversation about politics or family maters. Still he was not very keen in democracy and freedom and was more interested in progress and prosperity of the country. Hence in his view which always-present situation was compared with Qajar time when we had nothing, not even a single car was very good, near perfect, on the edge of great civilisation. His only complain was about corruption, bribery, huge bureaucracy, which he couldn’t see Shah’s hand and his wrong doings in all those problems. He used to say if Shah had at least ten honest and clever men around him, I could show what was he able to do with this country and its wealth. Well once I argued with him, why Shah can’t have ten honest and capable men among thirty five million populations around him, unless some thing is wrong with himself. But my father couldn’t accept my argument or he didn’t want to accept it, as he was a man, who used to act according to his word, and perhaps it was too late for him to change his mind and his word. In family matters still his favourite subject was about my brother, poor Issa, still he was talking about him like he is talking about a child. Some how I felt he has some sense of guilt towards him which by attacking and complaining about my brother, he want to satisfy himself that he hasn’t done any thing wrong against his children in general and especially Issa. Any way still sometimes he used to take me to his favourite room or his library and show me his old hand writing books or old photographs, or his collection of stamps. Any time he had new drawings or art piece he used to show it to us and explain it in detail. Once he told me that he has given many of his books to the new library, which has been established by Queen Farah, and they are going to name one of the rooms of the library after him. Another time he told me that he has given expense of building of a school, which is going to be named after him. I think in this way he wanted to leave something from himself to be remembered after his death.

             

            One day my oldest brother told me although Anna and I according to our way of thinking are married, but it is time to have customary marriage too. I presume this was demand of every body around us but as we didn’t permit any body to involve themselves in our private life, nobody among our families dared to say so. We were hesitant to go through traditional marriage, because we loved our life, as it was, we knew perfectly well, that after marriage we have to have house as big as other relative of ours, furniture as luxurious and as expensive as others. We had to commit ourselves to ceremonies and give and take of presents in different occasions. All of this meant running like horses after money without any real purpose in life. We had to become rich, just because to be able to afford expense of this kind of luxuries. Any way soon we felt we have no alternative, this was something, which we had to go through. It was so funny for me and Anna to see my father and her mother arguing about amount of (Mehrie’e) dowry, my father was arguing that all dowry of every body in his family has been twenty thousand Toman and Anna’s mother was asking for equal amount in gold, eventually I think they reached to some kind of agreement. For us neither dowry nor trousseau were important we had each other and it was more valuable than any thing else, but it was a game which we had to face it. Our only concern was to get over it as soon as possible.

            It was summer 1974 weather was very hot, nobody was helping us and we had to go and find every thing ourselves, every thing had to be expensive to match standard of our both families. Diamond rings, marriage dress, different component of ‘Sofreh Aghd ‘ including silver candle plate, mirror, especially cooked bread, especial decorated crystal sugar, . . . We had to arrange for food, drink, photographer, invitation card, . . . Any way when every thing was finished it was few minutes before ceremony itself, I remember even in the middle of ceremony somebody came and asked me what to do about ice, and where should they leave them. We were so tired that during dinnertime I found some time to go to sleep. Well many of our relatives gave us golden ring or necklaces, golden coins; my father gave us an expensive carpet, and later half of the house, which from childhood was under my name. Well we didn’t know what to do with those gold so we put them all in the bank for the future. About the house although it was very big and in very expensive area in the centre of the city, but as it was rented perhaps ten years before, its rent was according to the rent value of that time which meant almost nothing. We were not able to ask tenants to leave the apartment, because it was taking long time to win the case. This was one of the advantages of living in rented apartment. Any way our life didn’t change much and some how we could manage to avoid going through those ceremonies and customs, which we were afraid of.

 

Next Norowz (Mar. 1975) we were invited by Anna’s father to go to Bandar-Abass where he was working, we asked two of our friends accompany us in that trip. We went by my car, the distance between Tehran and Bandar-Abass is more than one thousand Kilometre, but we preferred to go with my car as we could see different cities in between, we stopped in Isfahan and stayed there for two days, it was very interesting for us to see all those old buildings from Safavid dynasty, when Iran was among strong countries of the east. In our way in the middle of desert we saw a huge building which was very old perhaps from Safavid time, we found out this was a place which people travelling from north to the south could wait and have some rest. Weather was very hot, but when we entered into the building it was very cool and nice, inside we found long stairs toward basement, we went down after perhaps hundred stairs we reached to the coolest point of the building which was source of the nice weather in the building, there was cold water coming from the ground. I wondered hundreds years ago how much they were thinking of the people to build some thing like that in the middle of nowhere for unknown people, but all the same with a lot of care and understanding. There was no name on the building, so we couldn’t find who did build that building, who paid for it, and who did inspect it to see if it is according to the standards of the time. I wondered how much we have changed, now with a lot of money and thousand pages written documents, number of inspectors, and many orders from top and modern equipment. Still we are not able to build some thing like that. Even our main airport roof collapsed because of as they said, heavy snow! Perhaps I had to surrender my self to this idea that rise and downfall of Iranian materially and mentally all depends to their ruler!?

            It was the first time I was in Bandar-Abass. This city was named after the most important and powerful king of Safavid dynasty. In recent years as Shah wanted to station his main naval force base in the strip of Hormuz, this city was going to become more important. As a result we found the road heading toward this city was in perfect condition, well when issue was army’s need, shah was not hesitant to spend any amount of money. Here the gap between poor and rich even was more evident. Many were deprived from basic needs of the life and some had the most luxurious kind of life, according to the highest standard of living in European countries. Before reaching to the city we found many women in the middle of the road while they were sweeping it. It was very strange; we asked Anna’s father, what those women were doing. He told us they are so poor, which by sweeping the road can gather some grains, which had been spread by the wind on the road from lorries carrying them to the other city.

            Bandar Abbas is one of the main ports of Iran for importing goods, so we found it very busy and crowded. We heard from Anna’s father many goods are rusted in the damp weather of the city waiting to be carried to other cities. He told us foods and fruits are getting rotted every day in tons, just because programming is not right. They are imported from different country, by the government, but they have to wait here for weeks till they could be carried to other city especially Tehran. Most of the goods never reach anywhere and they will end into the sea. He believed main problem were management, and corruption. We stayed there for few days, Anna’s father was very kind and he did what ever he could to let us enjoy ourselves as much as possible, we went to the main Bazaar of the city and we found out how some are making profit through buying and selling black market goods. We went to Ghashem Island by a big boat with passengers twice number of its capacity.

 

 

Accept the dictatorial regime or leave the country

March 1975 after announcement of agreement between Shah and Iraqis over Arvand River and end of hostility between two countries, we heard many leaders and fighters of Iraqis Kurdish people had to come to Iran and live as refuges near Tehran in Karaj. For us it was a sad story how those people were hopping with help of Shah they can achieve some kind of Autonomy and now when Shah had achieved his goal left them alone. I think we could feel sense of betrayal, which those people felt. But for us it was another face of Shah. After this victory of him, we witnessed new game of Shah, creation of single party called ‘Rastakhiz’ or National Resurgence Party. Well for us it didn’t mean any thing, we never were interested in any political party of Iran and were considering all of them the same, some toys of the Shah’s rule. He could create new parties, change their leaders and abandon them as he wished; it was no concern of people.

            The way, which they were running political parties, was so openly artificial for every body, which they didn’t care to make it a little more acceptable for people. Shah and his prime minister, very bluntly were sacking and designating new parties and general secretaries of opposition parties. So we were completely indifferent about creation of this new single party system, as matter of fact somehow we were relieved that the game of democracy is ended and now every body in the world can see real face of political system of Iran. But this was not just creation of new party, shah with creation of this party very bluntly declared his ownership of the country and asked who ever is not agree with him to leave the country. In his speech on March 1975, which was broadcast from state radio and TV and at the same day was printed in all different newspapers he said: “We must straighten out Iranian’s ranks. To do so, we divide them into two categories: those who believe in Monarchy, the constitution, and the sixth Bahman Revolution (I.e. the date on which the Shah’s White revolution was announced in 1963); and those who don’t . . . A person who does not enter the new political party and does not believe in the three cardinal principles which I referred to, will have only two choices. He is either an individual who belongs to an illegal organisation, or is related to the outlawed Tudeh Party, or in other words is a traitor. Such an individual belongs in an Iranian prison, or if he desires he can leave the country tomorrow, without even paying exit fees; he can go anywhere he likes, because he is not an Iranian, he has no nation, and his activities are illegal and punishable according to the law. An individual who is neither an element of the Tudeh Party and or a stateless traitor, but who does not believe in the three principles, is free on condition that he openly expresses his disapproval and if he is not anti nationalist, we will leave him free. But if he applies double standards, or hides to cover up an incident, or plays around as we have seen some do, this is not acceptable. Everyone must be man enough to clarify his position in this country. . . . .” (Ministry of information and tourism pamphlet pp.-13)

            These were strongest word used by him not only against his opponent but also against all Iranian who ever was not agreeing with him and his so-called ‘white revolution ‘. Many common Iranian were not agree with him but were not opposing him either, they neither wanted to involve themselves with his actions, nor wanted to join revolutionary groups or as he liked to call his opponents, ‘Tudeh party ‘ which nobody liked that party any way. We used to call them puppet of Soviets and not Iranian. Now he was asking all Iranian to join his new invention, other wise to be called traitor and mercenary of foreign countries . . . Any way after few months we, like many Iranian found out we have no choice except joining this party of Shah, but what really it meant was nothing. It didn’t create any thing but more hate for him and his system.

