Spared

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By Nastaran Akhavan A MEMOIR

A true story of, courage, struggle, healing, and connecting with god.

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Iran’s Map ........................................................................................... 7 ............................................................................................................ 8 Introduction........................................................................................ 18 CHAPTER ONE................................................................................ 28 Neglected Childhood......................................................................... 28 Early years........................................................................................ 30 Divorce.............................................................................................. 37 Meeting my step father...................................................................... 48 Abandoned years.............................................................................. 60
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Sanandaj........................................................................................... 95 CHAPTER TWO.............................................................................. 101 Calm before storm........................................................................... 101 Farhad............................................................................................. 121 Martial Law (Sep 1978)................................................................... 179 CHAPTER THREE.......................................................................... 241 Black Friday (Sep 8, 1978).............................................................. 241 Zhaleh Square................................................................................. 243 Finding my way back home. (Sep 8, 1978)..................................... 363 Home again..................................................................................... 505 CHAPTER FOUR............................................................................ 586
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Never to return years (Nov 17, 1978).............................................. 586 Good bye Tehran........................................................................... 588 Reference........................................................................................ 599 People............................................................................................. 599 Places.............................................................................................. 603 Farsi Words..................................................................................... 607 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.................................................................. 610 EPILOGUE...................................................................................... 616 About the Author............................................................................. 624

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Location of Iran on the world Map.

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and involvement in the event of Black Friday that took place on 9/8/1978 as I remember it.Spared PREFACE The purpose of writing this book is not intended to be the history of Iranian revolution or Iran’s history in general. and undeniable testament to the power of surrendering to god. but the names of the characters other than Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 13 . This is a story of true struggle and courage. This story is true in content. and without any judgment. It is merely to put in words my own history. recollection.

It took a lot of encouragement from many different people to be able to finally put words on paper about the massacre that happened on Black Friday. including 3 years of intensive therapy with one of the world’s greatest therapist. or the Islamic republic of Iran. demean. It took me another 30 years to get the courage to write about it. insult or promote the Pahlavi dynasty. Mili Naugle MFT. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 14 . It took me 30 years to finally write this book.Spared me have been changed to protect their identity from any discrimination and prejudice. It is not the intention of the author to condone.

all events are blessings given to us to learn from. I am the only survivor. There are no mistakes. no coincidences.” I have no doubt.Spared I strongly feel that it was god’s will to have me there in the first place to experience what I needed. I feel the responsibility as well as the compassion to be the voice of approximately 8000 innocent Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 15 . As far as I know. to become the person I am today. As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross puts in to perspective “Know that everything in life has purpose. They certainly did not have a chance to tell their tale and their side of the story. god spared me from certain death so one day I can be the voice of the victims who lost their lives in the Black Friday massacre.

San Diego California Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 16 . -Nastaran Akhavan. I also deeply hope that upon reading my story. Many of the families were never informed about what happened to their loved ones or their whereabouts. Most of the families still don’t know where their loved ones are buried due to the fact that many of them were buried in mass graves. perhaps the families will have the closure they so desperately need and help answer the questions they may have had. The families of the victims also never had the chance to say goodbye.Spared people who died that day.

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As I was being dragged backwards. Both my wrists were squeezed together into one handcuff behind my back as the soldier used the other end of the handcuff to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 18 . I could hear the gravel grind together underneath me and feel the pain of my skin being ripped off as the soldier easily dragged my tiny body behind him. I could see the silhouettes of several soldiers around me.Spared Introduction As I adjusted my eyes going from absolute darkness to the bright lighted street corner.

Ah what a relief that my arms are not being Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 19 . I feared both my shoulders and arms would break very soon if the soldier does not let up. so you can scream but you can’t talk? I see what kind of game you are playing”. The soldier stopped at a light post. taking my breath away. I let out a scream from the bottom of my lungs from the pain in both of my shoulders. I was crying and coughing uncontrollably but couldn’t get any words out of my mouth. and he said “Oh. turned around and kicked me really hard in my ribs. grabbed me by my hair and stood me up.Spared drag me along the gravel road. As the soldier continued to drag me to what seemed like an eternity. The soldier stopped. and tied me to the light post.

Spared stretched backwards anymore. Not a residential street but a street full of shops. and sad that this time may be my last. tied to the same light pole I am tied to. watery eyes that I was at the end of a street. and suddenly the gravity of the situation weighed heavily on my mind. I have walked in front of these stores many times to get to school every day. I could see thru my swollen. As I looked around I saw large amounts of fresh blood on the ground. I would take the pain of beatings and hair pulling over that anytime. because I knew that they must have killed someone in that very spot just earlier. and I was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 20 . stores. and offices. My level of fear went up another gear when I saw the fresh blood.

as if looking at a hunted animal. and I am hyperventilating and crying. Like a flash they all walked back and lined up in front of me with their rifles pointing right at me with such precision that you could tell they had done many times before. I could feel the end was coming soon. and my heart is beating so fast that it makes breathing difficult. I felt my stomach tie up into a knot as I got physically ill. this is it. and this is where I will be executed. The gravity of what will be happening hits me. Ten to fifteen soldiers swarmed around me staring at me.Spared next. How can this be happening? My tears are pouring down. I was cold and shivering and my teeth are Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 21 . I tried hard to hold myself back from throwing up.

The countdown starts.get set…… “I can hear all the rifles being cocked and the noise echoing in my ears. how sad she will be to find out I was executed. it just didn’t make any sense.Spared chattering. and it snaps me back to reality. so why am I being executed. I always thought execution was for murderers. As my impending death nears. a feeling of calmness came over me. I was not worried about me or my death. I close my eyes and brace myself for the moment of impact. I can hear the voice of an authoritative and powerful man outside the firing squad telling his men: “Get ready…. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 22 . or criminals. revolutionaries. all I could think about was my mother.

First I was so happy the nightmare was over. only a twisted Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 23 .Spared Fire………… Suddenly I woke up drenched in sweat from head to toe. How would I ever heal or forget about what had happened to me on September 8th. I realize once again. that I was having another terrible nightmare. When will I ever stop having these flashbacks. another night terror. and found myself in the fetal position under my living room table in my house. but I slowly realized that it was not a nightmare. 1978 that has come to be known as “Black Friday”.

Very confused about what I was doing under the table. as I ran aimlessly thru the house reliving the dark forgotten memories I was now remembering. September 8 1978. The memories of that dark and bloody day. with all the ugly details of my past. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 24 . Night after night I found myself having night mares about running and hiding from soldiers. or Black Friday. My memory was finally coming back to me.Spared recollection of the intense terror I had hidden and put away in the dark corners of my consciousness to protect myself from the cruel and disabling truth I had lived thru. I had numerous bruises and cuts from running in to the walls and furniture. I crawled out and walked back to my bed.

Before that day. but never in such graphic details. and I could never make out how I made it home or how I survived.Spared were all coming back to me. and vivid colors. who also happened to be a Marriage/Family Therapist or an MFT. Mili Naugle. My memory had a lot of holes in it. I had a general idea of what had happened. She is one of the kindest people I have ever Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 25 . to help me recover all my memories of that dark day. My brain had done a very good job of blocking them for 30 years to protect me from these terrorizing and scarring details. She was and still is a beautiful middle aged lady from India. I know I had asked for it when I asked for help from my counselor/spiritual mentor/best friend.

She saved my life. spirituality thru meditation. She always told me that god would not give you more than you can handle. and very connected to god. and nursed all my emotional and psychological wounds. with the help of Mili. my full memory of Black Friday came to me thru many night terrors. surrendering to god. She helped me to remember them thru meditation. I insisted and begged her to help me. She warned me that there was a good reason why I blocked the memories of them. So Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 26 . and tried to convince her I am ready and I want to know every detail. She is selfless. and perhaps it is best if I don’t remember.Spared known. Within a month or so. giving. and allowing myself to regain those memories.

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 27 .Spared surrender yourself and if you are truly ready you will remember them. I finally learned why I was spared. After 30 years and months of therapy and meditation.

Spared CHAPTER ONE Neglected Childhood Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 28 .

Spared “Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross quote Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 29 .

not even my birth. I was born in Iran. Nothing about my life was ever ordinary. Our home was a very beautiful and large house that my dad built from the ground up. Tehran in my own home. some small and some very large. Even to Iranian culture standards.Spared Early years I always wondered why I have lived such a different life from anyone else I know. The yard Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 30 . All single family homes in Iran had balconies. It was a 2 story home with the largest balcony in the neighborhood.

My mom’s name was Mehri. My father’s name was Javid. called Gorgan. Tehran is the capital of Iran. Kashan is famous for their beautiful Persian rugs. and had a son from that marriage. and he was from a city called Kashan which is located in the center of Iran. She was used and abused like a slave. Her son was ripped away from her Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 31 . a beautiful town with a lot of modernization. but still keeps its unique Middle Eastern charm. and forced to do heavy hard labor dawn till dusk. a basement.Spared was filled with fruit and flowering trees. My mother was married away to a peasant farmer at the age of 13 against her will. and she was from a city in the North of Iran close the Caspian Sea. and a small shallow pool.

His specialty was buildings. My mom and dad met in Babolsar which was also a city by the Caspian Sea where my father was on a work assignment as a civil engineer building the tunnel that went thru the Alborz Mountain. and wanted Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 32 . Her step father was not happy about having my mother back living in his house again. and roads. She eventually escaped and never returned to the family. My mom’s family had moved to Babolsar after she ran away from her ex-husband.Spared and raised by the mother-in-law. tunnels. She reunited with her son later in life but not until he was a teenager. My mom and dad were married the arranged marriage way. due to the shame it created for her family.

At the time of marriage my mom was only 16 and my father was 48. and married off again. It was not unusual for a man to be 15-20 years older than a woman at the time of marriage. They lived in Babolsar for a year before they decided to move back to Tehran and settle down.Spared her out of his house. My father was 32 years older than my mother. and surprisingly the age difference was not considered a problem. My father bought a large piece of land from my uncle who was a real estate Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 33 . My father preferred to live in a small town like Babolsar. but my mom was very anxious to see what it was like to live in the capital. but 32 years age difference was excessive even to Iran’s standards in 1950’s.

other than my uncle’s mansion. and it became a populated part of town. Being a civil engineer. I was born in 1961.Spared tycoon. Soon after moving to the house my mom got pregnant. the same year Kennedy became president in United States. but was ok with having a daughter as long as he gets his son next time around. he designed the house himself. At the time he built that house. but soon after that the neighborhood grew. my mom got pregnant again. and built a house on top of it from the ground up. there were barely any other homes around. and gave birth to my sister Neda in 1959. My father had his heart set on a son. 2 years after Neda’s birth. My birth was premature and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 34 .

As a result. or washing clothes.Spared unexpected when my mother just turned 7 months pregnant and delivered me in our home without any help. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 35 . to give mom a break. and hemorrhaging complications and I was being fed cow’s milk. to make extra money. My mom never lactated due to premature delivery. It was very common for Gypsy’s to come thru the town. my mother hemorrhaged heavily. would offer to breast feed other people’s babies as well for a small amount of money. At times I was fed by the gypsy’s who would come thru our neighborhood. Especially if there was a Gypsy who was breast feeding her own baby. and I never spent a day in an incubator. and take odd jobs such as cleaning.

to get what the work they want.Spared or if mom was too ill or tired to breast feed her own baby. I wonder at times if having had so many Gypsy women’s breast milk. helped shaped my personality or thoughts. to breast feed me. Ironically I have always been fascinated and attracted to long gypsy skirts. If there was a nursing gypsy available. and chandelier gypsy earrings! Most Halloween’s my costume is be a gypsy! Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 36 . otherwise cow’s milk had to do. or directions in life. I would be breast fed. I was breast fed by 2 dozen Gypsy women approximately. My mom hired nursing Gypsy’s as many times as she could afford. By word of mouth they knew very quickly which doors to knock on.

my father left town in anger and resentment of not Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 37 .Spared Divorce After discovering that my mother gave birth to another girl.

Iran was a male dominated society as was the rest of Middle East.Spared getting a son he wished for. My father was married once before to a German woman. and had a son. and some families really believed that it had to do with the woman’s genes that determined if she can produce male infants. In those days it was common belief that some women are capable of having boys. leaving my dad with strong yearning to have another son. If that tendency was demonstrated by her family Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 38 . They both died in a tragic car accident. and can only produce girls. while other women were unfortunate in that aspect. It was of extreme importance that a man has a son to carry and restore the family’s name.

if she could not give him a son. meaning if women in a given family have had higher number of boy to girl ratio. Farah Diba.Spared history. who was a stunningly beautiful Egyptian princess. He eventually divorced her and married his second wife. divorced his first wife Fawzia. and status was not enough to save the marriage. Mohammad Reza Shah. then that girl was a lucky girl and presumed to be a good wife to obtain. Even the king of Iran. and number one cause for divorce. All of her beauty. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 39 . who gave him 2 sons and 3 daughters. because she failed to give him a son. and unforgiven offense for a woman to not be able to produce a male offspring. This was a big deal. love. a Persian woman.

and provide food for us. Her name was Fatemeh. fair. and attended the religious Hajj ceremonies”. and no one to help her. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 40 . and a kind hearted mother in law. Just imagine my mother going thru all this with no money. which means “the woman who had visited Mecca.Spared My father left without a trace and never told anyone where he was going and how long he will be gone. 6 months after my father left my mother ran out of money. which is the holiest meeting sites for Moslems. to help raise small amount of money to pay the Gypsy’s. She had sold all her jewelry. She finally broke down and went to see my paternal grandmother who was very well to do. but we called her Khanoom Hajieh.

At age 90 she moved in with my uncle who was the oldest of 3 sons. when she could no longer care for herself. They were able to locate my father in another town called Shiraz.Spared Khanoom Hajieh knew what it was like to raise children without a father. She raised 3 sons on her own. But she also had very supportive family who helped her out. and the color was a dark shade of purple. She hired a troop of men to find my father and bring him back. She was pregnant with her 3rd child. when her husband passed away unexpectedly. my father. I had never seen eye color like hers in anyone else. in the south of Iran. I remember she had the most beautiful eyes. and brought Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 41 . doing odd but respectable jobs.

He claimed that he could not emotionally deal with yet another daughter.Spared him back to Tehran. He claimed he was stressed and had to go on a vacation. and he had his heart set to have a boy. Shiraz by the way is the city where the “Shiraz Wine” was named after. Although my grandmother pulled him to the side and gave him a lecture for his irresponsible Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 42 . and he minded his mother very much. but he could not fool khanoom Hajieh. My father was not very happy about being back. He complained that it was entirely my mother’s fault for having another girl. but had no choice since he knew the one behind this mission impossible operation was his own mother.

but when it came to me. he would not even acknowledge he had another Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 43 . and basically pretended like I didn’t exist. and asking us to forgive him. My father didn’t act like he was asking for forgiveness though. but at the same time he refused to accept me as his daughter. My father stayed with us for the next 10 years. in the same token she made excuses for him.Spared choices. He could not run away anymore. and as a consequence he never learned how to act like a father. He was loving and supportive with my sister Neda. as a matter of fact he had a chip on his shoulders. She claimed Javid lost his father when she was still pregnant with my dad. and resentful for being dragged back against his will.

he said hello to everyone but me. or loved by him. so I won’t be a beneficiary to inheritance. On occasions he would hug and hold Neda or engage in activities with her. me! When he would come back from work. hugged. He had to go thru extraordinary measures to get rid of my name out of his Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 44 . but not for me. In Iran children’s names are hand written in both parents birth certificates. and neglecting me was his way of protesting my existence. He would buy toys for Neda.Spared daughter. I discovered he had taken my name out of his birth certificate. but I don’t ever remember being held. pretending as if I was not his daughter. I suppose he felt like he got stuck with a daughter he didn’t ask for. Even when he died.

and I didn’t exist in his world. it was proof to me that once again that he didn’t have any love for me. Before that. and claimed he lost it so he can have a new one issued without my name in it. I was always told by my grandmother. It was very heart breaking. and my mom that he loved me in his own way.Spared birth certificate. I was merely an unwelcomed. unwanted stranger in his world. She made sure she Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 45 . but after seeing that my name didn’t exist in his birth certificate. but he is incapable of showing his love to me. He must have wanted to disown me so much that he was willing to do that. My mother on the other hand took a different approach. but unfortunately what I ended up learning was that I am not love worthy.

Spared gave me enough love and attention to make up for the loss of my father’s love. constant high pitched brain piercing screams. Even though I got plenty of love from my mom. and unruliness. Neda’s punishment was borderline physical abuse. I was never spanked or disciplined. Naturally Neda was always daddy’s girl. and I gravitated toward my mom and relied on her to get attention and affection. but Neda was spanked on regular basis by my mother. still that didn’t take place of a father’s love. because she was a hard to manage child. I remember Neda’s temper tantrums. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 46 . and there is no justification for that.

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when it came to us. or pay for a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 48 . giving to poor people. refrigerators. he always had an excuse for not giving us any money for food.Spared Meeting my step father. clothes. my dad had been having numerous affairs. buying them televisions. however. or school supplies. Strangely he was known to be a kind hearted giving man in the community. spending large amounts of money for these women. During the time my mom and dad were married.

so he can live and work where he wants out of Tehran. and he wants to be free again. After being married for about 10 yrs. He also claimed that he resents that. My father Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 49 . and he wanted to be free. I remember my mom sewing and repairing holes in our clothes. when it came to his own family. away from city pressures. he wanted to live in a small town. He claimed that when he got married to my mother. However. and constantly arguing with my father about why he does not take care of his own family first. but my mom insisted that they move to Tehran. his charity was nonexistent.Spared whole wedding when the family was unable to do so. my father decided he no longer wanted to be a married man.

but eventually realized that he is serious. after spending 10 of the best years of her life with my father. Devastated. He told my mother to go and find yourself another husband. This was a very uncommon practice in Iran. and she better find another husband. my mother tried and tried to change his mind. as a man’s family is dearest to him. and begged him not to break the marriage. and family always stays together.Spared was also felt embarrassed and awkward as people would often mistake him to be Mehri’s father instead of being her husband. She felt like she was being thrown away like trash. She felt like she Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 50 . and I will let you stay in my house until you have found someone else. and divorce is never an option.

penny pinching behavior.Spared endured his bad temper. in 1960’s only a small percentage of women had finished high school. as her education was limited to 9th grade. In 1969. She was understandably bitter and resentful. Although today in Iran approximately 40% of women are educated beyond high school. let alone twice. Persian women did not typically have a profession or education to be able to support themselves. My Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 51 . Those women typically came from wealthy families. and giving him 2 children was all for nothing. womanizing ways. and having a husband was absolutely necessary for financial survival. This would be her 2nd divorce. and in Iran it was taboo to be divorced once. My mother was no exception.

had five children of his own. Taher had a daughter named Shirin. she had badly fractured leg which didn’t grow to be the same size as her other leg. and not able to support my mother as well.Spared mother came from a very poor and abusive family. who married her off to my father because he came from a prominent wealthy family. As she grew it was obvious that the problem of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 52 . but he was struggling financially as well. who was brain damaged and disfigured due to a motor cycle accident before she was born when she was still in the womb. without any regards to the fact that he was 32 yrs older than her. My mother had a brother named Taher. As a result.