 

 

Fire under ashes

I liked classic music, theatre, and certain movies, but never had a chance to see any theatre, that summer Farzad and I went to Shiraz to see Festival of art, every year organised by Queen Farah. There were plays and music from many countries of the world, but soon we found out that we can’t see many of them, as there were limited tickets available and were very expensive as well, we only managed to see two or three programs. In one of them which was I think a play from one of the south east Asian countries, Artists used to become half naked and come in between the crowd and as it was down in an open area, it could be seen by passer byes as well. I found it unbelievable to do some thing like this in front of Moslem Iranian people. As matter of fact during that festival we found Shiraz and even Isfahan were changed into some kind of Theatre, as many people from different countries with different dresses were walking in the streets like they were walking in an European street. Nobody was bothered to think what Iranian people think about all this, especially traditional people of Isfahan. We went to ‘Shah Charagh ‘ one of the holy places of Shiraz, where people around that area are very religious, but soon we found tourists and even higher class of Iranian where walking in that area without any consideration all the same. Perhaps rise of interest in religion among younger generation and students was some kind of reaction to this culture, which had been imported and was spreading by Shah. I think our opposition toward western culture was some kind of reaction and show of opposition toward Shah and his dreams for us, which we didn’t have any say on them. I was not religious and didn’t have any thing against western culture but I have to admit after seeing some students in our university with Chador (veil), I couldn’t stop admiring them for their commitment into their believe and with their action which didn’t mean anything but opposition towards Shah in Iranian manner (i.e. passive resistance, by advocating their culture). Iranian always with their culture have resisted against foreign domination, now when foreigners were going to exploit us through their culture we had to fight them back, with the same device. Unlike Arabs or Mongols domination of Iran we were not able to benefit from our national culture as Shah himself was advocating it. Hence the only device was religious culture and this was what people were going to do. In final year of my study in Iran I saw that the number of students praying in the university was increased, some how I could see more students with beard, which was symbol of being good Moslem.

 

During winter 1975, as universities were closed we were able to travel and see most part of our country. We went to small and big cities, Yazd, Kerman, Bandar Shapur, Shiraz, Ahvaz, Arak, Khomaien, . . . In these trips we were able to see other faces of our country. I found out there is two Iran and whenever we talk about Iran we have to think which one are we talking about. In some cities like Yazd or Kerman although they are capitals of their provinces and also most of the small towns and villages every where except perhaps rich north provinces of the country, one couldn’t see much change since fifty or even hundred years before. While in cities with attractions for tourism and Industrial activities like Isfahan and Shiraz things were different and one could see high and modern buildings wider street and roads . . . although even this cities were far from Tehran itself. So I could say Iran was divided into two parts Tehran and few large cities in one hand and other big and small cities and almost all villages in other hand. Most of the wealth of the country, what ever was left after expenditure for armament, was going to be spending in the former one and very little for the later one. For example we found out that the road between Shiraz and Ahvaz Two large cities of Iran was nothing more than what we used to have in ancient times, perhaps in the same condition, which was paved by Alexander army. Many villages and small towns didn’t have drinking water and electricity. Many times in many places during our long trip, we faced flood and after that we could see no more road, we could see villages surrounded by the flood, but it seemed for people living there it was some thing normal and they were not used to see any reaction from the government. They were not expecting any improvement in their road or their way of life. People in those small villages and towns had their own traditional way of life and were completely ignorant about what ever was happening in Tehran and what ever Shah was saying about ‘White Revolution ‘ or ‘Rastakhiz ‘. All these talks right or wrong were for people in Tehran and few large cities. I could see some thing else as well. What was mutual effect of sending school graduates of Tehran and big cities as ‘Sepah Danish ‘ for their military service to those villages. We as Tehran students, seeing people of our country in that situation and on the other hand seeing wealth of people in north of Tehran could feel nothing less than hatred for the Shah and his regime. So I presume this was the same feeling many of those recruits of army could feel by working in those villages. They were not able, empty handed to do any thing to improve the standard of living of those people and instead could feel desperate and useless and hateful. They could generate these feelings among people in those villages by increasing their expectation and in return among people of big cities by telling them what ever they had seen in those villages where people know nothing about hospital or doctor, nothing about modern way of life and have to live on basic production of themselves. Many from younger generation seeing this gap between poor and rich and situation of poor in the country were forced to find some sympathy for the revolutionary groups.

            During 75 and 76 we could see prices are rising day by day, People were tired of shortage and high prices of the goods. At the same time one could see expectation of people has raised as well, now there were more people called middle class, than ever, they were not prepared to have low standard of living as before. Electrical goods, cars, modern equipment, were in short supply and expensive. Perhaps in the past we could live without them, but by then as we could hear and see how expensive our oil is sold in international market and how much ruling elite of society are benefiting from that. We couldn’t keep our expectation as low as before especially with this new culture of advertisement from west, which were filling our TV and Radio’s programs. Every day we were facing shortage of something one day it was meat another day banana or even essential needs of the people.

             Some how we could feel shortage of meat is not comparable with any other time, there were many rumour among people. To fight against these shortages, government start importing different goods faster and even sometimes by air. By now, new kind of resistance against the Shah’s regime began. ‘Negative Resistance’. For example to resist against consumption of imported meat, religious leaders announced a decree that those meats are ‘Haram ‘ (forbidden to eat), as cattle have not been killed in Islamic manner. To fight against it government announced that they have sent some people with a mullah to the exporting countries to supervise slaughter of the cattle. Then we heard another rumour that people have found worm in the meat. Every day people were inventing new way to resist by spreading rumour and making political jokes. Some times officials were responding to those problems, which could produce enough material for many new jokes. For example once Valian governor of Khorassan said: “people are complaining about shortage of fruit, did their fathers used to have as much fruit as they are having, if they can not have fresh fruit they can have fruit juice or compote.” It was quite like what Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) told French people that if they cannot find bread they could eat biscuits.

            To fight against shortages and high rising prices, Shah ordered creation of an organisation from some of the students, active members of Rastakhiz party to check all different shops for controlling the prices and hoarding of goods. As he felt the source of these problem are benefiting merchants and shopkeeper. These actions of Shah not only solved any problem but created even more, now even merchants and shopkeepers who generally had better life than others became his enemy. On the other hand it was said that this is new trick of Shah to create some kind of hatred among people, against students who are vanguard of opposition against Shah and his regime. One of my friends Behzad had a boutique, he used to say “now we have new kind of thieves in the dress of students, any time we see them we have to give them something to get rid of them.” So soon fighting against corruption create new kind of corruption.

 

 

Departure from our beloved country

By the end of my study, we decided as I had few admissions from different universities in England for MSc. Course, to go there. By the same time we found out that we are going to have a baby. Though in the bottom of heart both Anna and I were very happy, I couldn’t stop my self worrying about new responsibility especially as we were going to a foreign country where we didn’t know any thing about it and there was nobody over there to help us.

             We sold our belongings. It was funny that I sold my car after using it for few years with the same price, which I bought it, and the one who bought it from me was very happy to buy it as cheap as that! It was the same for our TV and our hi-fi and our carpets. With part of that money we paid the university’s fee that we owed to the government, so I could be free to leave the country. With the rest of it and rent of the flat given to me by my father, we could support ourselves while we were living in UK. So eventually on June 1976 we said good-bye to our family and friends in Tehran’s airport and moved to London.

 

First few weeks stay of us in London was horrible, although now we were free and could feel sense of freedom and not being afraid of Shah and his SAVAK. At the same time we could feel what we were missing. Our country, its weather, its people, our culture and our costumes, even we felt we are missing fruits and foods of our country. Although they were in short supply and more expensive but had different taste. More than any thing else we were missing our friends and relatives, those who always were taken for granted and now we didn’t have them, and we didn’t know when and how we are going to see them again. Any way I had to decide about universities which I had admission from them for continuation of my study for MSc. Eventually we decided to go to the Reading University.

            With the start of English course in the university, we found new friends from different part of the world, Tomas from Spain, Estavros from Greece, Daniel from Venezuela, and few friends from Chilli, and other Latin American countries. It was very strange to see against huge geographical distance between our countries we have so much in common. We saw Reading prison Where Oscar Wilde was prisoner. When we were in Iran I saw a movie based on his story ‘The picture of Dorian Gray ‘ which had great effect on me, his way of looking at life and ‘good and bad’. I was remembering most of the arguments of that film and was discussing about them with our new friends. Apart from philosophy and our countries, most of the time we were talking about politic. One day I teased our Chilean friend and told him: “what did you do with great Allende.” He didn’t wait for a second and told me: “the same thing which you did to ‘great Mossadeq ‘.” There were two other Chilean students in our course whom we heard from our friend that they are from secret police of Chile and he was very careful not to criticise their government in front of them. With our Greek friends we used to talk about dictatorship of colonel’s rule, which was ended on July 74, and at the same time we were teasing each other over attack of Alexander to Iran and Xerxes (Khashayar shah) to Greece. With Tomas we used to talk about dictatorship of General Franco which less than a year before by his death was ended. In September we heard about death of Mao, all students from different countries when they heard about this news showed the sign of sadness, we all shared the same feeling. Because we knew him as one of the last revolutionaries. Our feeling for him was not due to our knowledge about his thought or his leadership for Chinese, as we didn’t know any thing about them at all. What ever could be read in our media and here in Britain was unbelievable for us as his ‘Imperialist enemies’ wrote them. We Iranian after his meeting with one of the hated personalities in Iran, Ashraf, twin sister of Shah, felt great reservation about him. Yet as long as we could see opposition towards him and his thoughts in western and Iranian media, it meant for us that he was OK, so we were sorry to lose him as well. For us the law of ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend ‘ was strongly in force. As a result hardly we ever saw or accept wrong doings of Mao in China or even Poll Pot in Cambodia. For us failure of American aggression in Indo China, especially their surrender in Vietnam meant that they have to think twice from now on in dealing with third world countries and supporting local dictators vehemently.

            Fortunately against all Shahs’ help for the campaign of Ford administration, he lost the election on November 1976 and a democrat Jimmy Carter was elected as the next president of the United States. As much as it was good news for us it was not for the Shah and perhaps many more dictators around the world.