Taher asked my mother to help find a doctor who can do this surgery. After meeting him and having an evaluation. With that in mind my mom made an appointment with a surgeon who was popular to be the best in that specialty. who eventually became my stepfather. He was concerned about the cost of surgery.Spared having a short leg and having corrective surgery is becoming an absolute necessity. and was hoping to find a doctor who will work with them to come up with a way to pay for it such as financing. and he Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 53 . It was there when my mother met the surgeon. and it was love at first sight for both of them. My mother was young and very beautiful. the orthopedic surgeon agreed to perform the surgery for her.

as well as a Lieutenant General under Shah’s Army when they got married. We had to call him Mr. By the time he retired he was a general in Shah’s Army. who was an orthopedic specialist and surgeon. Aram Noori. He had many women after him.Spared was very handsome. successful and a gentleman himself. a popular gynecologist. Soon after meeting they ended up getting married against all odds and disapprovals. educated. My step father’s name was Dr. He was married to a woman who was a colleague. She led him to believe that he fathered the 2 daughters they had during a 9 years of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 54 . to be respectful. and was newly divorced. Doctor.

Selfish or not.’s father. Dr. Afshin had done an operation to remove a benign tumor from his testicles. and the rest of the family was lead to believe that the operation did not alter his fertility. a balding. the truth became clear to Mr. Dr. Soon after the girls started school. Dr. The truth was that Mr.’s father the truth. this was a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 55 . Mr. His name was Dr. will never be able to have children of his own. short statured doctor in his 80’s who was retired already. was told as a child that Dr. Afshin. This information was only shared with Mr. Dr. jolly. that he is not their biological father. Dr. He found that out by running in to an old friend of the family who was also the family doctor.Spared marriage. Dr. Afshin only told Mr.

So when Mr. he finally told him the truth about the operation he had. the doctor will only share that with the family and leaves it up to them to either share it with the patient or not. in order to “save him/her from unnecessary grief”. he was to tell Mr. Afshin also told him that per the conversation he had with Mr. and discovered that Mr. ran in to Dr. For example if a patient is diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Dr. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 56 . Afshin almost 40 years later. Dr. is married with children. and told him in no uncertain terms that he is indeed sterile.’s father. Dr.Spared very common practice in Iran to hide information from the patient. The whole family will usually hide the bad news from the patient and everyone else would keep it a secret.

he divorced his wife. his ex-wife moved Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 57 . and could not divorce them.Spared Dr. Just to be certain. After all he had raised them for over 9 years. and discovered that not only that he is not their biological father. However his father passed away unexpectedly at a young age unable to tell him the truth. even though he was not their true father. Mr. Dr. Betrayed and heartbroken. the truth about being sterile when he was ready to choose a wife. but maintained his fatherhood to the girls. Soon after the divorce. did a paternity test for both children. he also learned that they each have different fathers. After all It was not the children’s fault to suffer the consequence of their mother’s actions.

In Iran. in early 1970’s. but he maintained his connection with daughters thru letters and occasional phone calls. They were faced with much Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 58 . was planning to get married to a woman who has already been married and has two children. To make matters more complicated. it was even more shocking when such a socially prominent man such as my stepfather. Women lived in a Hippocratic society. it was highly unusual for a woman with 2 small children to get married again. Divorced single moms were known to be “second hand” or another man’s reject or left over. there was not one attached to a man. as there was a stigma attached to a woman who was divorced.Spared to France.

Javid. She remained loyal to our biological father. This was true even though Javid never chose to stick around. most kindhearted. and did not contribute much to our care. was not able to have any children of his own. However. and refused to replace him with any other man. selfless and loving human being I have ever known and he became the best father figure a girl could ever have. He was the gentlest. Dr.Spared disapproval and social objection but they were in love and nothing else mattered. education or anything else. Since Mr. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 59 . Neda didn’t feel the same. having 2 step children was a welcomed and pleasant situation for him.

Mr. and left us in the care of our father who had assumed custody of us. things changed drastically. which is located in the North East of Iran. my father Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 60 . With that task she left Tehran. She felt she had to establish and nurture the new marriage. Dr. After they left. received orders to move to another town called Sanandaj. bordering Iraq.Spared Abandoned years After my parents were divorced and my mother remarried. After getting married. My mom found herself in a bad situation.

In order to do that he had to find someone to help take care of us. and I was so happy to find an instant best friend who lived Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 61 . after divorcing her abusive husband. She had a daughter named Sayareh who was 9 years old when she came to live with us. She was a very delightful. homes. and other buildings. mosques. while he followed his dreams. to be free. She came from a remote village. Sharifeh was a middle aged woman was hired to take care of Neda and I while my father stayed out of town for long periods of time.Spared left town and took an assignment which required him to travel and build schools. and energetic girl. happy. This was basically what my father wanted. and work out of Tehran.

A woman never talked back to her husband. ordered Sharifeh she must deliver a son for him or else he will be left with no choice but to let it starve to death. Sharifeh first child was a daughter and although Sayareh’s father was not very happy about that but told her that he is willing to forgive her only once. she was prohibited to breastfeed Sayareh until she died. Sayareh’s father.Spared with us. Faced with this cruel and inhumane behavior on her husband’s part. and having no voice. When Sharifeh delivered a baby girl. This was something that was unheard of in her village. who was a typical uneducated farmer. Sharifeh made a decision to leave her husband and come to Tehran for work. and definitely not Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 62 .

She left him taking nothing other than her daughter. She became a nanny for several different families before working for us. she came to Tehran. I felt like she was rejected by her father like I was and we had so much in common.Spared allowed to have a divorce unless her husband would agree to it. She eventually obtained her divorce. mostly because her husband wanted to remarry. Sayareh and I ended up having a very sister like bond between us. and for challenging her husband’s authority. regardless of all the discriminating judgments from her community. Although we respected Sharifeh for her courageous acts of saving her Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 63 . Divorce was entirely a privilege for men and men only.

Spared daughter’s life. butcher. Qom is located 97 miles South West of Tehran and considered to be the largest center for Shi-a Muslims. and we would be left alone as well. At times she would go back to her home town to visit with her other daughter. dry cleaner. Soon rumors of her careless affairs were circulating the neighborhood and she was forced to continue her affairs out of town in a city called Qom. milk man. Sharifeh would be gone Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 64 . which is ironically a holy city. we soon realized that she was very preoccupied with her own wants and needs. and the produce man. She soon had several affairs with the local grocer. mail man.

fearing the shadows and sounds and crying ourselves to sleep was a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 65 . It was some of the most frightening memories I have. At the time we were abandoned. It was bad enough to suddenly lose both your mother and father. protection and care. we were helpless little kids who desperately needed guidance. Neda was 10. now we were forced to face the world alone with no one to care for us. Sayareh was 9. Abandoned and left to fend for ourselves. leaving Sayareh behind as well. With Sharifeh. our father and mother being gone.Spared anywhere from few days to few months at a time. Being frightened at night. and I was 8. we were literally and completely abandoned.

. I took it upon myself to be the cook and prepare the only foods we had left which was a bag of potatoes. we suffered with hunger as a consequence. Hunger was eventually added to the list of miseries as we had nothing but bread crumbs to eat. I am not sure if Sharifeh miscalculated the amount of food we needed until she got back or if she just didn’t care but either way. We also had a few egg laying chickens that Sharifeh brought from one of her travels to her town and they provided us with Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 66 . We had no money to buy food and even if we did.Spared nightly occurrence. we didn’t know how to cook or even turn the stove on. and a bag of rice that was in our basement which had become infested by worms and cockroach eggs.

hunger. It was definitely better to live with abandonment. At least we had our freedom. and cold.Spared some eggs. mentally and physically challenged children and we had heard horror stories of how bad they are treated. I was experimenting with cooking and eventually learned to be a great cook even with the limited amount of resources I had. We made sure we woke ourselves up to go to school because we were in fear of being reported to the authorities and having to go to an orphanage. we would Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 67 . When we would be asked by school teachers why we looked so disheveled. Orphanages in Iran were overfilled with unwanted. than it was to be left in an orphanage getting abused.

Sharifeh came and went and she would be gone from 2 to 3 days to several months and was totally unaffected by our pleas.Spared make all kinds of excuses and claim mom has not been feeling good. and called us ungrateful. We begged her to please don’t leave us. We would throw all the clothes in to the bath tub and try to stomp on them until they were cleaned. We learned very early in life that we had to be our own parents and we were forced to grow up fast. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 68 . and then hung them over the terrace lines to dry. With no washing machine we had to hand wash everything. and promise it will never happen again. but she didn’t care.

Spared Soon winter arrived and brought punishing and brutal cold with it. While all the neighborhood kids jump up and down at the first sign of new snow. but no money to buy petroleum to put in it. As majestic as snow is. to us it was reminders of more pain to come. Tehran is situated at 4000 feet elevation surrounded by mountains and winters are very unforgiving. we would all try to get under the same blanket using our body heat to get thru freezing cold nights. We were teased at school for wearing the same clothes and shoes we wore the year before and naturally Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 69 . we would be sorrow stricken and fearing the subzero cold at night. We had a portable gas burning heater. To remedy the situation.

Spared they didn’t fit anymore. as we had a long way to walk to school. I remember being laughed at school for the ridiculous clothes I wore that looked 3 sizes too small. but we had no choice. Unfortunately there was no Child Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 70 . I painfully remember when we had to walk all the way to school in snow as high as our knees in old boots with holes in the soles. Our preparation for school usually started at 4:30 am. Every few blocks I had to stop and squeeze the freezing water out of them just to be able to make it to school. Every once in a while Sharifeh would come back home and grocery shop and leave again. All of us were deeply depressed and tried several unsuccessful suicide attempts in cry for help.

Despite all the begging and pleading to our father about our situation. and liars. He was very defensive whenever we talked about being abandoned and did not allow any questions or discussions regarding that. He could not see why we would complain when he has hired a nanny to care for us.Spared Protective Services or any similar organizations to help us out. My father visited every 6 months or so and only stayed for a few days. She would suddenly Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 71 . he would take her side. telling him to help us because Sharifeh is never around. trouble makers. and consequently call us big babies. Sharifeh somehow always knew when my father would show up.

on the phone. asleep.Spared appear from where ever she was and make it look like she has always been there. In Tehran neighbors were very noisy typically and everyone knew everybody else’s business. ill. We had practiced every possible scenario and prepared stories to tell when one of them would show up knocking at our door asking to speak to our father or Sharifeh. they knew the truth was that we Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 72 . in the shower. Even though we lied and told them that my father or Sharifeh was busy. Unlike my father. acting like she was the best caregiver and nanny to us. and unavailable. it was very difficult to fool our neighbors and they were the testament to the fact that we were abandoned.

My mother and Mr. Unfortunately it always seemed like my father would visit right after that. There were a few neighbors who actually cared and would send a hot dish every once in a while in an effort to help. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 73 . take it with him and leave town again without any caring that his children will go hungry. Oh we so appreciated a hot meal as it filled our hearts and stomach at the same time making us rest assure we don’t have to go to bed hungry one more day. visited 2 or 3 times during our abandoned years and would fill up our pantry and fridge with enough food to last us for a while. empty out all the fresh and pantry food. Dr.Spared were left without supervision.

Dr. girls 7 and older. or else I was going to die. Every time I got sick the neighbors notified my mother to come back to Tehran. belonged to the father after a divorce. but her heartbreaking answer was always no. It always seemed to me that we were the left over from a family that once existed. I caught every childhood disease during those years. just to be mean and difficult. Mr. I know for a fact that my father would not allow that. rushed back with my mom and cared for me once with Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 74 . In Iran. and boys 2 and over. an unwanted quandary no one wanted to deal with.Spared Every time my mom visited I would beg her to take me with her.

We did whatever we felt like doing and go where ever we felt like. He could not fathom how a man would care so little for his own flesh and blood. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 75 . Dr. each time they stayed in town until I was strong enough to go back to school. Each time as usual they would fill our pantry and fridge with food in hope that we would benefit from it rather than my father. Each time Mr. By the end of abandoned years we grew very independent and we were in a way. and another time with Influenza B.Spared Diphtheria. even if it meant going out of town on a bus to see my grandmother by the Caspian Sea. would voice his disgust and discontent with the way my father abandoned us. happy to be left alone and self sufficient.

Our friends would envy us for all the freedom we had. As strange as it may seem. Naturally I was elated and felt like life cannot get any better. we had lived this unusual and cruel life style for so long that it finally became the norm and it would not bother us anymore. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 76 . or adapted any self destructive or addictive behaviors. moved back to live in Tehran again from their 2 year long military transfer to Sanandaj. Dr. but we still missed having a mom or a dad who would come home at night and pay attention to our needs. Filled with feelings of resentment and bitterness.Spared Somehow we had a great moral compass and never got ourselves in any wrong or serious situations. In 1972 my mom and Mr.

and didn’t blame our mom for the abandonment and could see how our mom had no choice but to get remarried. but soon it was obvious that Neda had already decided she was not going to forgive or understand. Even if she wanted to take us. My mom and Neda would get in to numerous arguments. she held my mom responsible for being abandoned for 2 years. my father would not allow it. I certainly agreed that my mother fitting in Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 77 . Dr.Spared Neda resisted having a relationship with our mom or Mr. In Neda’s mind. and had to establish herself in her new family before we could be a part of it. Somehow I didn’t see things in that light. Neda tried in the beginning to come over to our Mom’s house.

My mom tried to make up for all the neglect and was extra loving and giving. announcing he no longer wants to be married and insisted he wants custody of us. Neda chose to stay at our dad’s house. even if it meant continued abandonment. and then turned around and abandoned us.Spared to a new family came at a high cost to her and to us. but unfortunately Neda declined to receive it and eventually missed out on it. I felt like our father was the one who initiated the divorce. As a result I ended up going to my mom’s house every other day and enjoyed being pampered by them immensely. I felt so sorry for Neda because she Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 78 . but nevertheless it had to take place. loneliness. and depression.

but also a very caring and loving father figure. was not only the kindest. and what dreams you have?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 79 . He cared about me and asked about my plans for the future and actually asked me something no one else had asked before.Spared wanted to be pampered just like I was. most generous man and a humanitarian I have ever met. I learned that Mr. “Do you know what your passion for life is. but was helpless as Neda didn’t want any part of it. He wasn’t the most verbal man with his emotions but he managed to show me love thru his actions and kind gestures. Dr.

he would be proud to take you under his wings and nurture you as a student.Spared Frozen with amazement. He made kind remarks about my drawings and once told me. he taught me that I mattered.” He taught me a lot of valuable lessons. I always thought only men can have ambitions. I had never imagined that I can have dreams too. just like a man. but more important than anything. let alone what dreams I had. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 80 . something that I didn’t know until then. I certainly never even heard my father being interested in how my day was. “If Picasso was alive. plans and dreams for their future. not women and certainly not small children like me.

Most people lived in cardboard shacks and standards of living were sub poverty. opened up a free clinic in the slums of down town Tehran for anyone who needed it. pharmacist. Dr.Spared Mr. He had a midwife. a licensed vocational nurse and a nurse assistant who worked for him. a room for simple procedures or surgeries. Mr. an RN. With his own money. the Army hospital administer and chief MD during the day and then after taking a short break and having dinner at home he would head out to his second job. All of these people were on the payroll Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 81 . his real passion. Dr. and a laboratory. a pharmacy. fulfilled his duties as an Orthopedic/General surgeon. His clinic had 3 patient rooms.

Dr. He would hold his hands up in the air and say: “Ok. begging him to save the lives of their babies or themselves. People would swarm around him holding on to him. ok please let me get in and please be patient. the line of people waiting to get in was enormous. Grateful patients try to kiss his hands in gratitude and some would even try to get on the floor to kiss his feet as a gesture of gratitude. I will try my best to get to all of you”. At any given time there would be a woman screaming in labor or pain. The truth was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 82 .Spared paid by Mr. people sitting in the waiting room. It was first come first serve and usually by the time he arrived at the clinic. or people crying because they were suffering with some kind of ailment.

Dr was the reincarnation of Albert Schweitzer. a humanitarian Doctor who helped thousands of people in Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 83 . He spent many late nights.Spared he didn’t really want nor needed all the love patients would shower him with. In my eyes Mr. His ego was nonexistent. Even after doing all of this he would still never be able to get to everyone. unfortunate people. not getting any sleep doing whatever it took to care for as many people as he could possibly care for. but never complained or took it out on anyone. He always looked exhausted with big bags under his eyes. especially when it came to helping these poor. This was his passion and he was happy to do it. In fact some nights he would stay there all night.

He operated on my cousin’s deformed leg and a thousand other surgeries for other people at no cost to them whatsoever. he would perform the surgeries at a local hospital and would pay for the entire cost by himself.Spared Africa. This was evidenced by his deep commitment to serve humanity through his thoughts and actions. my mom remained very Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 84 . It was there in that clinic where he saved people and mended broken bodies and souls. As a matter of fact. At times when major surgeries were needed and his clinic was not advanced enough to accommodate it. one patient at a time. he would even give them cash to make sure they can afford to live until they are back on their feet. Through all this.

My step father had an office in our own house. where he would see patients privately as well. I had Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 85 .Spared supportive and understanding and never complained about decreased income or lack of time with Mr. and even accompanied him at his clinic helping with injections. Dr. when I was about 16 years old. one of the Officers who worked with my step father came to our house with his wife and daughter. nursing wounds and whatever it took to help care for patients. in my junior year in high school. Later on my mom obtained her midwifery certificate and helped at the clinic with deliveries and providing prenatal care. One evening. This was completely different and separate from what he did for the army.

I tried to impress my dad with my abilities Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 86 . He was wearing his uniform and introduced himself to me as Officer Nejat. but I noticed that the 10 year old daughter was limping. I greeted them. I had a dream that one day I would become my stepfather’s nurse. It was a routine I had done many times before. I would greet and settle patients down.Spared opened the door the day they came over to our house. I wasn’t even sure which one was the patient. so I always did whatever I could when it came to his patients. bring them some hot tea and then go call my dad and tell him his patients are ready to be seen. and took them down stairs in his office and told them I’ll call my dad in a minute.

Spared and took patient’s temperature. I also tried to show him my good customer service. Mr. how he arrives at his diagnosis and what the treatment plan included. To my disappointment. He had even showed me the actual oath certification which was hung on his office Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 87 . would remind me that what went on with his patients was confidential and he had taken an oath when he became a physician that he would not share patient’s information with anyone else unless it was medically necessary to discuss it from one physician to another or with a health care provider. and blood pressure. Dr. I always was so curious and wanted to know what was wrong with his patients and what his diagnosis was.

I was dying to know who this patient was and what was wrong. my mother was not so good at the confidentiality rule and would tell me about his cases. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 88 . he had done miracles for patients. I asked the little girl what her name was and she said it was Gita. including my own cousin’s uneven legs.Spared wall along with his other doctor’s credentials. Being an orthopedic surgeon. However. I figured the 10 year old girl must be the patient because she was limping and that is my father’s specialty. I informed my dad that his patients are ready to be seen. I brought 3 cups of tea for them and served it to them.

They had 2 more visits in our house and then my father was to operate on her. Even with Mr. I figured OK it must be her uneven legs that seem to be the problem. Dr. As a matter of fact he would face Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 89 .’s influence as the Army’s Surgeon. not even close. it was still denied. The Officer’s salary was not enough to cover the expenses. They were denied coverage thru the army as the surgery didn’t qualify as a necessary surgery. I asked my father which one the patient was. and she told me it was the little girl.Spared After the visit was over. and as usual he told me it was not any of my business. It was an expensive and extensive surgery that cost a fortune. I had to ask my mother if she knew later.

Perhaps Gita would have gotten by not having the surgery. They were devastated about this news but decided Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 90 . she didn’t stand a chance of finding a good husband. but when it came to her disfigurement. Once again my father gladly did the surgery for free.Spared bankruptcy and deep debt if he was to try to come up with the money himself. and had lost her virginity. especially when it came to a child’s disfigurement which needed treatment or surgery. He could not deny anyone. To my dad that was a necessity. I learned later on thru my mother about another very secret detail about this girl. She had been raped by one of her relatives when she was only 9 years old.

. there were doctors who would do the hymen repair surgery for a large sum of money for girls who had lost their virginity for whatever the reason. He felt if a girl chose to jump in bed with a man then she should face the consequence as well and did not wish to participate Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 91 . My dad refused to do this type of surgery because he considered it immoral.Spared not to press charges due to the possibility that this knowledge would become public. If that happened everyone would find out that she is no longer a virgin and it would ruin her chances of ever getting married. It reassured and proved to the husband that their blushing brides were virgins and can prove it. in Tehran. In the 1970’s.

My father did not charge them a penny. However. The lengthening process actually took more than one surgery to finalize.Spared in this deception. I don’t think he ever charged any of these families if they were unable to pay. he had done several cases because of the fact that these girls were children and victims of rape. It actually cost my dad money to do the surgeries because he had to use the hospital operating room and pay for anesthesiologist and other personnel to help him do the surgeries. One surgery was to repair or reconstruct her hymen and another surgery to lengthen her short leg. But he gladly paid Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 92 . So my father did 2 different surgeries for Gita.

” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 93 .’s hands. “You saved her life doctor. You also gave her a gift of walking normal so she doesn’t get teased by other children. I remember how grateful her parents were for my father’s services. The Officer’s wife was kissing Mr.Spared those extra costs by himself as he felt he was able to provide a chance for a better life and health. You gave her a chance to regain her virginity and once again that saved her from certain shame. Without this surgery she would have been a freak of nature. and crying happy tears. Dr. I wish to god that one day we can repay your heroic kindness.

Years later after my father passed away. Gita’s family cried at his funeral as if he was one of their own. but she refused to take it. Gita’s smiling face and straight walk is my payment. my mother told me that they showed up in my father’s funeral and tried to give my mother some of the money that they couldn’t pay at that time. They also told her that Gita was recently married and expecting her first child and that she was very happy.Spared They brought him flowers and pastry as a token of appreciation. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 94 . My father said that it was not necessary.

My mom was a little skeptical about taking me without my father’s consent.Spared Sanandaj The happiness of having my mom back was short lived and once again Mr. but I was able to convince her by telling her my dad would not even notice that I am not around. That was the truth. Dr received orders to move back to Sanandaj after living in Tehran only a year. my father could care less if I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 95 . To me that was devastating news and I could not imagine losing my mother again.

My mother didn’t ask Neda to go with us for the obvious reasons that Neda didn’t even want to visit. Mixing and mingling with Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 96 .Spared was dead or alive. let alone move out of Tehran and live with my mom on a permanent basis. I packed up my things and left to Sanandaj in the fall of 1973 when I was 12. Kurdish people are a nation without a country. With that decision made. Sanandaj was a small town with a 99 percent Kurdish population bordering Iraq. Besides my father would never allow Neda to leave his house. They are very strong willed and independent farming and herding community with strong moral beliefs and tight connections.

Most of my attempts to communicate with them failed because they refused to speak Farsi. I also didn’t speak any Kurdish which made communication very difficult.Spared them is not an easy task. Their attitude was that if I wanted to communicate with them then I had to learn their language. I eventually Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 97 . as majority of kids were Kurdish and didn’t want me in their circle. At school it was also difficult to fit in. and expected me to learn Kurdish. Even though most Kurdish children were bilingual speaking Kurdish as well as Farsi. I found it very difficult to adjust as the language was different and Kurdish culture was so different than ours. they would be very hesitant to use my language.

no vomiting.Spared transferred to a private school and it was much easier to blend in as most kids were children of military officers and doctors and not Kurdish. I would go with him to his hospital and he even allowed me to be present in the operating room but with strict instructions of no touching. Mr. Dr. and no fainting! It was there when Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 98 . was the only doctor to offer charity surgeries and care for the impoverished Kurds or whoever else who needed it. Dr. On one hand I was so happy to be with my mom and on the other I was so homesick and missed Neda. Mr. Sayareh and my freedom to do what I want badly. and 2 other doctors built a hospital together where they would care for patients in the evening.

and my savior.Spared my connections with him became a lot stronger and deeper as he showed me what a blessing it is to be able to serve and care for someone other than yourself. I couldn’t believe that I was trading living with my mom with going back Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 99 . Dr. The seed of humanitarian way of life was painted deep inside my soul. it was a calling. It was in Sanandaj where my need to be a nurse was confirmed. After a year of trying to adjust to Sanandaj I decided that I needed to go back to Tehran and didn’t feel like I belonged there. not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Mr. was my idol. as it no longer was a goal to be a nurse. my mentor. He became the loving father I never had and to this day.

Spared to living on my own with periods of hunger. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 100 . and now I couldn’t live without. Strange. it was my family that I had spend so much time and energy getting used to. freezing cold. Neda and Sayareh were so happy to have me back and it was like coming back to my own little unusual family all over again. My mom told me that I will be welcomed to come back if I ever change my mind. dysfunctional. neglectful or not. and loneliness.

Spared CHAPTER TWO Calm before storm. “God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 101 .

” Stanley Lindquist quotes Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 102 .Spared deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them.

After going back to live at my father’s house again. Her endeavors usually consisted of being gone only for a day or two. Sharifeh was making a turn around and for whatever the reason.Spared High school. things were starting to change for the better. She never questioned us about wanting to travel to see our Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 103 . she stayed home most of the time. She would occasionally leave town for short periods of time to go and visit her other daughter in her home town.

Parisa was in the same age and grade as Neda and together they usually studied very hard. My cousin Parisa came to visit with us.Spared grandmother or anywhere else for that matter. He arrived without any notice and usually left without a good bye. We had an unwritten rule not to question one another about where we were going and simply just coexist. we were very much capable of caring for ourselves. Like Neda she was academically motivated and an Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 104 . but I was used to this by now because it was very typical of him. I was an excellent cook by then and even if she did leave town. and at times she would stay a week at a time. My father still made an appearance approximately every 6 months.

a man who did not qualify to go to college regardless of reasons behind it was not likely to be able to marry a high quality bride. but aim high educationally and be better than the generations before. Unlike other countries where the decision to go to school is an option. you basically have to have a college degree in order to make any decent money. Sayareh and I still struggled in high school. dead-end jobs. In addition. Girls who were beautiful or come from well known respectable families were usually arranged to marry men Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 105 . in Iran. Without a degree a person is limited to minimum pay.Spared overachiever. Neda was very close to finishing high school and we were raised to not only go to college.

Some students are very smart. Your only choice is the major you will pick. It could be that they may have lost the father or the main bread winner of the family. but because they have to work to support their family. in the event of the father’s death. In some families children didn’t even have the choice of major and were dictated and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 106 . do not have the time or opportunity to devote 4 years to school.Spared who have either wealth or higher education or both. Decision to go to higher education was not an option as far as most people in big cities in Iran are concerned. It is the son who typically assumes responsibility to work and make ends meet. which means he will not be able to continue his own education.

For example my cousin was forced to become a surgeon and every time I saw her. or a lawyers. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 107 . getting married. physical therapy or business. and raising a family. Of course people in smaller towns had different agendas which usually included farming. Neda definitely wanted to go to college and perhaps either major in Architectural studies. she would verbalize how much she hates her job and how resentful she was that she had to become a doctor only to make her parents happy. Some parents would force their children to take these majors in hopes of having a better future financially and to increase the status of their family. engineers.Spared expected to become doctors.

Konkoor was a test all students had to take right after graduation from high school to determine if they qualify to go to public universities. It was a nationwide test. taking place the same day. tropical and beautiful there. Sayareh was undecided about what she wanted to do. however. We all looked forward to a big national test called “Konkoor”. I chose that location because it was so green. Sari also had a very reputable nursing university. same time all over Iran.Spared I was certainly convinced that my calling is to be a nurse and had planned to go to a city near the Caspian Sea called Sari. In Iran there are not enough universities to accommodate all Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 108 . she often found the subjects of accounting and math interesting.

they may or may not qualify for all or any of the desired majors. At the end she took Konkoor the same day and found out that she was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 109 . she studied for weeks both days and nights. When the time came for Neda to take Konkoor.Spared students. and based on the Konkoor score. Students have to declare ten choices from the most desired major to the least desired. Those who did not get good enough Konkoor scores to go to public universities had the option to take Konkoor for private universities. in the desired locations all around the country. with very high tuitions. Konkoor is a process to pick out the best and the smartest. therefore. however obviously the cost was something not everyone could afford.

and anxiety over how to get by from one day to another to survive hunger and cold. High school was the best part of my childhood as I had several close friends and the freedom to do what I wanted. The name of the high school was Kharazmi and it was an all girl’s private high school centered in the heart of Tehran and a lot of rich people would send their children to that school. We had several senators.Spared accepted into a private university called Melli University in Tehran majoring in Business Administrations. With high school came hope of the future and a new era in my life. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 110 . This was Neda’s 2nd choice. I no longer was haunted by fear of being alone.

My best friend was Soraya who was in the same class with me since 6th grade. She was a very beautiful but shy girl who had a very distinctive voice. There were many snobs in my classes. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 111 . It sounded like her voice never developed into a voice of an adult woman.Spared generals. If you heard her on the phone she could be easily mistaken for a child. I was always the one to defend her and stand up for her as she was too intimidated to do it herself. doctors. and other high status family’s kids attending that school. down to earth friends. but I had a circle of wonderful. Due to this impediment she was always subject to humiliation and teasing.

Leyla and Sina were in love with each other for as long as I knew Leyla. Her Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 112 . which was 4 yrs. She had a boyfriend called Sina who created a disturbing source of bitterness with Leyla’s family. Muslim family with a dictator style of child rearing. a stunningly beautiful. rebellious. Sina was a 20 year old nice young man who also was in love with Leyla just as much if not more. She came from a religious. She was to obey without questioning or else she was beaten badly into submission. Leyla was so gorgeous that she could have any man she wanted but she wanted Sina. since she was 12. and would do anything to marry Leyla. courageous and very funny.Spared Among my other friends was Leyla.

Leyla took full advantage of this gift. but she also had beautiful hand writing. Her courtship with Sina was very much forbidden by her parents. Her hand writing was so convincing that the principle believed such beautiful hand writing can only belong to a parent and not the student. She always brought an excuse letter which she wrote herself. Leyla’s parents forbid Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 113 .Spared relationship with him consisted of mostly small gaps of stolen time from school when she ditched from going to classes. and letters. and it was easily accepted by the principal’s office. Leyla was not only a beautiful girl with a beautiful spirit. phone calls. and used it to her benefit by faking sicknesses very often to be with Sina.

To make it even more difficult was his social status. No parent in their right mind would consent to marrying off their daughter to a poor. He was not educated beyond a high school diploma which was a huge disqualifying factor for men. let alone a wife and children. For one thing she was not allowed to choose her own husband and that was up to her parents to arrange a marriage with a suitable man. uneducated man who was not able to even care for himself. It was much lower than Leyla’s family and was considered poor and low class. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 114 . His parents had already gone to Leyla’s house formally asking for this union.Spared her to see Sina for many different reasons. Another problem was his education.

but were they were told that it was never going to be an option. She was determined that she was going to marry him Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 115 .Spared in hopes of getting married. but the rebellious in her would carry on. talk to him on the phone and wanted to be married to him. Against her parents’ consent. Again and again she would be beaten with a belt in effort to stop her from communicating with Sina. She was deeply in love with Sina. with no regards to how her family felt about it. whether her parents liked it or not. Regardless of all these obstacles Leyla maintained a relationship any which way she could. she would meet with him. even though she knew it was an impossible request as far as her parents were concerned.

Although she was in the same grade as I was. but we always walked together going to and coming back from school because our homes were very close to one another. but somehow destiny made sure our path would cross and we became very good friends. she was in a different classroom from me. She had her own circle of friends and so did I. and during the summer we would go to English fluency classes to better our ability in speaking English.Spared whether her family agreed or not. We were both very strong in both Arabic and English. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 116 . threatening her parents that she will commit suicide if they would stand in her way. We got to spend a lot of time during summer together and grew very close.

in hopes of discouraging her from seeing him again. Leyla’s father had punished her for seeing Sina despite being told not to. She also occasionally stood up to our teachers and our principle. I definitely lived vicariously thru her.Spared Leyla was everything I was not. In the United States. this kind of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 117 . I on the other hand was very passive and obedient by nature and I liked to blend in rather than stand out. Somehow I think I idealized her and was fascinated with her courage and risk taking. by beating her with his belt to the point she was black and blue. such as her parents. I never had the guts she had to stand up against people who tried to bully her.

To get even and manipulate her parents. She survived. However. after that incident she threatened both her parents that she will commit suicide if they prevented her from marrying Sina. but in Iran that was just routine parental control. That threat just added fuel to the fire and they forbid her to go out of the house all together. After that incident they were so grateful that she survived that they sacrificed a sheep in their Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 118 . she took a whole bottle of her mom’s prescription sleeping pills and had to be rushed to the hospital.Spared punishment would have certainly warranted child abuse charges. and her parents were very scared and remorseful because they realized that they came so close to losing her.

Her parents promised to never hit her again but she was still prohibited from communicating with Sina. They also went to Sina’s parent’s house and told them in no uncertain terms that they will never agree to this marriage and if they cannot control their son from communicating with Leyla. The whole reason Leyla was taking this Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 119 . This was a common practice and a way to say thanks to god. when you knew that you came so close to a disaster but were spared somehow. After that Leyla’s parents allowed her to go back to school but she was chaperoned by her brother to and from school.Spared front yard and gave away the meat to the needy. they would have to get a restraining order or sue them for harassment.

Many of the agencies which helped people send their children out of the country required a higher than average proficiency in the English language. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 120 .Spared English proficiency test was an attempt by her parents to send her out of the country to finish college and get her as far away from Sina as possible.

Since Mr. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 121 . Dr. basically raised him after their father passed away at a young age. he was very dear to him. In summer of 1976 when I was 16 years old. Farhad came to Iran for a visit. Dr had 3 younger brothers.Spared Farhad Mr. They had a young son together. He was balding a little bit. He was a 38 year old sophisticated gentleman who had been divorced from his wife a few years back who was also from the Netherlands. and Farhad was the youngest who worked for the Iranian embassy in Netherlands for the last 15 years.

He seemed adventurous. because I on the other hand had never been abroad. not travelled much at all. and asked a million questions. not even to the other major cities in Iran. but I could certainly tell he was flirting as he talked for a long time with the other person on the phone. I was very fascinated with him. When I met him I found myself very intrigued by him. He Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 122 . educated and had lived in Netherlands for many years and perhaps had many interesting stories and experiences.Spared but his charm certainly made up for it. I could not understand what he was saying. He struck me as a gigolo and received numerous phone calls from different women in the Netherlands on a regular basis. This made me intrigued by him.

kept up the outing escapades for a while with him. you could certainly have a great time. In Tehran those days. Dr. they allowed Neda and I to accompany him. and movies. exhibits. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 123 . We ate out at the best restaurants in Tehran’s upscale. saw a lot of museums.Spared had extremely high energy and liked going out and party all the time to different cabarets. if you wanted to have fun and had some money to spend. movies. disco’s. My mom and Mr. Neda and I gladly went out and enjoyed what Tehran’s night life had to offer. restaurants. or just walking in the parks. but after a while when they were burned out and exhausted to go out anymore. uptown area.

always smelled very good. I was frozen. but yet very strangely excited with goose bumps all over my body. smoked cigars. He caressed my hand and at one point Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 124 . One time when we went to see a movie.Spared He dressed himself in the very best Armani suits. and drank coffee instead of tea which was very unusual for Iranians. In middle of the movie I felt his hand crawl over mine on the seat handle and held it very tightly but gently. I had never been in that situation before and it was all new to me. I was too embarrassed to look at him and continued watching the movie. or not to do anything at all. confused. Iranians drink tea from dawn to dusk. he was sitting in between Neda and I. I had no idea what to do next.