            With the start of academic year I found new friends in our department among them, Mahmud; he was a PhD. Iranian student. Soon when he was introduced to me by my supervisor, Dr. Bains, from his beard, I realised he is a religious guy. When we were invited to Mahmod’s house, I found out his wife is wearing scarf and Islamic dress. It was very strange for me to see Mahmud is avoiding talking to Anna and leaving her mostly to talk with his wife, and even when he was forced to talk with Anna, he was avoiding looking at her face. For us this behaviour was new and some how insulting, but as they were very kind and help full we start to understand them and act in the same manner as they wished. So rarely I was talking to his wife and whenever I had to, I learned not to look at her while I was talking to her. They were trying to recruit us, so Mahmud told us about Ali Shari’ati and opening of Husseinieh-i Ershad, a mosque, where Shari’ati had his speech over there. It was very interesting for me to hear that Shah has forced to accept this amount of freedom for the people. Later on I found out that with doing this Shah wanted to distract younger generation from communists who were main worry of him. Mahmud gave us some book from Shari’ati. They were written in very simple language, understandable for every body. In his books for the first time I was able to see some connection between religion and everyday life, between religion and science, history, politic and most important of all, people and their misery. Even in his books, there were a lot of criticism against reactionary traditions and religious customs, the same traditions and believes which were forcing younger generation to take distance from religion. It was for few years, which, I didn’t have, any thing to do with religion, when I start feeling religion is noting but superstitious, and has noting to do with reality and twenty centuries problems. But now Anna and I were reading Shari’ati’s books and were learning from them.

 

Jan. 1977, Anna was going to give birth, to our dear first child. Our mothers, to help us came to England. It was to good to have them. We could feel less alone and help less. At the same time as we Iranian say, “they had smell of our country “so we could be less home sick.

            Anna’s labour was one of the most difficult moments of my life by then. I was with her in operating room and was witnessing her pain. At the same time as I had a stone in my kidney I had very bad kidney pain which was with me for several months. Between these two pains enduring the latter one was much simpler. It was very difficult for me to be as helpless as that. To see her pain and not being able to do any thing about it. Eventually she gave birth to a beautiful daughter of us, which we called her ‘Sarvenaz ‘ after the name of a beautiful tree in Iran. My main hobby was taking photograph and film. Before Sarvenaz’s birth, which soon we nicknamed her Sarvy my main subject for photograph and film were Anna and nature. Every day Anna and I used to go to the lake near to our house and watch beauty of nature, flower and trees in summer and their yellow leaves in autumn. Over there I used to take photograph of them and film of dancing swans on iced lake of ours. For hours I was following a butterfly to take a photograph of it or take film of an opening flower. But now I had another model for my photographs and films, our pretty Sarvy. Sometimes I was waiting by her bed to take film of her when she was waking up, when we were feeding her and she was throwing food everywhere and when we were washing her. I was very thankful of hospital personnel and doctor, who helped us to have our healthy baby. They were very kind and understanding. As matter of fact I found most of our British friends and lecturer, my supervisor and our head of Department, kind, understanding, polite and likeable. Once I was talking with my friend Mahmud and I told him about my feeling for those around us. He was not very pleased and reminds me about what older generation of the same people did to us, and how much still they were benefiting from our oil and us. He told me: “they can afford to be kind and generous as they get their wealth from pocket of ours. British oil companies and merchants and other manufactories have became so rich during years of exploitation of countries like ours which spending part of it for their own people and fraction of that for foreigners who are coming to their country is nothing. If our people had fraction of not other’s wealth but wealth of our country itself, I could tell you how kind and generous we could be.”

 

 

The Mojahedin

Once I saw a pamphlet in our student union building with the name and emblem of Mojahedin, it was about activities of that group in Iran. When I told Mahmud about it. He gave me piece of history about the group; I found out Mojahedin Organisation was founded in 1965 by six former members of the Liberation Movement under Mehdi Bazargan, (The first prime minister after the 1979 revolution). Mohammed Hanifnezhad, Sa’ed Mohsan, Ali Asghar Badizadegan, Mohammed Askarizadeh, Rasoul Moshkinfam, and Ahmad Reza’i. (Mojahedin only name the first three as their original founder of the organisation). Hanifnezhad, the oldest and central figure or first leader of the organisation was an agricultural engineer. Born in 1938 in a clerical family in Tabriz (capital of province of Azerbaijan). After 1963 uprising Mojahedin along with other revolutionaries including Feda’ian reached to this conclusion that old way of opposition to the dictatorship of Shah is not working and they have to adopt new methods of resistance. They argued: “The bloody massacres of 1963 were a major landmark in Iranian history. Until then, the opposition had tried to fight the regime with street protests, labour strikes, and underground networks. The 1963 blood bath, however, exposed the bankruptcy of these methods. After 1963, militants-irrespective of their ideology- had to ask themselves the question: ‘what is to be done’? The answer was clear: ‘guerrilla warfare’.” The first Strategic book of Mojahedin was called: ‘Mobareze’a Chiest? ‘ (What is the Struggle?). In this book, The first stage’s strategic aim was: To train responsible members who could be knowledgeable of all different area of struggle, ‘Masoulin-a hame’a janebe’a’, those who in the future could lead the struggle, overcoming “the main weakness of the past struggle “namely lack of leadership. In this book they concluded that: The main enemy (who has stood against path of evolution at this stage) is worldwide imperialism under leadership of American Imperialism, with these characteristic: A- Imperialism has a character which wants to swallow the whole world. B- There is no human relationship between Imperialism and People under domination, what ever is, is either slavery or liberation struggle. C- Imperialism is beat able (or Stroke able), from within and without. Imperialism is a paper tiger. They empathised on theoretical work, especially ideological one. And condemned adventurous actions. Their main Ideological book were: ‘Shanakht ‘ (knowledge and understanding), ‘T’akamul’ (Evolution), ‘Rah’a Anbia, Rah’a Bashar ‘ (Path of prophet, Path of human beings), ‘Nahzat-i Husseini’ (Hussein’s Movement), ‘Tabi’ian Jahan ‘ (Explanation of universe), ‘Dynamism of Koran’.

            Mojahedin began their military operations in August 1971. Their first operations were designed to disrupt the extravagant celebrations of the 25-century anniversary of the monarchy. SAVAK through one of the old member of Tudeh party, who was recruited by them, could infiltrate into Mojahedin and soon was able to arrest another sixty-six members. In the subsequent months, the group lost the whole of its original leadership through executions or street battles. Despite these heavy losses, the organisation survived and found new members. In 1975 Mojahedin faced a coup among their members out side of prison, some of them including leader ship of the organisation outside prison decided to change the ideology of the organisation from Islam to Marxism. Some members who did not accept this change of Ideology were expelled from the organisation. Even later one of them called Sharif vaghafi was killed by Marxist organisation of Mojahedin.

            Well, still it was early for me to think in the same manner as Mojahedin, I praised them for their courage and self sacrifices, but I was not able to accept what ever they were doing and saying. I think Mahmud realised that too. So he didn’t give me any more Mojahedin’s book, instead he gave me more Shari’ati’s books, which were very interesting for me. The way which he was describing Islam, the respect of this religion for individual rights and freedom. Defending oppressed and at the same time being compassionate and merciful. For the first time I was able to understand the philosophy of many Islamic orders such as pray, or fasting, Hajj (going to Mecca) . . . For example I learned that when we pray for God and we bow in front of him, it implies that we are permitted just to bow for God and nobody else. So it is forbidden to bow in front of any human beings. Or symbol of anything else including money, power. By praying few times per day we are reminding ourselves several times per day, who is great and who is not (i.e. Shah, riches and those ruling class and big foreign countries.), who is powerful and who is not, who is able to see and hear everything and who is not. Whom should we praise and ask for mercy and help and whom we shouldn’t. By fasting we were training ourselves not to surrender ourselves to our animal instincts. We had to learn to be able to control our hanger and sex demands. . . . Through his book I could see logic and science. He was able to solve contradictions of religion and logic and science. With reading his books I cried again for death of prophet and murder of Imam Hussein.

            At the same time I found a friend who was member of confederation of Iranian students in Europe and America. I found out that political students outside of the country are divided into two groups. Those who were pro National front and Marxist groups were gathered in confederation and those supportive of Moslem revolutionary groups and ‘Nahzat Azadi’ were in other organisation called Union of Islamic Societies. This two organisation had their political differences but against Shah they were united and some times they were organising joint demonstrations and meetings.

            Still it was early for me to become advocate of either tendency, from one hand I was reading Shari’ati’s books and one or two book from Bazargan and on the other hand ‘Capital of Marx’ books from Engels and Lenin and Feda’ian Books which were stranger and more difficult for me to understand and accept.

             

            After few months our mothers left us and we had to learn to look after our little daughter ourselves. In winter we travelled to France. In Paris we met my nephew and his wife and their child. It was very strange to see them, changed completely. When Reza my nephew was in Iran. He was a very handsome pro fashion young man, as old as me, now his hair was short; he had a beard, and like Mahmud, was avoiding looking at the face of women. I found out that he is even against taking photographs and I had difficult time to persuade him to take a photograph with us. His uncle my cousin was Abol-Hasan Banisadr and I think Reza was disciples of him. Somehow I felt his wife had been forced to have Islamic dress. Any way this was the side of Religion, which was difficult for both of us Anna and I to accept. In spring I heard from Mahmud that Shari’ati had been poisoned by Shah’s agent and had died in London. Although it was never proved that Shah’s Agent killed him, but as we were expecting anything like that from Shah’s SAVAK we did accept it without any hesitation. It was very sad for me. I wished I knew he was in London and I could see this Great man. In summer few of our relatives including my nephew and my nice and my sister and eventually my father and my stepmother and youngest sister came to London and were our guest for few days. I heard from my father that the situation in Iran is worse than before. There was shortage of water and electricity in Tehran and many days they had to live without any electricity in hot weather of Tehran. Air pollution had reached to highest level and my father was not able to drive any more and preferred to stay at home most of the time, which I knew how difficult it could be for him. Although he was over eighty but he was quiet healthy and was walking in London shopping centre as fast and as long as us without any complain.