A part of me was screaming to pull my hand away. only by my mom’s marriage to Mr. but in Iran it was different. He was not related to me by blood. I liked it. I looked at him. but a part of me was very flattered that a man of his status was showing interest in me. but it felt so good. Dr. and in the very dim lights of the movie theatre I saw him smiling at me. In United States standards this union is probably forbidden. My heart was beating so fast. and my mouth was as dry as the Sahara’s sand.Spared he picked up my hand and kissed it. Many rules regarding Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 125 . “What is going on?” I thought to myself. He is my step uncle and so much older than me. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. so I didn’t fight it anymore. Wow.

Spared marriage are different and more lax in Iran. and she denied that he had not. an example of that is that first cousins can get married to each other. and could not get him off my mind. I found myself infatuated by him. I asked Neda if he did the same to her. Neda told me that she could tell by the way he was staring at me that there was something going on and was not so surprised that he made the move. because he was so different than any man I had ever met. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 126 . When he dropped us off that night. I was so confused. but yet giddy. I knew that he was 22 years older than me but this was not uncommon in my country.

and already naming our children that we were going to have. humming the wedding music. I need you to tell me what I am going to do or what I am going to say when he comes over to my house tonight. should I not? Come on help me please. Do I talk to him about it or wait for him to do it? Should I tell my mom.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 127 . They were giggling and laughing. “You guys are no help.Spared The next day when I went to school I told Leyla. Soraya and a few other friends about what happened the night before.

and after speculating for half hour we concluded that it must come out of the belly button! Making sure girls remained sheltered was a very common practice among parents in hope of making sure we didn’t lose our Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 128 . dating. I vividly remember a time when I was 15 years old and had a discussion with my high school friends about how and where babies come out of. or even where babies come from was extremely limited. As a general rule.Spared The problem was that my friends were never in that situation before either and everyone was just throwing out crazy suggestions that were very unhelpful. Iranian girls in my generation in 1970’s lived a very sheltered life and our knowledge of sex education.

Spared virginity. He stared at me as if he wanted to say something. blew dried my hair and put on some blush so very lightly hoping my mom would not notice. After we had dinner I got up and cleaned the table. At times when no one was looking he would move his lips to say something silently. but I couldn’t read his lips. That night when Farhad came over my heart was going so fast with excitement. just to have an excuse to get away and go to the kitchen to avoid the awkwardness. So with the advice of my friends I was going to remain silent until he would bring it up himself. Knowing he would come over again that night. I made sure I was showered. My mom usually did the clean up Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 129 .

and it had his number written down. I decided to call him on my way to school from a pay phone. he excused himself while listening to Mr. I couldn’t call him for 2 reasons. I opened up the paper.Spared but I told her to let me do it to give her a break. He also stole a quick kiss on my cheek and left quickly.’s piano playing and came up to the kitchen and handed me a piece of paper. Dr. At the end of the night. who are usually both present in the living room where the phone was. First reason was I didn’t know what to say and second reason was that I was not able to make a call in front of my mom and Mr. and said “call me”. I ended up chickening out and go straight to school to get more bad advice from my Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 130 . Dr.

He motioned for me to get in his car. He then turned around and said: “I think we need to talk don’t you?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 131 . Not even 5 minutes had gone by when I heard a relentless car horn. First few moments were very awkward and mostly small talk. I lifted my head and saw Farhad in his car trying to get my attention. and I agreed without any hesitation. I was feeling so shy and embarrassed and didn’t know what else to say. He drove to a quiet street and parked there. so I can think and clear my mind.Spared friends. After school was over. I decided to walk to my mom’s house instead of taking the taxi.

but please Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 132 . “Listen. Farhad said. “From the minute I met you in the airport. I think I let out a shallow sigh “Ahh” I was in disbelief of what I am hearing. what happened in the movie theatre was not an attempt of a man trying to take advantage of you. I don’t know how to say it. but I think I am falling in love with you. It was very genuine. I know my age probably scares you.Spared I nodded my head to say yes.” As he reached out and gently grabbed my hands. I couldn’t get my eyes off you and I wanted so badly to hold your hand.

Spared do realize that age has nothing to do with love. and definitely want to go to college as well.” “I am only 16 years old. Besides. “I also have not even graduated from high school yet. Please talk to me. tell me what you think about all this. and you are 38. I know you are used to the European ways by now Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 133 . On the other hand.” He shook his head to show his understanding. how are you planning on maintaining a relationship if you live in Netherlands. you don’t even live here. yes that does concern me a little bit.

Like I said I am not here to take advantage of you.Spared and think we can just date. and are wolves in Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 134 . you are smarter than I thought you were. and I was remembering all the warning my mom had given me about men who have bad intentions. I give you a lot of credit for your critical thinking. Ok here is what I had planned.” I looked like I was listening. but my heart was pounding. how do you expect us to date?” “Very good points. and lie to you just to take your virginity away and leave you like I know some men in Iran do. I promise you I am not like them. but you know in Iran girls are not suppose to be dating.

“I was hoping with your approval to go to your parents and ask for your hand. They have wonderful nursing schools there and you don’t have to worry about anything at all. Listen. Is he one of them? Oh god I hope not. and do the right thing.Spared sheep disguise. I want to marry you and take you with me to Netherlands. I want you to be my wife. I have a very beautiful. and we won’t have any Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 135 . Once you are there you can get your high school diploma and go to college right after. he looks so honest. You get to decorate it any which way you wish. large home and make enough money for the both of us.

your bubbly personality.Spared children until you have graduated from college. Do you have any feeling for me?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 136 . You want to marry me?” “Yes I do. I lost you 5 minutes ago. “Oh wait wait wait. Does any of this sound good to you?” I was getting so overwhelmed and felt like I just got hit with a bus. I have been and seen enough women to know that you are the one for me. I love your innocence. I want a Persian wife. your body. your looks. and your sense of humor.. This information was an overload to my mind. not so fast. Now please tell me something.

What I am trying to say is I need time to think about it. I cannot tell you yes or no right this minute.Spared I struggled to get the right words out without hurting his feelings. Take your time.” Oh of course. I really like you. or at least I don’t’ know what I am suppose to feel like if I am in love. “You know Farhad. Do you mind if I spoke to your parents about my intensions?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 137 . I understand. think about it. I can’t lie to you. but I cannot say I love you. Does anyone know? Never mind. I just wanted to tell you my intensions so you don’t think I am here to use you and then take off.

but I still had a curfew. We were permitted to go out to movies. and they were elated with that news knowing that he is someone they already know. restaurants. He smiled and tenderly and softly kissed me on the lips. so I don’t have to sneak around behind their back”. but I just didn’t feel the love. My mom told me to take my time. and no matter what I decide I had their blessings. Soon he Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 138 . and felt so excited when he would come to pick me up.Spared “No I don’t mind. It felt very pleasant. and can trust. or other places. I cared very much about him. In the next week he did speak to my parents. parks. and it is basically up to me to decide to marry him or not. as a matter of fact I feel better if they knew.

Spared had to leave back to Netherlands due to the country’s declining stability and safety. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 139 . I felt very overwhelmed with making that decision. Farhad left Iran on 7/18/1978. and to make sure he leaves before they close the boarders. and for me to make a decision. The plan was for him to call me every day and talk. Iranian Islamic revolution. I was left to decide if I like to go thru with marriage or not. and didn’t know if anyone can ever be so sure.

In 1941 his son. Mohammad Reza shah Pahlavi replaced his father on the throne on 9/16/1941 who ruled Iran until he was overthrown by Iranian revolution on 2/11/1979. Pahlavi Dynasty ruled Iran starting with Reza Shah in 1925. hair Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 140 .Spared Iran was ruled by a Monarchy style regime for almost 2500 years since the start of the Persian Empire. with miniskirts. He was the last of the Pahlavi dynasty to ever rule Iran. A typical day in streets of most large cities such as Tehran in 1978 would reveal women dressed very much like women in United States or Europe.

belly dancing. and long wavy hair flowing in the air. button down shirts with lapels showing their hairy chests.Spared colored and done to perfection. Streets were lined with high fashion boutiques. and other entertainment. best shoe shops with Italian leather and other imported goods. Shah was spending billions of dollars earned from selling oil to the Unites States and other countries. full professional make up and high heels. and spending Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 141 . wearing acid washed bell bottom jeans. Men were equally fashion conscious. and stores that sold alcoholic beverages with no restrictions or regards to Islamic rules. At night rich people enjoyed lavish outings to cabarets watching singers live on stage.

Savak which was the CIA of Iran. The Shah was heavily criticized for spending millions of dollars to celebrate the 2500 anniversary of the Persian Empire in Persepolis while excluding people of Persia from this festivity. and armed forces. There was a huge wave of discontent. The efforts to westernize and modernize the country was due to the vision of the Pahlavi dynasty making sure Iran is just as modernized as any other country such as Europe and the United states and not a third world country any more.Spared most of it for the royal family. and criticism about foolish spending of the oil money in careless manners. What they didn’t do was to make sure that poor people as well as Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 142 .

Religious groups were disgusted of the fact that that women were walking around in the streets “half naked”. As a result the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. With that came extreme resentfulness of the poor and religious layer of the society. with no regards to the Koran’s Islamic teachings that dictates “women are to be veiled. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 143 .Spared wealthy people have equal access to opportunities and money making trades. and away from the world of men”. It is a clear violation of the Islamic laws for a woman to display hair or any part of her body to a man or in public and in their view women were living sinful lives enabled and supported by the government.

sharing a large border with America’s rival. On January 9th. They also demanded the return of Ayatollah Khomeini back to Iran. It was very obvious that Shah’s whole existence was being supported by the United States due to the fact that Iran was the biggest.Spared Shah was criticized for being a puppet for the United States. 1978 there was a large protest to oppose President Carter visits to Iran and to voice the peoples disapproval of Shah being controlled by the United States. the Soviet Union. most powerful country in the oil rich Persian Gulf. Another reason why the United States was supportive of Shah was Iran’s strategic location. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 144 .

Spared Ayatollah Khomeini was a religious leader in Iran who was arrested and exiled to France in 1963 by Shah for his aggressive and relentless oppositions to the Shah’s regime. Shah was getting extremely worried about his weakening stability and security. On November 4 1978. Unfortunately the police made the wrong decision and opened fire to the crowd of opposing protestors and killed approximately 70 of his followers. As the waves of the protesting and riots increased after January 1978. That was basically what set in motion the start of numerous riots and protests to take place throughout all cities in Iran. he was reassured that he will receive full military support by Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 145 .

and received no help to fight back the protestors.Spared United States in case of direct threats. By summer of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 146 . once again Shah reached out to President Carter. Faced with the fear of being overthrown by the hundreds of thousand numbers of protestors. As a result shah tried a different tactic to deal with protestors He was capturing and imprisoning as many protestors as possible. executing and torturing them in very inhumane manners. Shah reached out to President Carter for support but was told that Iran is not in a revolutionary situation. Surprisingly was not backed up. The nature of protesting soon changed from a few hundred protestors to hundreds of thousands of protesters.

Shah was in a panic and found himself unable to arrest all protestors as there were simply too many of them.Spared 1978 the revolution had gone full blown as millions of people consistently protested in all major cities in Iran. tortured. or executed. Shah tried to cut back on spending to gain back people’s trust but unfortunately that caused large layoff’s which only added fuel to fire and made people angrier and fed up. arrested. Every family I knew had a few members missing. We tried not to get out of the house if it was at all possible. My parents continued to advise Neda and I to stay out of trouble by staying away from protestors and keep to ourselves. I knew several students from Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 147 .

Most military personnel were fleeing country with their family in fear of the regime collapse and imprisonment. though insisted that he was going to stay put in Iran. even if the government is overthrown. Every day there were news on the radio and television about bombs that would go off. because he had never done anything that would cause him to get in to trouble. Inflation Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 148 .Spared my school who were already arrested or missing. and sirens were heard all day longs. Mr. which was unfortunately always bad news. People were glued to the radio and television to hear the latest news. and has nothing to fear. buildings burned. Dr. Rich people were wiring all their money to other countries in fear of unstable government.

we were still walking around without Hijab and became subject to those stabbing dirty looks from those Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 149 . However. before the start of the revolution ninety five percent of women in the streets walk around without “Hijab” or their covers. and I. rice. Between my mom. You could see long lines of people trying to buy basic necessities such as milk. after the revolution that percentage was reversing to sixty percent with Hijab and only forty percent without. No one could get fresh produce meat or rice as the import and export trades were all halted. Statically. and meats.Spared was climbing steadily causing shortage of foods. Neda. oil. and only five percent with.

I would just walk away and try not to get in to arguments. and live by the Koran rules. I was at a point that I thought it might be safer to wear Hijab. These girls also tried to get thru to you by promising you rewards if you wore Hijab. you Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 150 . or being one of Ayatollah Khomeini followers. “If you wear Hijab. Those girls would see no problem with harassing anyone without Hijab and call us names like “Devil worshipers”. pray 3 times a day. but then again I might get in trouble for belonging to a religious group.Spared women with Hijab and that was really frightening. That trend was also the same in my high school. I was confronted by several girls asking me if I don’t believe in god because I wasn’t wearing Hijab.

I was blown away and surprised to see many of my friends buy in to that. suddenly would be acting strange by wiping off their makeup.” That was the promise given to us by the religious girls. If I didn’t wear Hijab. reciting the Koran verses.Spared would be guaranteed a place in heaven. like brainwashed robots. and starting every sentence with “In the name of the holy god the merciful”. The very same friends who would wore miniskirts and high heels. I would Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 151 . wearing Hijab. Although I would smile and walk away. I just knew I had to keep my mouth shut because if I followed the religious groups I would get in trouble and guilty of being one of the Ayatollah Khomeini followers and actively going against the government.

Most people I knew were on Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 152 . In addition to the Ayatollah followers. It was very difficult not to belong to any of these interest groups and just simply exist and mind your own business. It was a no win situation. there was also the communist party as well as Mujahedin who also tried to lure you in their circle of followers. No one trusted anybody else in fear of getting arrested or executed. There was such anxiety among everyone and uncertainty of not knowing how much worse it can really get. anger. The general moods of people were one of disbelief. insecurity.Spared be under pressure by the religious groups and called a devil worshiper. I just pretended I had no opinion whatsoever. fear. and shock.

as well as my high school was one of the only places that were still open. but until we received official orders from the principle to stay home. we had to attend school. Only a handful of schools were still open and Neda’s university. The decision to close educational centers also contributed to the number of protestors as they had too much free time on their Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 153 . My mom was worried about sending us off to school each day.Spared some kind of anti anxiety or antidepressant medication hoping to sooth the jagged edges of their shredded souls being torn apart not knowing what to believe All educational centers from elementary schools to universities started closing up in an effort to ensure student safety.

One ordinary July day. had warned us all about avoiding areas where protestors Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 154 .Spared hands having no school to attend and no jobs to go to. Mr. Dr. my mom had to go out to run an errand close to Tehran University. the grounds were used to hold meetings and gathering of people with different political interests. Luckily our family was not stricken with any deaths or executions. My mom was usually overly careful and knew better to change course of her destination if she was to come close to any gathering or crowd. but her curiosity got her in trouble. but we had our own share of revolution related mishaps. Even though most of the universities were closed.

It was too late for my mom to run and avoid it and as a result she inhaled it for at least 10 minutes before she was captured. These were graphic pictures of shooting victims from various different protests and demonstrations. hand cuffed and thrown in a police van along with a handful of other protestors. My mom got closer to see what those pictures looked like. and that was when a tear gas grenade was thrown in to the crowd by the guards. There were a lot of people holding posters with pictures on them. On that day my mom’s curiosity over ruled my stepdad’s advice and got the better of her.Spared typically gather and run the other way if it looked unsafe. made to inflame people’s emotions. After all the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 155 .

my mom started having heart problems. and defiant. and examining the arrested men and women they couldn’t exactly figure out why my mom was there. However. She tried very hard to not mention that she happens to be the wife of an army general in fear of causing shame and disappointment to Mr. Although we all Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 156 . Dr. She didn’t fit the typical protestor profile who is typically yelling. she was told if she was ever arrested again she will go straight to Evin. After interrogating her for a while. questioning. She pleaded with them that it is a case of mistaken identity as she was just an innocent standby who got mixed up with the protestors.Spared interrogating. which finally led them to release her. angry.

or killed. and had planned to come to my mom’s house in the afternoon.Spared knew this. when we saw on television that a group of protestors at the Melli University where Neda was attending. That was a very typical behavior for my mom to always assume the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 157 . My mom was so humiliated by this incident and she also realized how easy it is to get in trouble. We were watching TV. Instantly my mom went in to a panic mode. we kept it a secret from Mr. listening to the latest news on riots and protesting like we did every day. were beaten. Dr. and arrested. and already assumed that Neda is either in Evin prison. In the fall of 1978. beaten. Neda was still at school.

sitting quietly and watching TV. All my mom could do was pace up and down our living room. hoping to hear Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 158 . I knew my mom pretty well and I knew that it was not a good time to challenge my mom’s anxiety as she could get very irritable and irrational. I tried very hard to calm her down trying to reassure her that Neda is just fine and possibly on her way home.Spared worse. uncomfortable silence and tension in the house. and pray for Neda’s safety. injured or alive. I could somehow relate by thinking until Neda shows up at the door. I somehow believed that if I stayed calm and acted normal it would help my mother. There was a heavy. so I stayed in the living room. how anyone can say if she is dead.

Dr. tried to calm her down. She decided to walk towards the main road where Neda was supposed to come thru. and when that time came around and Neda did not show up my mom opened the door and stood there hoping she would see Neda any second now. “Honey. please don’t jump in to any conclusions. There was no Neda. you know if there was protestors. that means streets will be a mess with traffic. Neda was supposed to arrive at 2 pm.Spared something positive. and she wouldn’t be able to get home any Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 159 . After 20 minutes she came back alone in an obvious terrorizing panic with tears rolling down her cheeks. She didn’t want me to go with her. Mr.

Dr. The bus she rides to come home might not be able to get thru the crowds. this is to be expected”. Once Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 160 . This meant the Evin prison. Television was giving us minute by minute updates and of course more bad news about the students involved in the protest announcing that so many are injured and many have been taken in custody. said Mr. I have this really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. So see. I just don’t know what it is.Spared earlier. please don’t mind me”. Said my mom. and I know something is wrong. “Please don’t tell me how to feel. while rubbing my mom’s shoulder.

They were all missing. Talking to the other mother’s only confirmed my mom’s hunch about very bad news. and stills no sign of Neda. and the strong possibility of torture and interrogation. and his name was Mr. The clock rolled to 5 pm. It seemed like a crazy idea knowing that soldiers usually block roads leading to the universities and do not allow anyone go any Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 161 . He was a Jewish man.Spared anyone makes it to Evin. there is very little hope if they ever get out. One of the fathers of a classmate who was Neda’s best friend “Mahnaz” had taken his car to go to the university searching for his daughter. Yebri. My mom had already called all of Neda’s friends and classmates homes and surprisingly no sign of them either.

didn’t do the same. In hopeless desperation. That was why Mr. Eight o’clock rolled around and my mom was going out of her mind. She was praying about giving so much money to the charity if Neda comes back home unharmed. I could see the veins on the side of my mom’s forehead bulging and pulsating. or held against her will in Evin prison was climbing. making deals with god. The fear of Neda being an added statistic in death roll.Spared further. or lying in a ditch. This was done whenever there was any protesting going on to be able to arrest the ones involved. she would donate so much money to the needy. By ten o’clock my Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 162 . Dr. she was sitting on the floor and praying the Islamic way.

and no one was saying anything to anyone. as we were all suspecting the worse. Dr. Tension was high and each of us tried to cope a different way. but I don’t think she was paying any attention to the news. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 163 . Mr. and I were also sitting there quietly. snapped all of us out of our coma like silence. and didn’t really know what to say.Spared mom looked like she had lost all hope as she was sitting in the living room. Yebri. crying quietly and staring at the television. Suddenly bright head lights combined with screeching tires of a car which stopped right in front of our house. What we saw was the car belonging to Mr. We all jumped out of our chairs and went outside to see what that is all about.

finding these kids was not easy.Spared helping Neda out of the car. He was in an extreme hurry rushing to get Neda to us. “Please forgive me for running. I have several other students to take to their worrying parents before I go to my own house. Neda looked like a zombie. Please call my wife and tell her that Mahnaz is ok and we will be home about an hour or 2 after I drop off everyone else. including your daughter. In the car I could see at least 6 or 7 other students. Some were hiding in street corners and some were simply trying to walk home.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 164 . and had to be pushed and dragged to force her to walk. Just to let you know.

and started looking for them in all streets until he spotted Mahnaz and Neda walking down the street.Spared Yebri We learned later that Mr. and was at least an hour drive from our house. She would not respond to any verbal commands. Neda was obviously in a shock and acting very strange. and walking. Unable to find anyone. scared. but eventually had to park his car and walk the rest of the way. and screamed all the way in the car ride as if she was being Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 165 . Yebri went north as far as he could to reach the university. Melli University is in the farthest north side of Tehran. She was restless. combative. Mahnaz and Neda looked dazed. he returned to his car. So we knew he must have walked a long way.

who was Neda’s good friend. He was throwing rocks at the soldiers when he was hit in the mouth with a baton. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 166 .Spared attacked by invisible soldiers. but people were still getting hurt from the blows of the batons. When the protesting broke out in the university. There were no guns or rifles. they were faced with full blown combat between protestors. and soldiers. Neda and Mahnaz were in a classroom but soon had to get out as the soldiers were firing tear gas in the buildings. was a 13 year old genius. One of the students named Afshin. There were numerous soldiers who were hitting protestors with batons. and students were throwing rocks at them. and lost most his teeth. and bleeding profusely. As they got out.

they were able to get out to the residential side streets and started their walk home. That was when Mahnaz knew that she had to get herself and Neda out of there and run and hide. but looked very traumatized and not saying a word the whole time until they were found by Mr. They got rid of their books. Happy to finally found them alive and mostly unharmed. Neda was quiet and not screaming anymore. On the way Mahnaz asked her father to stop the car as she recognized more and more Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 167 . Neda was obviously traumatized and was screaming uncontrollably. Yebri. Knowing a way to the back of the university. so they would not be identified as students.Spared After witnessing that. he headed home.

and some disappeared and never returned. as he knew if found by the soldiers. and not answering any questions. they will go to Evin prison. It was a miracle that they got out of that protest at all. Since it was late at night. we decided to put her in bed so she can sleep it off. but looked very pale. staring in to the horizon. guilty or not. After putting her to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 168 . hoping tomorrow would be a better day. Her body was back but her mind was somewhere else.Spared friends walking down the street as well. She was basically untouched. My mom was beside herself to have Neda back. Later on we heard many of Neda classmates ended up in Evin. He gladly stopped to pick them up as well.

much worse. Dr. Neda is a very smart girl. talking for a long time. as a matter of fact. and has Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 169 . it’s only going to get worse. but this upheaval and protesting is not going away. but I could hear my mom and Mr. and the country is stable and safe enough for students to go back to school.Spared bed we sat in the living room and thanking god about how lucky Neda was not to be dead or arrested.” “Honey I don’t know if you are really fully aware of the gravity of what’s going on. I soon went to bed myself. My mother was saying: “That’s it. she is not going to go back to the university until all has settled down.

he continued: “It would be total injustice for Neda not to go thru college considering her excellent academic achievements that she has shown so far. it always does in similar situations”. After a short while. Boarders will close.Spared always been a straight A student. Universities are centers for upheaval Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 170 . Said Mr. we need to get her out of the country to Europe or the United States before they close the borders for good. Dr. guaranteed. She will have a bright future given the opportunity for adequate education. I also don’t want her to get killed next time she steps foot in her college and her safety is very important as well. If you really want her to have that opportunity.

I can see her getting married in the near future and starting a family and be a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 171 . Dr. Although she is my daughter and I love her dearly. I think we are lucky if she even graduates from high school. she is not as smart as Neda and she is not going to miss anything if she didn’t go to college at all. What about Nastaran? Are you thinking about her as well? Should we think about sending her as well? What are you plan for her?” said Mr. I think you are right. “Well Nastaran is a different child entirely. To tell you the truth.Spared recently. let’s make arrangements for her to get out the country while the boarders are still open.

She is so interested in the science of medicine.” “Oh no honey. She was born to be a housewife. which is nursing. Dr. I disagree. Don’t underestimate Nastaran. We owe it to her to nourish the calling in her. She may not be getting the best of grades or have any academic excellence.” Said my Mr. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 172 . not a college scholar. You should see how pumped up and excited she gets when she follows me around the hospital and begs me to let her do more. I truly think that Nursing is her calling . but her passion for nursing is undeniable.Spared happy mom.

Spared “Well………if she really wants to go to a Nursing school that is ok with me. “I do understand if you don’t want to send both your children out of the country. If not it is always good for her to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 173 . I can’t have both of them gone and if I had to chose. I really recommend that we send Nastaran to go to English proficiency classes to get her ready in case things got so bad here that she had to be sent out of the country as well. but she can do it right here in Iran. with a little chuckle in her voice. Besides I want at least one of my children to stay with me in Iran. Nastaran would be the one to stay back with me because we are so much closer to each other”. She doesn’t have to go to the United States to do that.

I was blown away and heartbroken by their remarks about me. I loved that he believed in me. Dr. I think that was the first time I had ever known anyone who believed in me when I didn’t even Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 174 . Do they really think I am that bad? It was interesting to see what my parents thought of me when they think I cannot hear them.Spared learn the English language at a higher level. and even more than that. I appreciated the way Mr. stuck up for me. I am so hurt that they were talking about me as if I was dumb. Neda does not need that since her English is already at a higher level and her college does not require the proficiency course”.

In the next few days. I chose to be happy and celebrate the fact that I am good at something. My dad would give her a valium to calm her down and my mom would make sure she drinks something before she fell asleep again to avoid getting dehydrated. I knew that I didn’t want to leave the country and I still had my heart set on going to nursing school in Sari. Instead of being upset. Neda woke up every 10-12 hours screaming and combative. It took about 3 days before she woke up and stayed up She finally started to respond to us talking to her. It was a sigh of relief for my parents and me. We had an agreement not to ask her any questions unless she wants to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 175 .Spared believe in myself.

Mr. especially a woman’s body. Dr. compared to other fields in the medical field and he Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 176 . but she preferred not to talk about it ever again. Another discouragement was that it’s a low paying job. tried to talk her out of becoming a physical therapist because of the fact that it can be very hard on your body. She eventually did tell us what had happened in details. She was brushing up on her English and was elated that she can actually choose her major instead of having to settle with the one given to her by the University system in Iran. Neda was excited about the idea of leaving the country and soon we started the process of getting a passport and a visa for her to go to the United States.Spared share.

Mr. Dr. Mahnaz had plans of leaving l to the United States as well. They were a Jewish family. Her sister lived in Los Angeles and she planned on staying with her until she could start college. We had a goodbye party for Neda and invited all Neda friends and most of our family. and felt that if the Shah’s regime fails and if Ayatollah Khomeini will be the new Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 177 .Spared wanted Neda to be able to earn enough money so that she does not have to rely on a man for financial security as so many other women do in Iran. had some family in New York who agreed to have Neda over and watch over her until she gets signed up with a university and can live in the dorm. Soon after that we learned that Neda’s friend.

Neda left the country to United States. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 178 . On September 2 1978. but it was too late. First I was happy that I don’t have to put up with Neda and her grumpy attitude anymore. but soon I found myself missing her. life would be very difficult in a fanatic Islamic society. It was a very sad day for all of us.Spared elected leader. As a matter of fact Mahnaz’s whole family planned on migrating and moving away together. and I never got to tell her how lucky I was to have a sister like her.

Our school was determined to provide education to every student and to stay open as long as possible. My mom didn’t like that but she also didn’t want me to just stop going to school as protesting was not typically common in high schools. Leyla and I usually met up a few blocks away from school where her bus Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 179 .Spared Martial Law (Sep 1978) I continued to go to school as well as going to English proficiency classes. Leyla and I were walking to our high school one day. My closest friend.

. I would rather so that than ride public transportation and get molested in public and not be able to do anything about it. It just seemed easier to walk to school even though it was a very long walk. We were griping and complaining about the fact that almost all schools in Tehran are closed except for ours and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 180 . approximately 2 miles. At times it was common to get pinched or grabbed by men in a crowded bus or taxi and you wouldn’t know which one of the many men did it or which man to blame.Spared stop was and walk the rest of the way together. I would usually walk up to that point from my house. I preferred to walk instead of going in to a stinky bus or a taxi full of passengers.

One block away from school we noticed that the road was blocked and there were no cars going by which was very strange as it was a very busy intersection. what is happening? They are carrying rifles and guns now? I thought to myself. bullets or tanks. other military related automobiles. Wow. jeeps. Our teacher had told us regardless of what happens we were coming to school. The only cars going by were military trucks. Up until that time.Spared how unfair it was to still go to school. rain or shine. soldiers only carried batons and it was frightening Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 181 . and police. A guard was standing there with a very large rifle and I could see he also had a 9 mm on the right side of his waist and a baton on his left.

don’t worry. “No. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 182 . I don’t think we can go past him. Besides you heard what our teacher said.Spared to see they are carrying big. intimidating rifles. I slowed down holding on to Leyla’s arm to slow her down also. not for kids like us. the road is closed for cars. rain or shine…” said Leyla. the whole street is closed” I said with a lot of uncertainty in my voice. “Don’t go so fast. He was wearing a khaki uniform with big black boots and his khaki cap said Army. we have to be there.

than it is to prove we even showed up today. please.. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 183 . and I am the coward one? Leyla was known to take big chances as she was a risk taker and it made her parents very concerned and mad. Come on don’t be a chicken. “No it’s better to get to school and be told to go home. It was obvious that she got a certain amount of satisfaction out of being rebellious. I thought to myself why is it that Leyla is usually the brave one..?” I said trying to plea with Leyla. so let’s just go home. Have some courage girl” said Leyla.Spared “Don’t you think that even the teachers won’t be at school with this road block.

Several students we knew as friends and their relatives were arrested and thrown in the infamous Evin prison for things they didn’t even do. The soldiers were ordered to take anyone into custody who is working against the government and my parents didn’t want me to give them any excuses to throw me in jail which would surely lead to torture and even death.Spared My parents. They were accused of being a communist or belonging a political party other than our own government. Everyone knew what kind of brutal Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 184 . especially my mom. had advised me on a daily basis not to do anything against the government guards and the police and basically lay low and obey what they tell you so you could be safe.

plan or act against our government would be sent to Evin prison and most of them would never be back again. Anyone who would talk. The rumors of whipping with metal cables.Spared prison Evin was. electrocuting. nail pulling. Evin was nestled in the in the inner suburbs of North Tehran and famous for cruel and savage torturing of the political prisoners. It was the government’s goal to make it known to everyone that Evin will be the consequence of anyone’s action for any political movement. rape and group execution was known by everyone. Most of the prisoners never saw the daylight again and were executed after months or years of torture. Majority of these prisoners were young high school Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 185 .

“It is better to lose a friend than it is to lose your life”. just so I would not be confronted by an Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 186 . If I even saw a girl approaching me.Spared or college students. I remember having daily encounters with students who wanted me and my friends to join their political parties. They wanted us to attend meeting and gatherings. My Mom always told me when approached by people who are trying to get you to join their political party. I would always say no thank you and walk away. just walk away and basically do not have an opinion. I had learned just to start walking the other way. my mother said. promising that political party can change things for good..

If I had just been seen talking with these people would be enough for me to be accused of going against the government. Shideh who was only 17 years old. kicked.Spared invitation to join a group. It was hard. She was kicking and screaming trying to avoid being taken away. and sad knowing what life threatening risks they are taking for their political beliefs. Just a few weeks before. was taken out of her 12th grade class room by several guards. She was slapped. dragged by her hair and humiliated in front of everyone. When our principle tried to intervene she was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 187 . as I had gone to school with these girls for years. a student in my high school.

Spared told to stay out of it for her own good and if she interferes she would be taken in and thrown in prison herself. we will take you to Evin as well and you will never see your loved ones or even the daylight again. They also said there would be more arrests to come when they find out who else is involved. and if Shideh refused to talk. then they will torture her until she does. I feared because Shideh had come to me before asking me to join the meetings belonging to her communist Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 188 . They announced that Shideh was under arrest because she was an active member of the communist party trying to poison other students in to her communist web. They warned all of us that if we get involved in any political party.

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 189 . She was everything I never dared to be and was living vicariously thru her.Spared party and I had told her that I was not interested. I wondered if being seen talking with her would cause me to go to Evin prison too. she was just mouthy. otherwise they would prohibit me from being friends with her for good. Leyla didn’t have any strong political opinions. and rebellious with any authority figure. I never told my parents anything about how Leyla and what a risk taker she was. That thought was too frightening to even think about. I really enjoyed my friendship with Leyla and didn’t want to be told not to ever see her again.

She stood up in front of the guard with a lot of attitude and confidence in her posture and both hands on her waist. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 190 .Spared We proceeded to cross the yellow barricade that was stretched from one side of the street to the next. but Leyla was not affected the same way. what do you think you are doing.” said the guard with a very angry voice yelling at us. Ignoring all the signs that said “Do not cross” and “Road closed” and ducked under it when the guard was looking the other way. “Hey. are you stupid or blind? Get the hell out now. I got very frightened and ready to shut up and flee.

That was really stupid of her to do that. I could tell he was very angered by what Leyla said. From the look on the guard’s face. He had knots in between his eyebrows and his eyes looked like an angry bull ready to charge. Oh lord. She was known to get in to risky arguments with our teachers. I bet you haven’t even finished high school yourself. but knowing Leyla it didn’t surprise me at all. I thought to myself. Who is the stupid one now?” said Leyla in a sarcastic tone. That was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 191 . her parents.Spared “We have been told that no matter what happens we have to go to school and how dare you call us stupid. even with our principle and any other authority figure. we are dead.

but I knew I was very angry and I was trying to stand up for my friend. and I was worried sick about Leyla. I knew the guard would get angry but I really didn’t think he was going to hit her with such force in retaliation. I don’t know where I got the courage. “Are you an animal?” I said shouting and raising my hand to him in protest. He was standing there still holding Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 192 . I lost it when I saw her in so much pain and went up to the guard who was much bigger and taller than me. My blood was boiling. took it out of his belt loop and slammed it into Leyla’s back.Spared when the guard reached for his baton. Leyla let out a huge scream and fell to the ground and was moaning and squirming.

He pushed and shoved me on the ground next to Leyla. and before I was even finished with my sentence he slammed in to my right hand and pushed my hand out of the way with his baton. I felt and heard my thumb crunch. but didn’t hurt at all immediately. and we were going to get hurt by this vicious guard. I knew it was going to be bad.Spared the baton. He bent over looking right in to my eyes. Now both Leyla and I were lying on the ground staring at him above us looking like he was not done with us yet. I was thinking and praying as fast and as Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 193 . As he was bringing the baton down. Just like a slow motion film we saw his right hand go up raising the baton and got ready to bring it down to hit both of us again.

and grabbed his right hand in the air with his left hand to stop it from coming down. I felt like my mouth was saying things without me controlling it.Spared hard as I could. My god please don’t let us get beaten in middle of the street by this wild animal. to figure out a way to get out of this. Was that me who said that? Once again I could see in slow motion as he tried hard to stand himself up. I quickly shouted out “I’m General Noori’s daughter” as I blocked my face with my arms to avoid getting hit by the baton. and hitting us. The baton came so close to my face and then it made a detour and went back Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 194 .

swallowed. but Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 195 . Up to that point I was just holding my breath waiting for the baton to hit me. and said ”I am General Aram Noori’s daughter. He stood there holding the baton on top of his head. the director of Tehran’s army hospital. Quickly he grabbed our arms and picked us off the ground and I could tell he was very scared and nervous. who is also an orthopedic surgeon. “What did you say?” said the guard with fear in his face.” He threw his baton down on the ground as if it burned his hands. Leyla looked so relieved and confused at the same time. His face looked like he just saw a ghost.Spared up again. so I let all my breath out.