 

 

Splash of drop of water to kill a volcano

With drop in oil demand and, descent in oil price, financial situation in Iran was getting worse and worse. Shah needed an escape goat for his failure. So he let every body to put the blame of failure in all areas on his Government and his prime minister. For the first time he let his government to be criticised publicly. Eventually in Aug. 1977 to save himself, Shah decided after twelve years to change his ‘loyal servant ‘ prime minister, Amir Abas Hovida and appointed American educated Jamshid Amouzegar master mind of increase in oil prices as his new prime minister to save him from many problems which he was facing.

            About the same time we saw demonstration of Iranian students in front of White house where Carter was greeting Shah and his wife who were over there to persuade new administration to support the shah and his actions in Iran. As a result of wind which blow all tear gases dropped by police for dispersion of students toward Shah and Farah and their host, we could see how badly Shah is crying. It was very meaning full for us. At the same time my oldest brother Sha’a was in London, I told him we smell a revolution. He said do you think so? I said “yes look at the papers and listen to BBC can’t you see change of mood, It seems they have found out that they are unable to keep shah in power any more.”

            Now I was talking more and more about politic with Mahmud and other Iranian friends of mine in the university. In September for the first time Mahmud talked about Khomeini and told me that he is going to lead the revolution against Shah. This one was too much for me to swallow. A mullah leading the revolution! I couldn’t hold myself, and start laughing. I knew Khomeini from my childhood and I had some respect for him, as I knew him as one of those rare people who stood against Shah. But even so, as he was a mullah, I never could look at him as a leader or at least my leader or my guru. I never had seen a good and intellectual mullah. I had heard many times from those who I was respecting that: “all, mullahs are thinking about, is their belly and underneath of it. (I.e. sex). Either they pretend they are against them while they are against others having them. Or they don’t talk about them while all the time are fantasising them.” So in no way I could accept Mahmod’s predication and some how I was afraid of it. Long before that I wrote a story. It was story of a young man who was searching for the truth. He found a stone, which on that stone this sentence was written: “who ever who captures ‘Parandeh’ a Azadi ‘ (freedom bird) is able to know the truth of the life.” The young man start searching for that bird, and when he found it as he thought that message is carried by the bird physically. Threw an arrow towards the birth. {By the death of that bird sun gone and night came, ‘ZAMIN DAHAN BAZ KARD ‘ the earth had cleft from between and old, very old, thousand years old, dark dressed men came from underneath of earth to rule the world of darkness . . . Poor young man, who thought by killing the bird he could capture the truth, start searching again. This time not for the freedom or the truth but for brightness and sun. Now he had to fight against those who were hidden in the centre of earth for thousands of years waiting for the death of the freedom and the truth.}.

 

I was tired of the Shah and Iranian regime and like many Iranian wanted a change. But I was not for neither a communist or religious type of Revolution. My ideal was Mossadeq type of government. Even with Shah while some people from National front or Freedom movement of Bazargan as later I learned to call them ‘Liberals ‘ could be in power. My hope was having some kind of constitutional monarchy, some thing like what I could see in Britain or other European countries, like what had happened in Spain. We all were hoping and waiting to see some changes and as all paranoid Iranian were looking to see what kind of plan American and British have for us and how can we deal with that. I had heard from my father and others that when British want to change a government, first they start by bombarding the news about tyranny and miss-doings of that government. Like when out of the blue they start calling Reza shah as a dictator and . . . Or their propaganda against Mossadeq. Now everyday we were listening to BBC in Persian language and we could hear that they are giving news against Shah. It was good news and good message for us, but on the other hand we were confused to see and hear that David Owen, Foreign secretary is supporting Shah vehemently. At the same time Carter had a trip to Iran, which was meaning full, and over there he called Iran as an Island of peace and stability. These were completely opposite to what we were feeling and seeing. Much later we could find out that this confusion was not ours but was confusion of American and British towards the situation of shah’s regime and its chance of survival.

 

 

First spark of the revolution

On Jan. sixth 1978 Etla’at one of two main papers of Iran published an article about Khomeini and called him as usually Shah used to call him ‘black reactionary ‘. Soon after that theology students of holy city of Ghom (near Tehran) while were wearing ‘Kafan ‘ (clothes which corps of deaths before burial are wrapped in it.) on ninth of January poured into the streets of that city and demonstrated against Shah. Next we heard that Shah’s police and SAVAK who were not used to any kind of demonstrations except organised ones to praise Shah, fired on demonstrators and killed few of them. This was start of the revolution and no doubt the leader of this revolution was chosen by the same day as well. For us Iranian ‘Shahadat ‘ (Martyrdom) was not just a title, which was given to the people who were killed in an accident defending the goal of people or other good causes. Shahadat was much more than that; it was an ideology or a philosophy. Its roots nationally was going as far as Aria Barzin (an Iranian commander who defendant Iran against Alexander. Alexander killed him and all his soldiers. ), And Arash Kamangir (myth personality, who lost his life while throwing an arrow to point boundary of Iran and Turan (myth neighbour of Iran) to point the boundary between two countries). Religiously all Iranian Imams except the last one according to Shia’a history had been killed by the rulers of their time. The most notably, Imam Hussein who is called ‘SARDAR Shahidan ‘ (The commander of all martyrs). This ideology is in the conscious or unconscious mind of all Iranian. Very rarely you could find somebody denying it. We knew perfectly well that why Shah didn’t kill Mossadeq, It was from fear of this Ideology. Although some used to say it was advice of British who were very familiar with this mentality of Iranian and if it was up to American and Shah himself, most certainly Mossadeq like his foreign minister was going to be killed. Shari’ati in most of his books praised ‘Shahidan ‘ (martyrs) and theorised it. According to his definition. Shahid is not dead but is as alive as every body else. So is forbidden to cry for him or express condolence for his death. Instead one who is very ideological person should congratulate another one for the death of such person as most certainly he is going to heaven and according to Koran’s verse he will be judged in the same ground as messengers of God.

            In ‘Shab Chaheloom ‘ (a ceremony after forty days passed from the death of a person), martyrs of Ghom there were a demonstration in Tabriz (Capital of Azerbaijan of Iran, north west of the country). As a result more people were killed in this demonstration. We heard it from BBC on the same day. And later there was message of Khomeini about it. At the same time we were listening to the Iranian Radio, or as we used to call it Shah’s Radio. I believe one of the advocates of the revolution were those who were responsible for Shah’s propaganda machine. They used to lie so bluntly that not only were not able to solve any problem but instead were creating more hate toward Shah’s regime. They were lied for so many years and as openly as they were crystal clear for every body including the most ignorant people of the country, which even if they were saying any truth, nobody was accepting it any more. Somehow we had found a way to interpret their news and find the truth of what was going on immediately. We knew when news is short; it means something is going on badly. No news meant a lot of news. And vice versa a lot of news meant no news. We had to reverse every thing to find the truth. Those who were reading the news in Iranian radio and television, were so hated that some times we were feeling that we are ready to kill them with bare hand. Not only they were denying the reality and were lying to the people and betraying them and the country, but they were swearing at people, their goal and what ever which were the most respectable for them. Any way we heard funny story by Amouzegar the prime minister, about that demonstration which was far from his intellectuals. He said those who demonstrated were coming from abroad (i. e. Russia as Tabriz is very close to the border of Iran and (by then) Soviets). I felt this must have come from Shah himself and his propaganda machine, which were so foolish and desperate, ready to say anything to save themselves. In forty days after martyrs of people of Tabriz there was demonstrations in most major cities of Iran, including Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Ahvaz. . In Isfahan extend of demonstration and attendance of people was as high as Shah found no way except announcement of martial law in the city. From then on there was no stop to the revolution every day we could hear small or large demonstration here and there. People were attacking symbol of the Shah’s rule. His import of western culture, cinemas. And Banks as symbol of financial misery of people and fortune of ruling elite of the society. Khomeini announced Shah is not legitimate ruler of Iran and people should not give him and his government any taxes. To confront him Shah’s supporters were saying Khomeini is not Iranian, his mother was an Indian women and he was Indian himself. Khomeini’s messages were sending to Iran by tape and was distributing through Mullahs and Mosques. Some times within few hours most of Iranian knew his speech and his message. By that time it was said that there were almost 85 thousand theological students and with mullahs some used to say there were almost 200 thousand of them. Khomeini was talking in simple language, which was understandable for all Iranian from all walks of life. He could explain his mind very simple and with straight examples. Never gave a slogan far from understanding and wish of common Iranian. He could listen and understand majority of Iranian people and repeat their message to unite them with the same slogan against their common enemy. Shah who never was able to be a decision maker in this sort of situation needed badly somebody else to tell him what to do. But neither it was 1953 when Zahedi with the help of CIA could attack the Mossadeq’s government and people and arrange a coup for returning him to power. Nor it was 1963 when Alam could order the Martial law and asks soldiers to face demonstrators without any mercy. Now most of those who were around Shah were people who didn’t dare to tell him what to do. They were people who had learned to obey without asking any questions. They were looking at shah to see and find out what he wants to say so they could repeat it as well, and admire his talent and ability for seeing forthcoming events. Even his army generals were used to just obey and flatter Shah, to worship him and be loyal to him. Shah according to people around him had reached to the point, which was teaching foreign leaders including American and British, how to run their countries. So who dared to tell him what to do? But to order killing of people in mass he needed either some body strong enough around him to give him, his self-confidence, which there was none. Or an order or clue from his protectors in America and Britain, which because of change of policy they were not prepare to go for a coup or mass murder as before. As a result Shah was advocating contradictory policies towards these events. From one hand he was showing some muscle by establishing martial law in different cities and giving orders to the soldiers to stand against people. On the other hand when he was seeing firmness from people’s side he was not able to stand against it and comprised by giving some concessions. For example he changed his loyal head of SAVAK, ‘Nasiri ‘ and later his government ordered for his arrest. Later while in captivity, he was executed by the revolutionary court.

 

 

Toward new destiny

By June I finished my study in Reading University and got my MSc in Eng. Maths. Before ending my course I wrote to different universities for continuation of my study for obtaining my PhD. I had admission from Leeds, Loughborough, London and Newcastle universities. Living in London was very expensive and even salary of the university of London was so high which we felt we cannot afford it. New castle was too far and too cold for us. Between two universities Leeds and Loughborough, we travelled to both cities and eventually we chose the second one. Before signing any contract we received an invitation from my cousin Hussein who was studying in medical school of Edinburgh and was living with his wife and their daughter. In our way to Edinburgh we decided to stop in New castle upon Tyne and visit the department, which I had an admission from. When we reached to New castle, it was a sunny and beautiful day, we decided to stay one day more, and we went toward seashore. Sea was beautiful and after few years we could go and play with sands, I made a sand castle for Sarvy, which by now was learning how to walk. In my interview I felt I like my supervisor and at the same time I felt the subject of my research is interesting and useful for the future of Iran as it was a joint research between departments of Eng. Maths. and Chemical Eng. By the end of my research I was able to solve some of the problem in oil refinery. Anna liked the city as well she told me this city is more alive than Loughborough and Leeds, and it seems its people are more friendly than any where else which we had been by then. In our way back from Edinburgh we stopped in New Castle again and I accepted the admission of the University, we filled some application form for accommodation. Later we found a nice semi detached house in Wide open with a very nice landlord and neighbours. Any time afterward I was thinking about how we reached to this decision, I feel it was pure chance; good or bad one; perhaps it was our destiny. If we were not invited to go and visit my cousin, if that day which we were in New castle, weather was not sunny and instead we were facing strong winds of that city. If my future supervisor was not giving his last comment about relation between my research and problem in oil refinery. Were we going to go to that city??! And if not I was never were going to become a politician and what I became latter. I feel this was my destiny, which unlike my usual way of facing future every thing came without pre planed decisions.

 

Aug. 1978 we heard two important news. One a very sad one; we heard that cinema Rex in Abadan (south west of Iran) was put on fire and more than six hundred people had burned alive in that cinema. We heard from BBC Persian news that Khomeini has announced that this had been done by the SAVAK agents who wanted to undermine revolutionary acts of people. At the same time Iranian radio was announcing that the fanatics or Islamic Marxist had done it. Well to interpret Shah’s radio as we used to do, it had to be done by the SAVAK, other wise we were not able to hear it at all. When they were talking about it for so long, it meant it had to be planned ahead, other wise Iranian radio was not ready to make stand about an event as fast as that and having so much to say about it was another indication. For responding to any sudden news, they had to go through different channels till reaching to the Shah, find his reaction and his response and announcing it, by then this could take days. On the other hand all different tendency including Mojahedin and Marxist groups announced the event as an act of SAVAK. So we did accept it as an act of SAVAK without any doubt. Although still it is not clear who was really behind this horrible event.

 

 

Desperate actions! Necessary but always late

The other news was about change of government. This time Shah chose Sharif Emami as his new prime minister. Some used to say he was chosen because of his link to British as Shah was feeling that the revolution is master minded by the British who are not happy with his oil policy. Shah who knew perfectly well how British brought his father to power and how abdicated him from power, how by the help of the CIA arranged a coup and brought him to power felt that now as he was one of the main advocates of increase in oil prices, they want to change him. He always had this paranoid and every day’s broadcast of BBC was advocating this idea. Even trip of David Owen, The British foreign secretary, although created a lot of hate among Iranian didn’t solve this paranoid of Shah and didn’t give him any courage which they were hopping to inject him, to make him able to face the uprising of the people. Others used to say he picked Sharif- Emami as he had close ties with some Mullahs. Any way whatever the reason was, it didn’t solve any of the Shah’s problem, perhaps by then some national figures were ready to accept his premier ship and there was a chance for him to save his monarchy. But he lost it and couldn’t gain it again. Still Shah was trying to give power to those whom were ready to give it back to him, those who were loyal to him and only to him. Sharif- Emami was his last concession at the time. Sharif-Emami changed the calendar back into the old Islamic one (i.e. it was changed by shah into Imperial calendar few years back, changing our calendar from 13 century into 25centry.) Sharif-Emami ordered closure of all wine shops and casinos. Freed most of political prisoners; ordered for arrest of few most hated ministers; increased wages of government employees; changed the head of Radio and Television, Reza Qotbi, relative of Farah, Shah’s wife. But none of this did any good. Few days after his appointment we heard Khomeini’s message which was directing everybody how to react against Shah’s choice. In his message he said, “Within past fifteen years and especially in past few months, Shah has killed so many innocent people and now has employed new satanic trick, . One has to listen to the call of people, they were not asking for the temporary closure of casinos and respect for ‘Aghaian’ (religious people). They are saying that we don’t want Shah and Pahlavi dynasty. It is essential that holy Islamic movement be carried out till the end of this tyrant regime.” He warned different factions of the movement to avoid any split in their ranks. And asked to be united more than ever against Shah’s regime.

            During those days from what I could see in our notice boards in the university of Reading and latter in the university of New Castle, I could see the split among oppositions which Khomeini was worried about. According to Mojahedin whom we were getting our news from, opposition were divided into two factions, namely right and left factions. According to their definition “right factions were ready to compromise with the regime. They were not asking for fundamental changes so they could be satisfied easily with some political reforms. On the other hand left faction was not prepared to accept any thing less than overthrow of the regime and was not prepare to go for any compromise. The leadership of this faction was with “Ayatollah Khomeini with his decisive and uncompromising stance. “(Mojahedin - Bakhtiar p 17).

            By seventh of September Sharif-Emami announced martial law in Tehran and 23 other cities. Next day people unaware of martial law were gathered in Jaleh Square in Tehran when army soldiers fired on them and killed many people. The number of death was varying, the regime announced 59, Opposite side were giving different number up to thousands. It was one of sad days of our life, I remember every day from morning till evening to find the truth, we were listening to different radios and were changing station to station to hear news from different sources, by now we could hear news of Iran every night from Television as well. It was so funny that although Iranian news were first news of all stations, those, which we could understand, and those, which were in, different language and only we could recognise name of Iran from their news; Iranian Radio was pretending that nothing is happening and every thing is calm, as usual. We heard this news almost immediately from BBC and we found out that as it had happened on Friday it had been named black Friday. There were many rumour as well, people were saying that soldiers who shoot at them were not Iranian and Shah had employed Israeli soldiers to fight against people, on the other hand Shah’s propaganda machine was claiming those who lead demonstrators, are from PLO. Next day when I went to the student union of the university to find out about latest news, I found a leaflet calling to attend a demonstration. We attend that demonstration, unlike Reading, I found many students are active in New Castle, there were almost three hundred students demonstrating which was quite good for those days. As we were new in the city we didn’t have any friends, we talked with some people, but we found they are from different cities all around New Castle.

            My study in the university had not been started, but as it was a research course, I had given a room to share it with three other PhD students. Also I was introduced to my supervisor in chemical department as well and I heard there is another Iranian who is working in the same subject in that department and we have the same supervisor. Eventually I met him, his name was Yahya, and he was in final year of his PhD study and was married. His wife’s name was Nasrin; she was very nice and kind Bah’aie woman who was studying in our university as well. Soon we start socialising with Yahya and his wife. Nasrin was very worried that if this movement win what will happen to her family and relatives. We were assuring them that nothing is going to happen to their family as all political forces, which we knew, were asking for freedom and their objection to the Shah’s rule was mainly over two words ‘ democracy ‘ and ‘independence ‘. Although by then more or less we could hear slogan of ‘Islamic republic ‘ as well, still main slogans were the first two.

            In the beginning of October president of Iraq, Sadam Hussein answered to the Shah’s call and expelled Khomeini from Iraq to France. Shah wanted him far from Iranian border and religious circle of Iraq. This expulsion had opposite effect, to what Shah’s desire. Now we were able to see and hear our new leader every day from our own television set. People in Iran, too, could hear him more clearly and more often from Persian language radios broadcast from European countries such as BBC, and American one. From now on he was much faster in responding to Shah’s new tricks if there was any!?

 

In Eng. Maths. Dept. my room mates were: one from Iran who was Bah’aie and was very against of involvement in politics and all the time was repeating that according to their religion they shouldn’t involve themselves in politics, I had hard time to persuade him, that this policy by itself is an political policy, so you have your own politic view. I was telling him that he couldn’t be so ignorant about what is happening in Iran, which can affect life of him and his family. He was like Nasrin afraid of what might happen for his families and relatives and used to say: “I am sure from what I see in the news and sort of people who lead demonstrations, when they came to power they will kill all Bah’aie’s.” He was very good and kind guy, he was clever and hard working, honest and polite. We could agree on almost all subjects except politic which he was running from it. Another roommate of mine was John from Tanzania, His father was Moslem and his mother was Christian, as a result he was considering himself as a Christian, he was married and they had a child. Soon we became friend and most of the times while I was in our office, we were talking with each other, we were talking about politic, I heard what colonial countries had down in Africa which I didn’t know much about that. I was telling him what have they down in our country. He was very happy for us and our revolution and was following it very closely so always we had plenty subject to talk about, although my Iranian friend was not very happy from those discussions and always was trying to direct them to some where else. Another roommate of us was a Japanese professor. Whose character was very interesting for all of us. He was there for a short research course, He was always reading something and didn’t bother us talking. It seemed for him we did not exist, and he was not hearing us. All the time he was in his world of Science. Some times we felt perhaps he has no feeling at all. The only conversion he had with us was when we were offering him a coup of tee, which he was showing a lot of respect and was thanking us like we have done something very great for him. Any way he was very quite nice old man, which soon we learned to learn few lessons from him.