He must have apologized a hundred times about this terrible mistake and said that he would do anything to make that up to us. the general’s daughter. It was very obvious that he recognized my father as his superior and was badly shaken up and sorry knowing the consequence of injuring me.Spared you could tell her back was badly injured. He brought us into a khaki colored army tent and asked us to just relax and he will be right back. He had done countless free surgeries for the needy. My father was a very influential man being one of the general’s in the army. but he was also a very kind man who had helped many poor people as a doctor and a humanitarian. The tent was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 196 .

Spared opened to the street, so we felt safe. I contemplated with the thought of running away and if it was necessary at that point. However, Leyla and I were not in good shape to run anywhere and it also felt like the worst part was over. Looking out the tent opening, I could see the travel agency with colorful pictures of London, Paris and the Eiffel tower and New York. Advertising for tours were all over their window. This place was very familiar to me as I walked right by it every day to get to school. In the tent there were wooden boxes full of long golden colored bullets and big black rifles and some small ones too. I wondered what kind of firearms these very long bullets go with as they looked
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Spared large enough to kill an elephant. It was mind boggling to imagine how many people these bullets can kill. It dawned on me that they weren’t just planning on scaring people away and they must be willing to kill the protestors if they have to. Wow that was a very rude awakening for me to realize that protesting is a very serious and dangerous thing to do. There were also gas masks and other protective gear they must have needed to fight back protesters. There was an old wooden desk, with chairs around it. On the desk there were several walkie talkies that went off every few second and we could hear guards talking to each other about what was going on the streets. There was also an
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Spared ashtray full of cigarette butts and a note book. The whole tent smelled like men with dirty feet, and sweat. The nosy side of me wanted to get up and explore, but the pain in my thumb was slowly getting worse as the adrenaline was going away in my system. My whole thumb was inflamed and swelling and I knew it was broken. Leyla was not doing that great herself either as she was moaning continuously. “My thanks To General Noori and you Nastaran, you saved us. I’m so glad you remembered to mention who your dad is. That was genius. We could have been killed by that idiot guard and no one would have known. I have heard stories about people who mysteriously disappear and their
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Spared families never find their bodies because they would throw your body out somewhere where nobody can find it, and …….” Leyla was going on and on, but she was interrupted by 4 men arriving in to our tent. There was one man who looked to be a much higher rank than the guard that was beating us, and 3 other soldiers, including the vicious one right behind him standing in a salute position. “At ease” Said the officer to the guards, and they dropped their saluting hands and stood there in attention pose. “My name is officer Najafi, and I am sincerely very regretful about what happened today. I cannot begin to tell you how sorry we all are about this really unfortunate
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Spared incident. The guard who attacked you will be properly punished and we will make sure the 2 of you get home safely by army provided escort. I will personally apologize to General Noori myself, and hope that he can forgive the ignorant guard.” As soon as officer Najafi mentioned General Noori the guards would salute again. I could not help but feel so sorry for the guard, even though he caused us such physical harm. I certainly didn’t want him to get punished too hard. The vicious guard was told to go and get ice for my thumb and for Leyla’s back. Before he left the tent, he asked us if we wanted to be taken
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Spared to the hospital or not and we said no because we just wanted to go home. “I will call General Noori for orders as to what he would like us to do at this point, take you both to the hospital or take you home. So I will leave you now and will make a phone call to your father myself.” He told one of the 3 guards to stand in front of the tent for protection. A different guard brought us 2 plastic bags with crushed ice in it. He also brought us 2 cups of tea with some cubed sugar, and placed it in front of us on the old table. We never touched the tea, because we were more interested in the pain relief the ice pack provided. I helped Leyla place the ice between
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Spared the chair and her back and lean on it. I just held the ice pack against my thumb which by now was in a lot of pain, swollen and blue looking. After about twenty minutes or so, Officer Najafi came back into the tent again and turned to me.

“I just got thru speaking to your father, General Noori and explained this mix up and the unfortunate situation and he gave me orders to take you to his place of work to personally examine your thumb as soon as possible. The General would also like us to make sure your friend is escorted home by the army jeep as well, unless Miss Leyla
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Spared would prefer for her back to be examined as well. Are you both ready to leave now?” Oh that sounded like such relief to be going home finally. I looked at Leyla to see if she is OK with that plan and realized there was no word exchange necessary. She had yes written all over her face. Leyla had a smile from one ear to the other but she did say that she was not in need of any medical help and just wanted to go home. She forgot all about her bad back and held her purse and back pack and looked like she was ready to jump in the jeep. Well we didn’t waste any time and before we knew it we were in the army jeep driving away in the deserted streets of Tehran until we
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Spared came to the end of the road closure. The traffic on the other side of the closed road was ugly and cars were honking at each other and taxi drivers yelling out at the other cars and lots of profanity was flying in the air. In midst of all this craziness there were people trying to get from one side of the street to another and zigzagging in front of the cars making it even harder to get by. Everyone seemed mad and stressed out, a lot more than usual. The stress of closing a major junction was creating havoc on people. At that point the driver activated the sirens and flashing lights to get thru the thick traffic. The siren sounded like the police sirens,
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Spared was very painful on our ears and was very loud and obnoxious. I was dropped off first at the hospital where my dad worked since the army hospital was closer. Leyla was then dropped off to her house next. I wished I could go to my house also but you didn’t have to be a doctor to know that my thumb needed immediate attention. I was escorted to my dad’s office by the soldier who was also the driver of the jeep. We passed thru a squeaky clean hall way with vaulted ceilings in the reception area. It was so big that you could hear our footsteps echo. Then we passed thru another hall way with numerous rooms that had different plaques on the
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Spared wall by the doors for identification, such as doctors/colonel, doctor/major general, doctor/Lieutenant general, and many more. We finally made it to my father’s office and that was when I realized he had the biggest office in that building. As we arrived the soldier who escorted me, stood in a loud boot clicking and salute position. Mr. Dr. was on the phone when I got there. He gave me a sign that I’ll be off the phone in a minute and motioned the soldier at ease and leave. The soldier turned one step back clicked his boots together again and left. I had hardly ever gone to visit his work for any reason and was blown away by his office and how impressive yet intimidating it looked
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Spared because of how organized everything was. There was a picture of Shah hanging on the wall behind his desk. On his desk I could also see pictures of my Mom, my sister and I in the corner nicely framed. It made me feel so very special to see that I made it to his very important desk top. There were other items such as Iranian flag, a black rotary phone, as well as a red phone, big pile of papers, and a plaque that said ”General Doctor Aram Noori.” His office was simple yet elegant with beautiful furniture. In the left corner of his office there was a coat hanger which held his long black military coat with 4 shiny golden stars on each of the shoulders. They presented the General’s insignia on his coat. His coat
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The lion and the sun were also visible on our flag at the time of shah. which represented the emblem of Persia dated back to 1423. Right above it sat his military hat with a shiny black plastic looking material in the front of it. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 209 .Spared nicely hung on a wooden hanger in the corner of the room. which also had the same 4 shiny golden stars as well as a round golden button that had the lion holding a sword with the sun behind it.

It was amazing Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 210 . framed and hung on the walls also. his surgeon certification. his orthopedic surgery specialty certification. and all his medals nicely framed and hanging.Spared His office walls were covered with his so many credentials of his medical Doctor degree. There were also numerous ranks that he had earned before he was a general.

My father hung up the phone and gave me a bear hug. Let’s look at your thumb now” said Mr. and sorry I wasn’t able to warn you about it. It is around the corner. why don’t we go to my examination room. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 211 . Dr.Spared to see all the certificates hanging on the wall were equally spaced apart as if someone purposely measured all the distances. with such tenderness in his voice. “I can’t see a thing in this lighting. and we are usually not the first layer of authority to get notified of these things. you have never been there have you?” said my father. “I’m so sorry to hear what happened today. because you know I work as the director of the army hospital.

Dr. He asked me to stay while he gets out of his uniform and in to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 212 . We finally reached the medical building. and it is so impressive how soldiers mind you. and after passing many more saluting soldiers we finally got to his examination room.” I said to Mr. and plain white walls. He gave me a big smile as we left his office. The noises of clicking boots were echoing everywhere. and my dad would motion at ease by nodding his head frequently.Spared “No I have never even been in this building before. It is very cool to see what it is like. We continued walking thru the same squeaky clean hall ways with shiny cement floors. Every time someone passed by us they would stand saluting and clicking their boots.

Another jar was holding a huge yellow rock looking object which was approximately the size of 3 baseballs stuck together. full of things which I could not clearly see from that far. I sat on the patient table just fascinated by all the stuff in his exam room. There were also jars with much smaller and younger fetuses floating in the same yellow fluid. I immediately recognized Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 213 . There was a big glass cabinet which was about 5 feet tall that held some strange jars which were fluid filled. I jumped down and walked closer to see what those things are and was blown away by what I saw.Spared his lab coat. There was a preserved fetus in a fetal position which seemed to be very premature measuring only two inches.

My dad gladly took the patient under his wings.Spared what that was and where it came from. performed the surgery for him for free. but never got to see what the kidney Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 214 . and he just wanted to keep that. He was unable to work and lived in severe pain every day. Mr. Dr. I witnessed my dad interacting with the same patient years ago. That kidney stone was one unusual and incredibly large stone. and the only thing he asked for return was the kidney stone. had once surgically removed a kidney stone for a poor farmer in Sanandaj who had no money to pay for the surgery. He was rejected by several other doctors because he didn’t have any money to pay for the operation and was left to die.

which looked like it could easily break. which used to be boiled and reused on all patients. as well as a healthy femur bone for comparison to encourage his patients to eat more dairy product.Spared stone looked like. and he was the only bread winner in his family of 10. There were also a few antique items such as a very large syringe made of metal and glass. He knew the farmer would be unable to work for a while. dated back to mid 1800’s. In the same glass cabinet he also had samples of osteoporotic femur bones cut in half length wise. and increase calcium intake. The needle was so large Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 215 . He even gave plenty of money to the poor farmer to live on until he was back on his feet.

had changed in to a long white lab coat. Mr. Dr. An old black leather doctor’s bag which looked cracked and heavily used.Spared and scary looking. an old rusted stethoscope. I sat back on the exam table and my dad started to examine my thumb. old water pitcher and basin which I had only seen in the western movies were also taking up space in that cabinet. “So how is my dear daughter handling the pain of the broken thumb?” Said Mr. I was so mesmerized by seeing all the stuff in my step dad’s exam room that I almost didn’t hear my dad coming back with his male technician. Dr. but I could see he was still wearing the same khaki army pants. as he was examining my thumb Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 216 .

“Ouch. He looked up at me as if thinking to himself “Hello! I’m only an orthopedic surgeon and a specialist. Dr.Spared by moving it back and forth. Besides it is a hair line fracture and it will heal quickly.” “Does Mom know anything about what has happened to me today?” I asked Mr. Dr. leave that part to me to diagnose and fix you up really good and you just sit back and relax. it hurts really bad when you do that. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 217 . and how do you know it’s broken any way?” I said to Mr. that‘s all!” “Of course I know how to spot a fracture when I see one. please don’t move it.

That way it has all been done and she will worry less” said my father. are you kidding me? You know how upset she gets if anything happens to you girls. “Mr. but somehow I still Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 218 . but may I please ask what will happen to the guard who hit us? I know he shouldn’t have beaten us with his baton. you may think I am weird. She freaks out at the slightest risk for danger or anything that concerns you girls.Spared “Oh no. I’ll have the driver take you home once I fix your finger. especially after what happened to your sister at her university.. At times she doesn’t even have to have reason to worry about anything but still she worries about things that have not even happened yet. Dr.

That kind of beating was not at all necessary considering you both were high school girls. you do have a big heart and I appreciate your forgiveness spirit for this guard. with no weapons or no threats to anyone.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 219 .Spared don’t want him to be severely punished. He was doing his job after all. But don’t worry I will make sure he does not get any punishment he does not deserve. and I fear what will happen to him” I said to my dad. Still it is the army’s duty to see to it that he gets some kind of consequence for over reacting and putting your lives at danger. “You know.

My Mom opened the door. and as soon as she saw my finger she freaked out. “Oh my god in heaven. I have to call your father….” said my mom as she was going Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 220 .Spared I thanked him and in less than an hour I was all braced and bandaged up and was taken home by the driver. and hoped for the best as I rang our bell. what happened to you? Did you get into any protesting? Who did this to you? How are you? Are you hurt anywhere else? When did this happen? I told you not to even get close to these protestors. you can get killed or sent to Evin prison and I’ll never see you again. My heart was racing because I knew how mom can react.

spiraling down the negativity and anxiety path. Leyla and I accidently got to this area which we were not supposed to go. this is nothing bad.Spared on and on 100 miles an hour. I am coming from dad’s office where he fixed it for me. I had to grab her by her shoulders and say. please calm down. “Mom. dad is working on that already and I am fine. close to the high school and the guard attacked us. I really am. It is just a minor injury. Please don’t over react. I’m OK. Can you please breathe a little slower and calm down?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 221 .

but is there something I can do to make you feel Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 222 . There is not much of anything that we can do to change the situation. I wanted her to know that I am listening if she wants to talk.Spared My mom’s face looked a little bit more relaxed and I helped her sit down as I went to the kitchen to get her some cold water and a hot cup of tea. with all that has been happening with Neda and I today you must be feeling very insecure. “Mom. I sat down and tried to see what I can do to make her feel better. I know lately. It was pretty obvious that she was crying. When I came back from the kitchen I was surprised to see my Mom crying and hiding her face so I could not see her tears.

I want you to get a good education and you can’t get that if you stayed in Iran.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 223 . I just know it. I’m also thinking perhaps I have to send you out of the country as well. I fear the day someone would tell me that you had gotten killed in these damn demonstrations.Spared better? Are you sad because Neda is gone or are you just scared about me? Is there anything else that you want to talk about?” Mom started to cry out loud and opened her arms for a hug. Tehran is just not safe for anyone to be. She finally stopped long enough to say “Losing your sister was very difficult. even though we didn’t get along much I know she will never come back to live in Iran. I went over to her and hugged her.

Spared “Mom. I understand you want me to go out of the country as well. Dr. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 224 . Please Mom. You don’t know how much I want to get a nursing degree and work with Mr. Please don’t talk like that. “Please don’t send me out Mom. she is just gone temporarily to get a better education and she will be back before you know it. you talk as if Neda is dead. but I really have my heart set on going to Sari and get a degree in Nursing from the Mazandaran University of Medical Science.” I said trying to stop my mom from worrying and change her mind from sending me out of the country to finish my education.

Spared “I would love to have you stay here with us.” “Your hopes and dreams are important to me also. but at the same time please understand my hopes and dreams of going to college in Sari as well. Please understand my position as a mother. I am not willing to keep you in Iran if it gets any more dangerous than it is already. What I want you to do is pass the English proficiency test just in case things get so bad and I have to send you out of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 225 . please don’t get me wrong. but as a mother I also have to protect you. whatever you say.” “OK mom.

with no exceptions. Even if you didn’t end up leaving. I was going to try to help and stay home as much as possible. I will do that.Spared the country. That same evening it was announced on TV that now all educational centers from kindergartens to universities were finally closed indefinitely.” “OK mom. You know they only take students who have higher than average scores in English. Please do this one thing for me. Private classes and test centers remained open Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 226 . it would be great for Konkoor.” Mom was smiling again and I was reassured that she is feeling much better.

sleeping in. But after a while when we all got tired of playing around. My first reaction was elation. and other activities. cake decoration. My mom wanted to make sure that I will be able to have a smoother transition if I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 227 . and sewing to battle the boredom. typing. So with the persuasion of my mother I signed up for an English proficiency test to polish my English. we started looking for something to do. No school was music to all of student’s ears. this is the coolest thing that could have happened.Spared to public. learning different languages. My friends signed up for a varieties of different classes such as knitting. Somehow the knitting and cake decoration did not seem so appealing to me.

were so adamant about taking this course. This class was designed to strengthen English conversation skills. We were learning all bout English grammar at school. The course was about 4 weeks long. Knowing how to speak English was more important than knowing the grammar and many agencies who helped parents find colleges abroad were requesting to have the English proficiency certification.Spared had to be sent out of the country like Neda was If the situation got worse to continue my education out of the country. dr. and I had my final tests at the end on 9/10/1978. but were not really strong in conversation. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 228 . That was the reason my mom and Mr.

He ordered the release of a few political prisoners from the Evin prison in hopes of calming the demonstrations down and gain back people’s trust. Shah tried to practice a different tactic to show people he is a fair and understanding shah. Then shah fired the head of the Iranian secret service. and massive protesting waves filled every street of large cities in Iran. However that only irritated people after hearing what atrocious tortures has been done to him and other prisoners. The tactics that once helped to fight back demonstrations and rioters was no longer working. the country was turned upside down. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 229 . so shah had to do something else.Spared After closing all educational centers.