 

With the start of new academic year, I was able to see more and more Iranian in the students union, some times I was noticing them, while they were arguing about politic. Normally there were discussions between Marxists and Moslems. They were arguing about different sentences of Koran. About how unreal its stories are, as matter of fact my first incursion in their discussions was when they were discussing about story of ‘Ashab Kahaf ‘, story of six or seven people, who found everywhere and all people around them had been swallowed by the corruption and immorality, and they were not able to do any thing about it. They decided to leave their home and immigrate to somewhere else. They searched and found out there is nowhere which they can have a bearable life in it. They were losing all their hope, At this point, they felt tired and sleepy, so decided to go to a cave and sleep over there. They went to deep sleep and slept, but not for normal hour, but for few hundred years. When they woke up without realising what has happened, felt they are very hungry, and need to eat something, so they went to the nearest city. Immediately when they entered into the city, they were astonished of the changes, buildings, dress of people, people’s behaviour, their modesty and gentleness. The corruption and immorality, which they knew, all were vanished. Even the money that they had and knew during their own time people were ready to kill each other for obtaining it, were valueless and nobody wanted them. Well the main argue about this story was that, my fellow communist were saying how come they were sleeping for hundreds of years and . . . On the other hand Moslems were insisting that the story is real and not imaginary. Through reading of Shari’ati books I had learned how to interpret stories of Koran, and learn from them. I think I had read about that story somewhere as well. So I tried to explain what the story wanted to say and teach us. As I was newcomer and everybody was curious to know me and my political affiliation, suddenly all became silent. They preferred to show some respect and instead of talking while I was explaining my side of story, they stopped talking and start listening to what I was saying. It was habit of those days which nobody used to listen to any body else, they liked to argue, but were not interested to listen to the answer to their arguments. Any way I explained to them that God want to say even if the entire world is sank in corruption and immorality. This is not an excuse to surrender yourselves, and lose your hope. If you find no way to recruit your people to fight against tyranny and corruption and . . . . You have to immigrate and soon your problem will be solved. This story want to say those things, which we think, are very valuable and never their value will diminish. One day will lose their value, those who are proud of their youth and beauty, soon will face old time and ugliness. In less than hundred years all this things which we value so much and are ready to sell all our humanity for obtaining them, will become worthless. Even at the start of this story God gives some example, which shows the main issue in this story is not miracle of God for letting these people live for few hundred years. Nor the number of people in this story is important. I think some how I left a good impression on those who were listening to me, as after ward they started shaking hand with me and suddenly I found few friends over there.

            Although by then still I was not considering myself as somebody belonging to this faction or other faction, and was searching to see what every body is saying. Some felt I am a very faithful Moslem and didn’t try to recruit me any more. Perhaps in this way my future and what should I be was set for me. Among those who we became friend of, one could see people from different factions, which existed at the time in our newborn revolution. Parviz and his sister Mino were from far left, they were supporting Feda’ian Guerrilla Organisation, but at the same time had some sympathy towards Marxist Mojahedin and other Marxist organisations. They were receiving Marxist books from Confederation of Iranian students and were selling those books in Student Union and in the Iranian meetings which were held over there. Then there was Ahmad, Mojgan, Aliraza and Mohammed who were supporting Shari’ati and Mojahedin and were selling their book, they used to receive their books from Union of Islamic societies, which didn’t last for long and I heard that supporters of Mojahedin did split from that organisation and were trying to create their own separate organisation. These people soon became closer to us than others. Some like Faried were in between; they were hoping to see Mojahedin and Feda’ian be united. So they could support them jointly. In far right there were some like Vahid, Jafar, and Darvish. They were supporting mullahs and were receiving their materials from union of Islamic Societies. Apart from these people there were some outcast people as well, people like Babak who was member of Tudeh, and few who were pro Shah and we were suspicious of them as we thought they are members of SAVAK.

            Most of the time those who were pro Shari’ati and Mojahedin and those who were pro Feda’ian were gathering in our house. Now we used to see the news together, and afterward we were listening to the news of different radios. Then it was time of discussion and interpretation. Although there were many disagreements among these group of people, but arguments were friendly and most of the times every body was ready to listen to others when they were saying something. The main issue of disagreement among this group of people was Bazargan. Some times Ahmad was defending him which I was gladly supporting him, while those more familiar with Mojahedin way of thinking were silent and those supporting Feda’ian where calling him Liberal and Bourgeoisie. In the beginning I didn’t know Liberal is a very bad label so when they were saying he is a Liberal, I didn’t mind, as matter of fact if some body was calling me a Liberal, I didn’t mind, and perhaps could be proud of. Soon I found out how bad is to call somebody a Liberal. From then on I was defending him and were saying he is not a Liberal, but a social democrat and a nationalist. During those days those who could go further toward left could talk louder and could feel that nobody is able to argue with them. As nobody could go any further toward left than Khomeini, every body admitted his leader ship, so nobody was questioning him. Any way we never were able to reach to any kind of agreement and when Anna was asking us to go for dinner every body was forgetting about discussion and was telling Anna how good cook she is and how delicious her food is. Some times Anna was showing some interest in this kind of discussions, but normally she was more interested in what was going on in Iran rather than these useless arguments.

            When we were discussing in the university with our fanatic Moslem friends, Parviz and Mino and Faried, I mean those who were pro Feda’ian were silent and perhaps were enjoying themselves and we were discussing, arguing and fighting with people like Vahid and Jafar. Some times I was feeling that I want to explode. My interest was the revolution itself, still I had not committed myself to any faction and more than any thing wanted to see unification of all those people. So I was trying to reach to some kind of concession with different group, but with those from fanatic faction, it was very difficult to reach to any kind of logical agreement. For example one day Jafar who was PhD student told us that people in Iran have seen the picture of Khomeini on the moon. As I knew every body is going to start fighting on this issue, immediately I said that: “well this kind of rumour is good for the moral of the people and bad for the moral of the Soldiers.” But this was start of the arguments from both sides. Jafar start arguing that what do you mean by ‘rumour ‘ ?! This was real and was seen by the millions of people in one night. Soon I found myself arguing with Jafar while every body else was silently watching us and perhaps laughing in their heart to us and discussion between two PhD students over the moon. Almost every fortnight there was a demonstration or meeting in the university or polytechnic of New Castle. These demonstrations and meetings normally was arranged and organised by Darvish and Asghar who was brother in law of Masoud Rajavi. Darvish who after the revolution became head of ‘Pasdaran ‘ (revolutionary guard) in one of northern province of Iran always was last person ready for demonstration and first one for finding the speaker and shouting slogans against the Shah. As a result Asghar who was executed by the new regime few years later did most of the work. Pro Tudeh students still didn’t have any position from their mother communist party in the Soviet Union, so they were looking at us silently and shamefully.

 

 

Meeting a family

One day I heard from Asghar or another friend of his that they have invited Abol-Hasan Banisadr to come to the New Castle to give us a speech. I think few hundred Iranian from different cites around new castle came to hear him. After the end of his speech I went toward him and introduced myself, it was the first time we were seeing each other, I was very young when he left the country, I invited him to our house, which he gladly accepted it and refused to go to any where else and told them that: “I have to go and see my cousin after twenty years.” As it was custom, along with him there were two of his supporters who came with us and some of my friends came as well. So after dinner long discussion started between him and my friends about differences between Marxism and Islam and why he thinks Islam is more progressive than Marxism. One of the people who were with him called a number in Tehran to get the latest news. After his conversion he said there has been a demonstration in Tehran and they say almost fifty people have been killed, My cousin said when they say fifty means five hundred as they can not see the real number of people who are killed in different streets and. Then he asked him to call to Paris and see if Khomeini has issued any thing on this issue. He called Paris and told the other side that He has heard five hundred people have been killed today, but the real number might be much higher perhaps even five thousand. I was astonished to hear that a number could grow so fast in two conversions. But I thought well this is a propaganda war as well. Shah hides many of his crimes and this people from what they see have to guess those which they can’t see. While we were talking we saw the news. In the news as usual Khomeini was shown while somebody was visiting him and was kissing his hand. After the news while people were asking my cousin philosophical questions, I asked him, very simple one: “why does Khomeini let people kiss his hand? And what is our guarantee that he doesn’t change into something like Shah?.” He told me he is an old man he can’t stop who ever who want to kiss his hand, he can not change habit of people in a single day. Then he added we have no guarantee for the future except ourselves if he changed into something like Shah, which is very doubtful, we have no alternative except to fight against him as we did against Shah. Some how that answer was complete for me, from that night I left all my doubts aside and became full advocate of the revolution and Khomeini.

 

 

Even Shah changed into a ‘revolutionary’

By November the number of demonstrations and activities of people in different cities reached to the level which Shah found he has no alternative except change of the government again, this time he chose a military man to save him, General Azhari. In one of his rarest speech Shah said that he has heard the voice of the revolution of people. He said:.”. The Iranian nation has risen against tyranny and corruption. The revolution of the Iranian nation cannot but be endorsed by me both as the Monarch and as an individual Iranian. “Then at the end he said: “In this revolution of the Iranian nation against colonialism, tyranny and corruption, I am at your side.” For us it was so funny to hear Shah like that, he was talking about Tyranny like it was tyranny of somebody else and he has been victim of that tyranny as well. We were wondering how poor Azhari a pathetic old general which like others his strong point in life always had been obeying the Shah could do with this revolutionary speech of Shah! And how people are going to take him seriously!? Next day we were telling each other about the Shah’s speech and were making joke about it and laugh about it. As one could guess during premiership of Azhari not only people didn’t stop demonstrating, but their demonstration grow faster and the number of demonstration and number of people attending in each one grow very fast. By now people were founding new tactics in dealing with soldiers, they were giving them flower and putting those flowers in to their rifle. At the same time were giving slogan of ‘BRADAR ARTASHY CHARA BRADAR KOSHI ‘ (our army brother why killing your brother) As a result few and fewer of soldiers were ready to shoot people and in many occasions they were taking off their cloths and were joining demonstrating people. Slogans of people were changed and among them we could hear more and more slogans of death to Shah and some times death to America. Mojahedin and other revolutionary organisations were not happy with the tactic of giving flower to the soldiers and believed that the only language, which had to be used, is language of force. They used to say: “let right faction who can not relay on any kind of military force asks people to give flowers to the soldiers and invite them (People) to praise the soldiers. As we are sure that eventually they will find out that the enemy only does understand language of force and bullet. For times being let them to carry on with their own tactic. We have to benefit from this tactic as well and let every body see how innocent Iranian people are.” (Mojahedin- Bakhtiar p 31) Mojahedin policy at that time was to support Khomeini vehemently, to keep people in high moral. Force them not to regret what they have lost, including lose of beloved ones, or wealth or some freedom, which they were enjoying during Sharif-Emami government. They were encouraging Khomeini in giving more and more promise of paradise to the martyrs of this revolution, they were saying this will keep moral of people in its highest point and they will be ready for more sacrifices. During Azhari government some of the ministers including Hovida loyal prime minister of shah were arrested, at the same time he ordered for the arrest of Bazargan and some of the leaders of National front. When through force he was trying to silence people and illegalise all kind of demonstration, Khomeini asked people to go to their roof and say ‘ALLAH’O AKBAR ‘ (God is great, which implied only God is great and people are only Should be afraid of God and nobody else). The next day when every body in every city in all different part of the country could hear the sound of Allah’o Akbar, Azhari came to the radio and while he was not able to deny loud sound of this slogan everywhere, said it was not sound of people which could be heard but sound of a Tape which were playing by few people. Day after that there was huge demonstration, in that demonstration the funniest slogan was about this comment of Azhari, People were saying: ‘AZHARI BECHARE’A INHAM NAVAR’A, NAVAR KE’A PA NADAR’A ‘ (poor Azhari is this tape as well, (referring to their huge demonstration) which tape does have a feet). In those days our main worry was a coup by the US and establishment of a military rule. We were worrying that American who are not ready to accept democracy and independence of Iran certainly are doing something, most probably are preparing themselves for a coup. So our main slogan out side of the country was: ‘Iran the next Vietnam, US get out of Iran. ‘, And in Iran slogan was ‘AZHARI BICHAREH, IRAN CHILE NAMISH’ (Poor or helpless Azhari, Iran isn’t going to become Chile).

            Now most of the government employees were on strike including workers of oil field, metal refinery, . Oil out put was not even enough for domestic consumption of people, it was very cold winter and people were queuing for oil and petrol. Oil was Shah’s nerve and perhaps American as well. We heard that in the meeting of seven largest industrial government of the world, they have decided that they are not able to keep the Shah in power any more and they have to make contacts with Khomeini and those around him to find a way to solve Iranian crises. At the same time we heard an American committee under George Ball has reached to this conclusion that Shah has no choice but resigning and leaving the monarchy to his son or a regency council.

            Shah was trying to find a suitable prime minister who could be accepted by the people and opposition and leave every thing to him and leave the country. But nobody was ready to accept premier ship any more. It was so funny and sad at the same time. The position which year before was one of the highest positions in the country and many were dying to reach to that level, by then was the last position, which any body was prepared to accept. Even nomination of Azhari by Shah, according to what he wrote later was due to the fact that “no body was ready to accept this post, even Azhari accept it as an soldier who has to obey his commander. “(Answer to history - P 262)

 

By now I was spending most of my time doing things which we felt and were told to do in support of the revolution, I was studying perhaps few hours per day to have some answer for my supervisors, Yahya in chemical Engineering department was helping me a lot to be able to work along others working on the same project. He was always advising me to spend more time for the study and less time for the ‘revolutionary action ‘ as he was calling our activities in the university. At the same time I had to spend some time as part of our course, in giving tutorial to undergraduate students in our department. For doing that as my undergraduate study was in Iran, I had to familiarise myself with Mathematics studies in Britain which although was simpler than what we had in Iran, but was different and I had to learn everything from start. For doing this I was getting some wages from department, which was very essential for us. To silence students inside and abroad Shah was helping them financially, I had a letter from my father, when I start my study in England, that he can arrange a loan from Pahlavi foundation for me while I am studying abroad. Since then I used to receive about hundred pounds each month, which financially was great help for us. It stopped during the revolution and later my father had to return them to the new ‘revolutionary foundation called ‘Alvi foundation’ that replaced the same foundation after the Revolution. As receiving this money was stopped for past few months and sometimes we were not receiving any money at all, any help even small amount of money, which I could earn by teaching, meant a lot for us. Fortunately my landlord unlike the landlord of ours in Reading was very kind and we had very good relationship. He was prepared to get his rent with one or two months delay without any complain.

            Anna and Sarvy were attending meetings and demonstrations as well Sarvy who was learning to say few words and making sentences. From attending demonstrations had learned to say ‘MARG BAR SHAH’ (death to Shah). Once our neighbour who was very kind English lady said is sad that a child in this age had learned to talk about death and asking for death of somebody. We agreed with her, but told her, “this is the reality of life in Iran and she is an Iranian as well. Soon we are going back to Iran and she has to live as an Iranian and be able to adopt herself with what is right and wrong over there, not here.”

            I could feel that I have changed as well, I was not interested in writing or taking photograph any more, we never went to the sea during those days although we were very fond of sea at any condition and any weather. I, who was very against of any cult of personality was admiring Khomeini and even his angry and serious face, strangely I put his poster in my study room. Once Sarvy came to my room when I was preparing my self to give an speech about Shari’ati, when she saw Khomeini’s poster, she mixed ‘hail to ‘ with ‘death to ‘ and said ‘Marg bar Khomeini ‘ (death to Khomeini), Unwillingly without any control I smacked her, she who was trying to please me was surprised and start to cry. She went from my room and I was wondering why did I do that?! Suddenly I became very sad and regretted, for few hours Sarvy was not ready to face me, eventually I could force her to laugh and give me a kiss.

            By now every day we were going to mosque to talk with other Moslems of our university, in our university there was an Iranian society, which was established by supporters of Tudeh party and was under their control, as during those days the only people who knew any thing about ‘organisation ‘ were supporters of Tudeh party. As a result what ever we wanted to do in the university, including arranging meetings, was through Islamic society, which was under control of Malaysian and Indonesian students. In our view (even according to the view of the most reactionary supporters of Khomeini), they were very reactionary. They were very against even translation of Koran, they were looking at this book as a miracle, not a book which they had to read and learn from it, they were only interested in how to pronounce any word, and how nice they can read it in Arabic which they didn’t know any meaning of any word of it, not even as much as we knew. They were very against of pray of Iranian female students in the University mosque. After a lot of discussion eventually they let them to pray in next room to the main room of the mosque. They were against of us to leave Khomeini’s photograph in the mosque and were saying this is ‘Shark ‘, (blasphemy). Even they were not happy about leaving any leaflet in the mosque, some times they were saying Khomeini is not a Moslem and is a communist. As we were advised by Khomeini, every day we were going to the mosque and for few hours were talking with our other ‘brother Moslem ‘. Later I found out the strong view of Indonesian against Khomeini is not pure Ideological one, but political one, they were as much as us in year before afraid of their own secret police, and Sohartoo, their president. I found few friends among them, some who were studding in dept. of Engineering Mathematics or chemical Engineering dept. They became good friend of mine. They were admiring our courage, our commitment and us. For them we were something like heroes. Once one of them told me our highest desire is to be like you, if we had fraction of your courage and our people could sacrifice fraction of what Iranian are doing we were happiest people of the world. When we were facing them and other Moslems we could feel very proud of our revolution and our leader. Soon many Moslems from different country were taking leaflets of Khomeini’s messages from us and even some of them bought his pictures and some of the translated Shari’ati’s book. When we were buying goods including ‘Halal meat ‘from Pakistani Shops, we could see their respect, some times they were refusing to accept money or were giving us goods in reduced price. Eventually we found few who were ready to attend our meetings and our demonstrations.

 

By then some of the students were going to Paris to meet Khomeini and kiss his hand, we didn’t go, as we didn’t have money for that trip. But I was not missing any of his speeches or interviews. He was talking about democracy and freedom. I loved and admired one of his speeches where he said, “Shah is saying he is going to give us freedom. Who are you to give us freedom; freedom is given to human beings by God.” When he was asked about worshipers of other religions, he said all are free to worship God in any way which they wish, I was showing that speech to my roommate and to Nasrin, Yahya’s wife. Khomeini Even said communists are free in the country as every body else to have their own political party. In one of his interviews with Netherlands Television he said: “The regime which replace Shah’s regime will be a fair regime, as fair as you can not find like that in the western democracy. It is possible that our ideal democracy is similar to western democracy, but the democracy, which we want to establish, doesn’t exist in the west. Islamic democracy is more advanced than western democracy.” (4/11/78)

            During those days we had a lot of quarrel with our communist friends over the issue of women in Islam. There were some sentences of Koran, which were very difficult to defend. The number of wives one man can have in Islam. How man can punish his wife by beating. The issue of inheritance, which women can receive only half of the men. And the value of their testimony, which again was equal to half of men. So when we heard from Khomeini that women could become president as well, it was quiet a victory for us in our discussion with communists. Although now I was full advocate of Khomeini and Mojahedin, but still I was not very comfortable with some of their actions and behaviour. When we were travelling to other cities for attending demonstrations or political meetings, in front of every body they were praying in-group in the rest areas, which was quiet, a scene for every body. Anna didn’t have Islamic dress and we could feel that in some places she was not welcomed and they were trying to avoid her. She did believe in revolution and leadership of Khomeini, but she didn’t want to change herself and lose her freedom of choice. I was in total agreement with her although I did believe that we have to respect wish and tradition of the majority but it didn’t mean that I did like or wanted to see her in Islamic dress.