Spared Savak, and also promised people that we will have free elections in the following month of June, which did very little in appeasing the public. In midst of all this there was an incident where 400 people were trapped and burned to death in a movie theatre in an oil rich city called “Abadan” in the south of Iran. Although the responsible party for the murder of those 400 people was never found, somehow people blamed shah for that, which added to fueling of the hate and disgust. After that even more people were out in the street shouting “Death to Shah”. Shah was getting more and more defeated by the ever growing waves of demonstrators not only screaming “Death to shah”, but
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Spared demanding that Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran, and be the new leader. This was definitely a slap in the face for shah. Discouraged from any help from United States, shah found himself in the corner, and in desperation he did the only other thing left to do, which was to declare “Martial law” in Tehran and 11 other cities late in the evening of 9/7/1978. Declaring Martial law made any protesting against the government illegal and punishable by use of deadly forces. Gathering of any groups of more than 3 people in the public was prohibited and punishable by on the spot execution without trial. Martial law is usually declared at the time of war or whenever the civil authority is broken down. Military was
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Spared reinforced with as many personnel as possible to deal with any upheaval with maximum aggressiveness. A part of shah was confident that Martial law would be an end all tactic, because he had declared Martial law another time in 1953 over increasing oppositions of anti shah and anti United States forces. It proved to be effective then as it put an end to the upheaval at that time, and he was hopeful it will be effective again. They also declared a curfew for all the major cities as well. They warned people, anyone going out after 8 pm and before 5 AM will be subject to being killed on the spot execution style as well. Other than military forces or the police no one else is allowed to be out at night for any
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Spared reasons. Road blocks were set all over Tehran to help monitoring people in every street corner, even in the residential areas. On Thursday 9/7/1978 I had my final class session for English proficiency program, and our final test was set to be on Monday 9/10/1978. However, due to all the protesting there was reason to fear that they would be forced to close the institute. Most educational institutions were forced to close, and they worried that they would be next. A decision was made to have the final test the day after which was Friday morning, September 8. It was unusual because Friday is the weekend for people in Iran, but due to the
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Spared uncertainty of being shut down forced them to make the decision to stay open on Friday and ensure all students get their certifications. That night we heard the news on the television that the country was under martial law. Mr. Dr. already knew it was going to be announced and told my mom and me a few days back about it. In an effort to relieve our anxiety, he explained to us that it basically discourages and prohibits people from getting into protesting by punishing any groups of 3 or more. I had never heard of that, and neither did my mom and we were both frightened. We all huddled around the television with our eyes glued to the screen in an amazement of what is happening to our
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Spared country. This was history in the making. The announcers were speaking very seriously discouraging people from challenging the system, by saying: “This is not a joke, this is for real, anyone who will be out in the streets other than armed forces, authorized personnel, or the police, will be captured and executed without any trial”. Hour by hour, news came on the television reminding people about the Martial law and the curfew, and threatening people not to take that lightly. I remember the window in my room was open to the street, and I went to close it since it was already dark outside. My mom came in the room to see what I was
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Spared doing. To be funny, I stuck my finger out the window, and told my mom: “Do you think they will shoot my finger off if I stuck it out the window because of the curfew?” “Get your finger back inside. Are you crazy? Why would you do something like that? Are you trying to get yourself killed? Did you not hear that this was a very scary and serious situation to be in?” “I was just kidding mom, really, didn’t mean to make you upset.”

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Spared “Some things you just never joke about and this is certainly one of them.” Said my mom as she exited the room still looking upset. I closed the window in a hurry and went back to the living room and tried not to cause any more trouble. I could tell she is really upset and worried about me. My mother said, “Oh my god, I almost forgot, Nastaran has her final exam tomorrow before she is certified in English proficiency course. What is she going to do? Do you think it is ok for her to go or should I keep her at home?”. “Honey, the only way she is going to get herself killed is to and join some political party or protesting against the
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Spared government, so don’t worry about it. We both know that Nastaran is not like that, and has no ambitions of putting herself or her family in jeopardy. You know that this exam is very important and if she goes straight to the class and come right back she will be alright. The curfew will not be in effect until 8 pm, everything will be ok Mehri”. Said Mr. Dr. with a reassuring smile on his face. Then he turned to me and said: “Remember to mind your own business; don’t even talk to anyone in the street, and don’t worry about being rude. As soon as the class is over, get a private taxi and come
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Spared back home immediately.” I nodded my head yes, but I was so very scared of being in the public for any reasons. “But I am so scared; do I really need this certification? I mean, I already know all the material. You can test me on that, is it really necessary that I take the final exam?” I said with shaky voice. “Yes, it is absolutely necessary, because you have to prove that you know all the material and you need to get that certification. Besides, if this regime is going to be defeated and the situation gets more unsafe, we need this certification to get you signed up with good schools. If you don’t have
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Spared the certification you will be very limited on the number of schools who will accept you.” Said Mr. Dr.

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Spared

CHAPTER THREE Black Friday (Sep 8, 1978)

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings
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Spared given to us to learn from.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross quotes Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 242 .

1978. Not everyone had the skills to pass this level of proficiency. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning of September 8. to take my English proficiency test.Spared Zhaleh Square. My mom was still asleep and I was hoping she would not wake up because she always had Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 243 . I envied all the students who were still in their nice warm beds and didn’t have to take this stupid test. I guess it was something to be proud of and I reminded myself to be happy and grateful about it. As I rolled out of bed.

“I am not sure anymore if this is a good idea to send you out of the house today and I know I wanted you to make sure you have your certificate in English. but I am really Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 244 . I was not familiar with the location of the testing place. I knew it was in downtown. She always had to say a few prayers before I left. as I was getting ready to go out of the house my mother woke up as well. as it was different than the class location and in a part of town I had never been in. in the south of Tehran which was an industrial and fairly poor part of town.Spared problems with insomnia and would usually toss and turn until 2 or 3 in the morning. However. and that day she said a few more than usual.

trying hard to give her all the reassurance I could. We all Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 245 . I’ll be fine.” I replied. “Mom don’t start that again. so this was a normal routine for me. Mom was a well known worry wart who worried about everything and anything. My mom had the ability to foresee the future either by dreaming about it or just have a strong gut feeling. I promise I’ll take a taxi straight to the place and come right back as soon as the test is done I really promise to be safe.Spared worried about you. Please don’t worry yourself too much. I just don’t have a good feeling about it” My mother said with so much anxiety in her face.

Mom was pacing the floor and ringing her hands and reciting a prayer and then blowing air in my face. so she relied on her dreams a lot. which was a very religious gesture. Radio and television announced daily shootings. This ritual is done by filling your mouth with air as you recite the verbs and prayers from the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 246 . There was a revolution taking place in the whole country. She had every right to be worried. and executions on a daily basis. explosions.Spared knew she had certain dreams about something bad happening and the dreams were accurate. so she did have justifiable reasons to worry about. Just a few weeks back the Rex Cinema incident took place killing 400 people.

but when it came to worrying. so I let her Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 247 . I think you are overdoing it. but I didn’t have the heart. but more so that morning. she utilized everything and anything making sure we were protected.Spared wholly book of Koran which was in Arabic. It is ironic because she was not a religious person. She did this almost every day before I got out of the house. and sending it to the receiving party by blowing the prayer filled breath to the face of the receiver. because I knew she meant well. This was to protect me from any danger throughout the day. I must have been blown in the face four or five times. I really wanted to tell her to stop it now. In a way it reduced her anxiety more than it actually gave me protection.

There is usually a crowd of people who are each yelling out their destinations to the taxi’s that are passing by slowly. and gave me a big lump of money. and she insisted that I get a private taxi for both going to. She grabbed her wallet. and coming back. and you are sure to pay at least triple the price as well. Having a private taxi also assures you that no other passenger will be picked up along the way. It was more money than the usual taxi money. and you have the whole taxi to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 248 . but by yelling out ”Private taxi” it is almost a sure way to get a taxi fast. Anyone is able to get a private taxi by yelling out “Private taxi” when you see a taxi cabs go by.Spared do it as many times as she needed to.

I put on the sweater that I took with me as it was very cold that morning. The city looked so breath taking and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 249 . It was worth it for my mom to pay more to get more reassurance. and as she rose she illuminated the entire city of Tehran with her warmth. As I was walking away I could still see her mouth moving and blowing.Spared yourself. and bright light. My mom followed me to the street curb never stopping her Koran recital. It seemed like the sun was just slowly waking up just behind mount Damavand snowy peak. I knew I had to hurry up as the test started at 7:00 AM. I was relieved to finally leave because I was getting very frustrated with my mom’s anxiety. Finally I was able to leave the house.

I always enjoyed it.312 ft tall”. as well as the highest volcano in all of Asia. “Mount Damavand is a dormant volcano. Damavand is 15. and caressed my hair gently off my face. The crisp. morning air blew into my face. Damavand’s snowy peak is visible all year round from anywhere in Tehran.Spared peaceful at that very moment. and the tallest peak in Iran. It was hard to believe that our country was going thru such turmoil. fall. Everything was so fresh and new as if nature is giving everyone a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 250 . There was something magical and full of hope in the air. As much as I hated waking up that early.

During migration. It reminded me that winter snow will follow soon. Snow fall usually started between September and October. and we have the perfect four seasons. I lifted my head and saw them all flying in a group to migrate to a warm destination. Tehran’s elevation is 1200 Meters which is equivalent of 3900 feet.Spared second chance to do things right and is given us a chance to have a better day than yesterday or the days before. sparrows would usually all fly together for a while and then all choose a certain tree to sit Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 251 . It felt so good and it gave me goose bumps. which was so very pleasant. The sound of hundreds of sparrows flying over my head snapped me out of my thoughts.

A part of me was still very fearful of the martial law and how it has affected the situation out in the streets. Soon I had to stop reading because I was getting car sick. After 10 or 15 minutes of rest on the branches of trees. I would get Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 252 .Spared on. As I approached the main street I had no problem getting a private taxi. they would all fly away again. I tried to review my test material in the taxi to cram as much as possible before the test. It was yet again another reminder that cold winter is on its way. except for the number of military guards in the street. You can see literally thousands of them sitting on one particular tree chirping in an ear piercing fashion. Nothing really seemed out of the ordinary.

So I cranked open the old back seat window of this orange colored taxi cab in hopes of not getting car sick. They would promote their items in a loud voice trying to outsell the competition. “Big. so I need the window down.Spared car sick so fast if I ever tried to read anything in the car. Some stores were just opening their roll up metal shutters that blocked the entire store at the closing time. The cab stunk like old cigarette butts. plump and juicy Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 253 . I was watching the venders in the street finish setting up to sell their goods. The fruit stands were laying out their fruits right out of their store into large containers on the side walk. I watched the streets go by out the window in order to take my mind off the car sickness.

From the corner of my eyes I could see the taxi driver staring at me in the mirror. flaky and delicious straight from the Caspian Sea. Another vender would yell out: “White fish. white fish. straight from Shahsavar” yelled a vendor (Shahsavar is a town in the North of Iran famous for its citrus fruits. I felt very grateful and spoiled after seeing how hard they work. as it is a sign that I might be Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 254 . and we got it.Spared oranges.” Wow. I was amazed of how early people are out there trying to earn a living. but I knew better not make any eye contact with a strange man. you want it.

and as a result the air pollution was a real problem. I had to pull up my window to avoid that. Pretty soon we found ourselves behind a very large public transit bus that was forcing a huge cloud of black smoke up in the air from its exhaust.Spared interested. and the look of buildings and people was starting to scare me. Cars. The usual air pollution in Tehran was bad enough. but the smell of cigarette butts was still more tolerable than the smoke from the bus. trucks and busses were not regulated by the government enough to ensure cleaner air in Iran. I had never Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 255 . I just kept on looking outside and pretend like I didn’t notice. I could tell that we were getting deeper and deeper in to the southern part of town.

He pointed to an old 4 or 5 story tall building that had white marble exterior which Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 256 . because I was told this place was just off of Zhaleh square. “Are you sure this is the right place? I don’t’ want to be lost!” I said with quivering voice.Spared been to that part of town before. We finally approached Zhaleh square. It took us about 45 anxiety provoking minutes to get there. “Here we go” said the ugly looking taxi driver as he stopped the taxi. I also showed him the address written on a piece of paper. and I knew I had to be close to my destination.

and the smoke from all the cars going by it had stained it to almost a darker grey color. I live around the corner from here and that building is where young folks like yourself go to take English lessons”. smiling mischievously at me showing his black and yellow unbrushed teeth. There was graffiti on the walls of the building that said “Death to shah” in black paint. It was obvious that they had tried to cover it up with red Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 257 . Said the taxi driver. I got very grossed out by his teeth. The white marble looked as though it had seen many years. as he checked me out. “Yes this is it. but I paid him the fare money and approached the dirty old building. you won’t get lost.Spared only covered thru the 3rd floor.

I was so Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 258 . I went upstairs to the 3rd floor. There were a large number of highs school age boys on the 2nd floor. Once I was checked in. and it made perfect sense that boys had their own class on the 2nd floor. I was surprised to see lots of other people in every floor of the building. as I entered the class room. I found Leyla very quickly who was also taking the same test. The class I was enrolled in was for girls only.Spared paint. but had no idea why they were doing there on Friday which is supposed to be the day off. but it was still pretty clear what the graffiti words read. and was able to check in and find my classroom very quickly. which made me think that they may be having the English proficiency test as well.

but in reality I was just so happy to see a familiar face. ha ha ha ha…. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 259 . it seems like the kettle is calling the pot black. I laughed and made fun of her for sitting in such crooked way. She looked like she was sitting in an awkward position as if she was in pain.” said Leyla carrying on and made fun of my broken thumb in a short hand brace my dad had put on for me which was broken by the same vicious guard. and thought it was hilarious.Spared happy to see a familiar face. but soon found out it was because of the back injury caused by that vicious guard who hit her with a baton a couple of weeks ago. “You are laughing at me? What about you and your fat thumb.

making great money. and living in my own house. feeling great. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 260 .Spared Soon we were told to sit down. our teacher was on his way. That was not an easy task as my mind wanted to fly away to fantasize about being a nurse with my white uniform and my little white cap. Our teacher was an old boring man whose breath stunk like cigarettes. I was pretty confident that I was going to do well as English was one of my best subjects and I had studied very hard. I was hoping that I pass this proficiency test which was supposedly so important in my preparation for “Konkoor” as well as an effective gate opener if I had to leave the country. The tests were handed out and I was trying my best to concentrate.

It was Leyla trying to wake me up as she knew I daydreamed a lot.Spared Aaaaahhhhh that was so vivid. I started looking at my test material. but I felt a hard kick on my chair that snapped me out of it. The air was so fresh and the window to the street was wide open. I looked over to Leyla. Leyla and I proceeded to go out in the hall way. and realized Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 261 . and could tell she was doing great as she had a big smile on her face too. and I went thru the questions with a grand sense of victory. and was extremely happy to see I knew the answers to almost all of the questions. First hour went by without any problems and we were told to stop the test for a break. The breeze felt so good.

what do you think we are going to do with our lives? Are we going to be college girls or married soon? I want so much to be married to Sina. Leyla had purposely answered all questions wrong in order to be disqualified for leaving the country to continue her education. I’m Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 262 . and sipped on it as we compared our questions and answers.Spared that they had a very small kitchen on the same floor that sold hot tea and small pastries. “Nastaran. and I don’t care if I ever go to college or not as long as I can be married to him. We bought 2 cups of tea. She wanted to stay in Iran with all her might despite her parent’s persuasion to send her out and away from Sina.

but what do you think you guys are going to live on even if you were to get your parents full blessing. “My parents think they are so smart by forcing me to take this stupid test. and marry him today? He Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 263 .Spared sure I’ll get a zero in my test” said Leyla giggling away as if she was very happy and proud of it. “Leyla. I’m not agreeing with your parents. so they can send me out of the country? I’ll show them. It’ll be fun to see their reaction when they see I got a score of zero” said Leyla with a sarcastic deep seeded anger in her voice which she has been harboring ever since she was beaten with the belt.

“Yes I promise. you need money for everything. and what we eat as long as we are together. Besides I know he is really smart and will get a good paying job soon. what is it. how is he going to support you? You are barely out of high school yourself. that is all I want. and fear in her eyes. If I told you a secret would you promise never to repeat it to anyone? And I mean anyone?” said Leyla with a serious tone in her voice. That was very strange as I had never seen any fear in Leyla before. tell me” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 264 . and I don’t care where we live. have you thought about those things?” “All we need is love.Spared does not even have a job.

and then covered my mouth in fear of attracting anyone’s attention. “You have really lost your mind this time. He paid someone to make a fake birth certificate for me showing I am 18 years old.” I let out a loud AH in disbelief.Spared “Sina and I have decided to run away together to the south of Iran and get married. do you know what a crazy idea this is?” “It might be a crazy idea. I heard the rules for marriage are a bit more lax down there. but my parents have left us no choice at all. If I have to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 265 . found or stopped. and I cannot live without Sina. so I cannot be tracked.

You promise?” I nodded my head yes. then that is what we have to do. Promise me even if they came to you asking if you know. you have to act dumb and say you had no clue. but she looked around and made sure no one else was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 266 . I felt guilty and confused already worrying that by lying to her parents about her whereabouts. I am going to get ready to sneak out of the house tomorrow night. We have tickets to a bus that leaves at 5 am. I would be contributing to this conspiracy. Then Leyla took something out of her side pocket to show me.Spared runaway to ensure I will be able to marry him. As soon as this stupid test is done. but deep inside I didn’t know if I can actually lie to her parents.

Spared watching. please just listen until I am done talking. I don’t’ think god minds if I like Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 267 . and she has a halo around her head. “Ok. I know what you are thinking. On the same card there was the Hail Mary prayer written in English. I know I am a Muslim. She swears that whatever she has ever prayed for. but please just listen to me. She had a card like picture of Virgin Mary in her hand. but I don’t think god minds if I pray to a holy woman like Virgin Mary. Mary’s face was painted beautifully on the card with her eyes closed. has came thru if she repeats Hail Mary prayer 7 times a day for 7 days in a row. I have an Armenian girlfriend who is catholic.

and finally decided to file for divorce. After saying the Hail Mary for 7 days.Spared being a Christian more than being a Muslim. but have faith that it will be ok. it is amazing. they got back together again. I put the prayer to work and he walked out of the hospital on his own feet. Remember when my brother was hit by a car? Doctors told us he may end up on a wheel chair for the rest of his life. I have been praying for 7 days now for a safe and good outcome after I run away. and decided not to get a divorce. My friend said her parents were fighting all the time.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 268 . and we will finally be together. I am nervous. No crutches or wheel chair! It really works Nastaran.

Sina knew that and supported her in practicing whatever religion she likes to follow. I was just very scared for her and couldn’t see how god will help you to do the wrong thing. even if god itself came Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 269 . I had heard so many bad stories about girls just like Leyla who run away from home in the name of love. only to be found later raped and killed. but believed in the power of prayers myself. which she was very good at hiding. I knew this was an argument no one can win with Leyla.Spared I have to admit I was very skeptical. He had bought her a cross for her birthday. She had told me about the fact that she likes being a Christian but her parents would have killed her if she admitted to that.

A man with a very loud voice in the hall way announced that we should go back to the testing rooms now. She was so blindly in love that she refused to consider any one else’s view. It Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 270 . I couldn’t stop thinking about the consequences of running away she will have to face. As we entered the class room again. we could hear a humming sound coming from the streets below which was very familiar but frightening to me. We drank the rest of our tea quickly and ran back to the classroom. and it was very typical those days. logic or wisdom on this issue.Spared down to earth and told her she was making a big mistake. she would tell god that he was wrong about this one.