            To work more efficiently Ahmad who had some connection with Members of Mojahedin in London told us that we have asked to establish the committee of supporters of Mojahedin in our city. I didn’t know much about Mojahedin and could not differentiate their behaviour with the Shari’ati ones; I knew their martyrs and like many was worshipping them. I could see all their talk are similar to Shari’ati ‘s talk, and they are supporting Khomeini vehemently. The only ideological book, which I had read from Mojahedin, was ‘Shanakht ‘ (Understanding) In that book I could see how Dialectic and Historical Dialectic has been translated into Koran’s verses. Some how by reading that book I could feel that many things, which I used to think, they are invention of Marx and Marxists are not theirs after all and Koran, and Imam Ali and Molavi (Iranian poet) have talked about them much earlier. But still I was unaware of their economical view. Once old friend of ours Behzad was for his vacation our guest. Now as it was fashion of the day every body had to call himself supporter of a political group. As a result Behzad introduced himself as supporter of Feda’ian. For the first time we, very old friend that never had any quarrel with each other start fighting on our beliefs. While neither of us knew much about what we were defending. He asked us to go to the pub for having a drink, but instead he found out that we have changed into Moslem and we are not drinking any more. On the other hand he was swearing at God and was attacking religion. As a traditional Marxist calling it opium of masses. . . . He told me one day he went to his room and with loud voice said: “there is no God “and was waiting to see if roof of the room is collapsing on his head which didn’t. Then he reached to this conclusion that all religious talks are superstitious and . . . Any way soon we found out we cannot have any conversion with each other. He told me it is good that I am going to be a supporter of Mojahedin who are very close to Feda’ian and do believe in Socialism and Communism. By then I was in favour of Democratic Socialism, but I was very against Proletariat Dictatorship, which normally was coming with the word of Communism. So I disagreed with him strongly. He told me you don’t know much about Mojahedin how do you support them?! I felt ashamed about my ignorance and lack of knowledge. So when Ahmad asked for establishment of that committee I asked him about some of the questions which I had, but soon I found my knowledge in many area is more than him. Except history of Mojahedin, which I knew a little about it, I found my knowledge about Mojahedin’s ideology, which was almost nothing, still was more than almost all supporters of Mojahedin in our city. I agreed in establishment of that committee of supporters of Mojahedin, but soon I start searching in finding as many books as I could about Mojahedin and their Ideology, among them ‘T’akamul ‘ (evolution) and ‘Rah Anbia and Rah Bashar ‘ (Path of prophets and path of human being). At the same time I felt we do need our own organisation in our university to organise our activities under the name of that organisation, so I asked few of my Indonesian and Malaysian friends along our Iranian friends, for the establishment of a new society. We called this new organisation ‘Iranian Moslem society’.

             

 

The revolution

Eventually on Jan. sixth, after hart attacks of Azhari Shah appointed Bakhtiar as new prime minister, who was the only member of the National Front ready to accept Shah’s premier ship at that juncture. Immediately it was announced that he is no longer member of the National front. When that evening I saw Baktiar’s picture under the photograph of Mossadeq instead of Shah, which was customary of those days, unwillingly I start to cry. Eventually I felt this old man, ‘Mossadeq ‘ has found his true position in Iranian history and even Shah and his government have to appreciate it. Unlike other primer, Baktiar when did visit the Shah didn’t bow and didn’t kiss his hand. For me it was another victory, at last the giant fall from his position and ‘Khodaygan ‘ (like God, one of the titles of Shah), came back to the earth. Bakhtiar abolished the SAVAK, freed the rest of political prisoners, guaranteed freedom of all political parties and papers, promised for fair and free election, and asked to go and see Khomeini. For me he was promising what ever I wanted and could dream of. I was hopping Khomeini accepts to see him. I felt in this way bloodshed can be stopped in Iran. I was accepting any number, which was given to me as the number of those who had been killed by the military, so my main worry was people who were losing their life. Still for me life of human beings was the most valuable thing, which had to be safeguarded with all, might. But soon I learned I was wrong. I never expressed my wish to other friends of mine when I found them very angry of Baktiar and swearing at him and saying he is a traitor. Mojahedin interpretation of choosing Bakhtiar as prime minister was that this is another trick of Shah and he wants to deceive people, they rejected Bakhtiar government and announced that “All those who join this administration are inferior worthless traitors, who when public movement is at highest are helping Shah to breath again . . . As a result of what they have done, right and compromising faction of the movement in disadvantage of the radical faction and all revolutionary forces has risen up and hand in hand with imperialism and regime want to make all bloods and sacrifices fruitless. “(Mojahedin - Bakhtiar p 73). As a result the new slogans of demonstrations became: ‘BAKHTIAR, NOKAR BE AKHTIAR, ‘ (Bakhtiar, a servant without any power or will,) and ‘Shah kills, Carter supports. ‘. In few days time we heard the best and happiest news of our life, as it was written in all Iranian newspaper with biggest letters ‘ Shah Raft ‘(Shah is gone) or as we could see it in the news was told by the people ‘shah farar kard ‘ (shah escaped).

 

While we were rejoicing from the news of shah’s departure from Iran, in few days time we heard about Khomeini’s return to Tehran. It was first of February, we saw it in big Television of Student Union, while there were other students from other countries, when news was broadcast, we all Iranian jumped from our chairs in jubilation. And start kissing each other. British students and others were looking at us strangely not understanding what are we happy from! Why return of an old man to Iran should make us so happy?! We could see millions of people gathering to welcome him; we were worried at the same time if any thing happens to him. Later we found out that Behashti and others didn’t accept Mojahedin to take responsibility in safeguarding of Khomeini, this news made us a bite sad, but extend of the jubilation was as much as nothing could destroy it. Not even this comment of a journalist, which said: when he asked Khomeini about his feeling after seeing his people and country, after fifteen years, he replied “nothing!”

 

In few days time Khomeini appointed Bazargan as Prime minister to head provisional government. It was another jubilation and good news for us. But with appointment of Bazargan the difference of Idea between Pro Feda’ian supporters, and us Parviz and Mino and others grow very fast. One day in our house they were insulting Bazargan so strongly which I lost my politeness and calm and asked them not to talk like that any more in front of me, as I am not going to tolerate it any more. I believed we have to give our full support to Bazargan to overthrow the regime and solve problems, which we were going to face. Still we were worried a lot what American might do? But it seemed Hayzer was in Iran to persuade Iranian Generals not to prepare themselves for any kind of coup against revolutionary government which was due to be in power very soon. Now we were able to see some army personnel who were going to see Khomeini and giving their support to him among them first young Homafars (junior air force personnel). During those days I don’t remember we ever were doing any thing else except listening to the different radio, reading different papers, watching Television’s news. Talking with our Iranian friend and other Moslems in the Mosque. Now even supporters of Tudeh party changed into supporters of the revolution and were trying to be friend with us. They were distributing leaflet of Khomeini’s speech, sticking his photographs here and there; and joining us in our meetings and demonstrations. Seven, eight and ninth of Feb., we were not ready to do any thing, even breathing was difficult for us we heard about soldiers of ‘Sepah Javidan ‘(special arm force of Shah) who wanted to attack Dosh Tappeh air base near Tehran, but were facing resistance from air force personnel. We heard Mojahedin and Feda’ian have captured different brakes; people are armed to defend the revolution. Eventually we heard that commander of joint arm forces had announced its neutrality among two different government ruling in Iran one appointed by the Shah, and another by Khomeini. The result was clear revolution was the winner. Bakhtiar like Shah preferred to leave the country and Bazargan became the sole prime minister of the country. The Revolution was won. In the middle of the university and in front of the Student Union we were dancing and laughing and kissing each other. I could see from our happiness any body was passing from there, unconsciously was laughing and showing happy face, which was with them for sometimes. We felt tyranny is gone and freedom has come. Soon we found out how wrong we were! The ‘destiny’ had another kind of ‘story of life’ hidden behind that short live joy of us, not only for our generation, but also for many more to come. Perhaps not only for us as Iranian, but also for many more people around the world.

 

Photos of the chapter  Back to the top

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My father Anna and I in our engagement parti

 


 

با تشكر از شما بخاطر ورود به این وب سایت  در معرفی آن باید بگویم که آنرا به تشویق دوستانم با اهداف و ملاحظات زیر طراحی و ایجاد کردم:

  • با توجه به چاپ خلاصه خاطرات زندگیم به انگلیسی  و ترجمه آن به فارسی اینجا محلی است برای مشتافان تا اصل آنرا ملاحظه نمایند.

  • از آنجا که کتاب تنها داستان زندگی من بدون جهت گیری و نتیجه گیری خاص و جامع سیاسی و فلسفی است. اینجا محلی است جهت پاسخ به سئوالات و بیان نقطه نظرات من.

  •  امیدوارم در آینده این سایت محل برخورد آرا و عقاید افرادی شود که انسانها را سیاه و سفید ندیده و طرفدار تحمل پذیری میباشند. همچنین محلی برای ارائه آرا و عقاید دوستداران و کاوشگران فهم آزادی و دموکراسی در ایران و اسلام شود.

  • در این وب سایت و در مقالات نوشته شده بوسیله من، از بکار گیری وذکر القاب، تیتر و عنوان افراد که میتواند بکارگیری آنها حمل بر تأئید و عدم بکارگیریشان حمل بر رد و مخالفت با آنها شود معذورم مگر در مواردی که عنوان بخشی از نام فرد شده مثل "ستار خان" و یا " باقر خان" و یا "ملا صدرا" و..

  • در فاکت آوری از دیگران و در مقالات ارائه شده توسط دیگران کلمات و صفات توهین آمیز حذف میگردد.

  • استفاده از مطالب اين وب سايت با ذکر ماخذ و نام وب سايت بلامانع است.


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