After everyone was back in their seats. but the humming was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 271 . Leyla and I wanted to see what’s going on also. he closed the windows to help us concentrate on the test. and passed the test papers to us.Spared was the sound of people demonstrating in the streets. Our teacher told everyone to get away from the window and sit in your assigned seats. I could tell this humming noise was coming from a very large crowd of people who were reciting political slogans against shah and his regime. but there was no room to get a glimpse. and all the students were piled up on top of each other trying to see if they can watch what’s going on thru the classroom’s open windows. The level of noise was getting louder.

and everyone seemed distracted and worried. The sounds of demonstrating people. and explosions going off. helicopters. It was very difficult to concentrate on the test. Military guards were on their speakers telling people to stop the demonstrations. Soon we could hear the helicopters flying above also. helicopters flying. At times it was not clear what was being said over the speakers. as the sound was buffered by people shouting. and scatter. and police sirens going from almost all directions. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 272 .Spared getting louder and louder. There was no way we could concentrate. as if this crowd was very close to our building. but we all did the best we could.

and that meant to me that we are in serious trouble. Suddenly the sounds that were so vivid and loud. and looked out the window frequently. as if they went passed our building. and we are no Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 273 .Spared and occasional screams and shouts were not only getting loud. I let out a big sigh. and with that came a little sense of comfort and security. I had seen several demonstrations on the news before but it is very different when you hear it so close by. they were getting more violent and extremely scary. were getting quieter. and thanked god that whatever that was has gone passed us. as he paced back and forth. As the students tried very hard to concentrate on the test. I could see the look of concern on our teacher’s face.

The teacher could care less that no one was paying any attention to the test it seemed. and considering what is going on. “Let’s take a few minutes and say a thank you prayer to god for sparing us. but they sounded much farther away. we may have to postpone this test for another day. and just stared at each other with uncertainty. and I noticed that Leyla also looked as white as a sheet holding on to the Virgin Mary card in the palm of her hand.Spared longer in middle of chaos and danger. but I don’t Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 274 . I had cold sweat on me. No one was concentrating on the test anymore. We could still hear the crowd humming. and was no longer telling us to concentrate. and we all were frozen.

All I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 275 . Most students looking down with their hands held together and praying quietly. The whole class was quiet. and in the prayer mode and the peace and quiet felt very soothing. She was already scared before I even left the house in the morning.Spared want anyone to leave just yet. it isn’t safe out there” said our teacher. and the last thing I wanted to do was to cause her more anxiety or stress. and also prayed that my mom would not hear about this on the news. My mom had a bad heart. because I knew how worried she gets about me. I said a quiet prayer for our safety. I could not imagine how she might feel if she hears about this on TV.

and had big bushy beards. They looked very angry. I was in the midst of all my thoughts of gratitude when suddenly we heard a huge exploding bang.Spared could think about was to get the heck out of there as soon as it is safe and hurry home. I could hear that all the other classrooms were kicked open as well. My heart must have skipped a couple of beats. Three hostile looking men holding batons shouted “get out the class room now. and the screaming Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 276 . and all my blood rushed to my feet. unkempt. get out now…” These were the protesters who were pro the Islamic regime. or we are going to burn down this building. and the door to our classroom was kicked open. scary.

Our teacher first looked like he was going to confront the angry protestors. There were several more angry protestors in our building making sure they get everyone out and in to the street. whether they wanted to be in the protest or not. but soon after hearing the commotion in the building he realized this is not something he can stop. to beef up the crowd in the street. heading to the door. My mouth was so very dry and I could hardly breathe. Everyone in my classroom got out of their seats. This was a popular tactic that was used. and headed for the door as well.Spared students were fleeing the building in a stampede fashion. I looked over to Leyla and saw that she looked like she was in a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 277 .

“Leyla you have got to get up now. besides there was nowhere to run to. please stop crying. please Leyla please. these crazy men look very serious and will set the building on fire. Even though I was terrified myself. Everyone was running out the door including our teacher. but Leyla was still frozen stiff and wouldn’t get out of her chair. but Leyla was frozen and glued to her chair crying hysterically and hyperventilating.. it was chaos everywhere. I knew I had to be strong for Leyla.Spared panic. and I was the only one who could help her. I grabbed her Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 278 .” I said as I was begging her to get up..

but all she did was scream and scream louder and uncontrollably. My heart skipped another beat. in fear of getting beaten Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 279 . and very angry to see us still there. “Get the hell out now. and threw me on the ground. and was anticipating the worse.Spared hands and pulled as hard as I could. are you deaf or just stupid?” said the Islamic protestor as he swung his baton at us. The baton hit me in the lower back. I let out a huge howl. As the pain ripped thru my body. From the corner of my eye I saw one of the mean protestors come back in to the class room again holding his very large baton. I didn’t dare to say anything else.

and the protestor slapped her really hard and told her to shut up and get out. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 280 . my tears started to flow.Spared again. but the back pain was so overwhelming which caused me to drop Leyla. I tried to get up and helping Leyla up at the same time. Leyla on the other hand started to scream out of control when she saw me get beaten. and by then Leyla finally stopped screaming and got off the floor also. She got knocked out of her seat and on the floor she flew. Feeling helpless and frightened to death. The stair case was jam packed with hysterical people. and we both proceeded to run towards the staircase holding on to each other. and I tried to think real hard how I can get out of there and make it home.

Almost all the students were exiting the back of the building and most of the teachers and the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 281 . because I didn’t even know how to get home even if we got away. and was not able to bend much at all. I could see most other people were either very frightened looking. or crying as well. but Leyla pulled me up so I don’t get crushed. As we approached the first floor. My ankle also got twisted when I slipped on one of the stairs as I got pushed by the crowd. At this point both Leyla and I were both crying very hard. I was not familiar with that neighborhood at all.Spared At that time escaping seemed to be an impossible task to achieve. we could see that there were 2 exit ways. I felt like my lower back was on fire.

and our destiny would have changed completely. But that was not what destiny had planned for us that day. and exited the front door of the building. but we were unable to do so due to the thickness of the crowd. I know now that if we were able to exit the back way. things would have turned out very different. and I was so happy to be out of there. but my heart was telling me to go to the back exit. We finally got out of the building. As we were climbing down the last set of stairs. I thought once out of the building I will make a dash to the side streets and hide until this is all over. I realized the magnitude of our Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 282 .Spared revolutionary people were exiting the front. I figured either way has to be OK.

It seemed like a sea of people. There were easily tens of thousands of people who were going toward the Zhaleh square.Spared problem. and there was no space to move or change directions. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 283 . I wished I could have gotten out the back way. There were a few women dressed in all black chador which is an Islamic cover that covers a woman from head to the toe. I’m sure they were caught up in the crowd just like we were. Ninety-nine percent of the crowd was made up of angry looking male protestors who were reciting the revolutionary slogans. Every once in a while you would see someone who was like us and didn’t belong in the crowd. They looked just as hostile and angry as the rest of the protestors.

and my destiny was already in progress.Spared but wishing was not going to get us anywhere. That was giving my back excruciating shooting pains and I had to turn around again. but all the shoving and pushing did not help change directions. and crossed our arms as hard as Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 284 . and continued to approach Zhaleh square backwards. and were literally picked up by the force of swarming crowd like sardines in the can. We struggled very hard to get back to each other. I almost lost Leyla. as she was being sucked away to another part of the crowd. We wanted to go the opposite direction of where the crowd was leading us. At one point we turned our bodies around in an effort to go the other way.

“Oh my god. I felt very bad for her because it was so obvious that it was a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 285 . oh god why. Leyla was frantically trying to pull her left arm to look at her hand. I lost her. I can’t believe I lost her” “What are you talking about Leyla?” I yelled.Spared possible. she opened her hand and started screaming as she stared at her empty hand. she is gone. no. “I lost Mary. what are we going to do now?” She howled and cried over losing her Virgin Mary card that till then she was holding on to with all her might. she was our only hope. and once freed.

and I won’t leave you. please don’t let go of me” She said with tears running down her face. please stay with me. “Please don’t lose me Nastaran. we only have each other. and we’ll be OK.Spared source of hope and security for her. please. and don’t let go no matter what happens OK? Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 286 . I am very scared. just hang on tight. I turned to her and noticed that there was a very red and vivid hand print on the left side of her face from when she was slapped earlier by the vicious protestor. and without it she was feeling very vulnerable. “I am scared too.

Even though it was a cold and crisp day. our feet were touching the ground again. I was feeling suffocated and felt like I could not get enough air in my lungs. At one point when the crowd seemed to be a little bit looser. as I was being squashed against other people. because of the thick crowd. and being rubbed against people’s sweaty bodies. even with a sore back and swollen ankle.Spared Leyla produced a fake smile and shook her head to say yes. Our feet were barely touching the ground. hoisted up in the air. However Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 287 . and we were being carried towards Zhaleh square. She seemed to be a little bit calmer and hung on to my arm for dear life. and I was actually walking. it felt like it was as hot as hell.

The crowd opened up slightly to avoid walking on this lumpy obstacle. Every one tried not to walk on them. and I could hear the crunching of their ribs and other bones as people walked over them. and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 288 . They were almost as flat as a pancake. The obstacle was the dead bodies of a man and a woman who must have been peasants from far away villages judging by the colorful outfits they were wearing which was mostly soaked with blood and dirt. I looked down to see what I tripped over.Spared it wasn’t loose enough to change directions. but some people unavoidably walked over them including myself. I almost tripped over something and lost my right shoe. and what I saw made my stomach turn.

Somehow my pains seemed very unimportant in comparison to these innocent people who got crushed to death. mouths and noses. I was thinking to myself that those unfortunate couple must have spent all Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 289 . which by the way had lost its brace somewhere.Spared blood was coming out of their ears. and suddenly I could no longer feel the burning of my back. I had never seen a dead body before. To this day I still dream about those flattened bloodied bodies every once in a while. Images of those dead bodies etched permanent marks in my brain. and seeing one in such horrific shape was very harsh on my heart and soul. or the pain from my ankle or my broken thumb. I had a cold chill all over my body.

which added to the level of terror. The noise level was so overwhelmingly deafening. I had to snap myself out of it or I could be the next one to get crushed too. Zhaleh square was a round shaped area where 4 roads would come together. and were suddenly in the middle of the Zhaleh square. Seeing them was weighing so heavy on my heart.Spared their life savings to come to Tehran in hopes of better paying jobs to support their family. just to get crushed to death. There was usually hundreds of cars going thru and around the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 290 . Once again the crowd got much thicker as another wave of people joined the crowd that we were in. and helplessness.

There was a movie theatre just off of Zhaleh square. There were also 2 major public bus stops. and filled with people instead. just massive waves of protesters. and you would usually see several lines of people trying to get in to the busses. and you could see advertising posters of the movie “Star wars” being played on the walls of Zhaleh square. which housed variety of different businesses. On that day I could not see any busses at all. There were some private businesses as well as government offices. I wondered how many of those innocent people got stuck in this mess. but on that day there were no cars at all.Spared square every day. Zhaleh square was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 291 . There were office buildings all around the square.

I am only 5 feet 2 inches. Oh how I wished I could be one of those people just watching what was going on as a spectator.Spared wall to wall occupied by people. this is no place for a woman to be. instead of being mixed up as a protestor participating it. I could see hundreds of people looking out of every window of those offices. and some just speculating. and was shorter than most people in the crowd. as if they were thinking what are these 2 frightened looking girls doing here. had no shoes on.” to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 292 . Some of them were shouting slogans synchronizing with the crowd. and I was getting strange looks from these protesters. I would yell “Can you please let us out. and down at us.

as they were simultaneously yelling and reciting the slogans. or perhaps they simply could not hear my pleas. I could also see Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 293 .Spared whoever was looking at us. Perhaps they viewed me as a coward for wanting to escape and get out. but judging by the sound of it. Some were too busy to pay any attention to me. Everyone I pleaded with seemed to have this angry and disgusted look on their faces. and holding their fist up in the air in protest to shah’s regime. I was not able to see the whole crowd and how far there were people. as if I just insulted them by asking to be let out. it seemed to be perhaps tens of thousands of people. but no one would answer back or opened up the way.

Some of these slogans read ”Down with shah”. and “We surrender only to Islam”. “We will not stop until victory is achieved”.Spared posters of Ayatollah Khomeini. wearing dress like “Kafan” sheets. Kafan is a cream colored fabric that is used to wrap dead people before they are laid to rest. I learned later on Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 294 . held by hundreds of men. “Final victory is Islamic Republic”. such as “Martyrs never die”. These outfits had slogans written on them. ”Down with Imperialism and Communism”. They all carried long banners with anti shah’s slogans written on them. Every once in a while I could hear explosion like sounds coming from different directions followed by a crowd of people screaming. “Death to shah”.

These men. who would under any other circumstances. I felt like I was drowning in the sea of men. We had finally stopped walking and had come to a stop. We were caged by several men all around us packed against each other.. The nauseating smell of burnt plastic or tires was in the air everywhere. There were no other women near us that I could see. so close that I could feel their body temperature and smell their breaths.Spared that there were cars being set on fire and as the gas tank would catch on fire it would eventually explode. It sounded like a bomb went off every time I heard that. I knew that our proximities were in middle of the Zhaleh square. rub against you for a stolen moment of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 295 .

and conquer. These helicopters came out of nowhere it seemed and were at a standstill hovering over Zhaleh square. confront. The gravity of what I was up against finally sank in and I started believing that this must be it and end is near. defeat. even if it meant dying as a result. I spit the hair out of my mouth. and looked up and saw there were at least 12 helicopters flying low just above Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 296 . Suddenly the afternoon smoke filled haze was blocked by a cloud of helicopters and the noise they were making sounded like a thousand fans or 20 passing trains.Spared pleasure. Leyla’s long hair was blown in the air and covered my face. looked completely stone faced with nothing on their mind except to defy.

but she was still maintaining a strong grip on my arm. I decided to let her be. At least she looked like wherever her mind had gone. I could see military soldiers with their rifles pointing at people. She wasn’t even looking up to see where this horrendous noise was coming from. safer and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 297 . it was a lot more peaceful. because she seemed to have been very quiet for the last few minutes. I looked over to Leyla to see how she is handling all this. She had completely checked out. because there was no point snapping her out of it. It was so surreal and I was wondering if all this was real or am I dreaming.Spared us. as there was nowhere to run or hide. That is when I noticed a blank look on her face.

This looked like the most horrifying scene from a Vietnam movie except I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 298 . I wished I could check out too and join her. because she was always the brave and fearless one. and was finally able to see. That seemed very ironic. and now that she really needs to be brave she checks out? I could hear a strange noise coming from all corners of Zhaleh square but since I was so short. I could not see a thing. but no such luck. I tried really hard to stretch my neck out to see what this noise was. The whole Zhaleh square was surrounded by enormous looking tanks.Spared happier than the present in middle of Zhaleh square. with huge gun barrels pointing at the crowd.

it was loud enough to hear what they had to say. if you resist. there was no popcorn. We have orders to shoot and kill. “The whole city of Tehran is under martial law.Spared was living it as the main character. This was reality! What must have been a short time seemed like an eternity. You must scatter away now. you must go away if you don’t want any harm done to you. despite all the yelling and screaming made by the revolutionary crowd. Even with all the incredibly high noise level. Finally the voice of a military man coming thru the speakers from up above could be heard loud and clear. It was not a movie.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 299 .

scatter away.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 300 . The man from the helicopter announced again. and finally get both Leyla and I out of this mess. and once they do. get away from the windows or you will be shot as well. I was shocked to see that nothing happened. this is serious. go home. I can make my move. and people were still standing there as if they had a death wish. but we will shoot and kill every one of you if you don’t obey.Spared I felt so happy to hear that because I thought anyone with half a brain would listen and go away and stop acting so stupid.” He continued “Those of you looking out the window this includes you too. we don’t want to. “Listen people.

So could this be just like a movie? Do I really die right here. In my immature child like mind I was thinking that this cannot be happening. right now? That just cannot be happening. but that did not happen. and somehow the main character gets away and lives. and I persistently stayed in that hellish ground. because it just seems like every movie I have seen with a threat of death. and only a few remained. but I felt every bit of it. I suddenly could Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 301 . I pinched myself to see if I am dreaming perhaps.Spared People who were looking out their windows quickly disappeared. eventually had a happy ending. I thought any minute now the crowd will open up and people would runaway.

He was standing just a step away from me with his hands on some ones shoulders Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 302 . but unfortunately I didn’t. I could also see that the soldiers from the helicopters were also prepared to shoot with their rifles pointed at the crowd. and felt like it was jumping out of my throat.Spared see and hear hundreds of military guards standing on top of the tanks with their machine guns and rifles pointing at the crowd. My hands were shaking and I felt like I was short of breath and I might faint. My heart was racing a thousand beats per minute it seemed. I was busy praying very hard until I saw a man in my peripheral vision who looked like he was trapped in this mess by accident just like I was.

and a white shirt. and his hands were covered with calluses. and as a result end up with that hump on their back. It was also obvious that he was very poor judging by his appearance.Spared trying to keep from falling as his legs were shaking. He was a frail old man in his seventies or even eighties. much like what I must have had. in the traditional clothes of someone who lived in the Fars region with a small black cap and a black vest. and had a look of terror in his eyes. They very much did what mules do. He had a prominent hump on his back. His hump was very common among this poor layer of the society who carried heavy loads on their back for a living. and his worn out Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 303 . perhaps from years of hard labor.

and the anxiety of what will happen next was paralyzing. It was like we were all a herd of cows waiting to be slaughtered. Every second seemed like an hour. even though he looked to be way over seventy. You just knew he didn’t belong there and didn’t voluntarily show up to be there. We stared at each other for a good long time. He had a rosary in his hand which was being turned vigorously.Spared clothes. and it was not a question of if. and someone who was missing him at home. He must still be working to make ends meet. His cataract covered pearly looking eyes were wet with tears. but Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 304 . along with his mouth moving as if prayers were being recited. I’m sure he had a family and loved ones too.

Take your life and run. I didn’t notice any thinning of the crowd and if there were people who did run away. we will hunt you and kill you later if you happen to runaway and survive. “This is your last chance people to get away and save your lives. and we will do so if you do not get away now. it was not enough to make a difference where we were standing which was in the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 305 .Spared a matter of when it would be my turn.” To scare people off even more they shot a few bullets up in the air. We have orders to kill. Once more they announced over the loud speakers the last warnings. If you don’t go away now. This is an order and a guarantee.

and for some reason they didn’t sound as loud and obnoxious anymore either. The only thing you could hear was the helicopters up above. and every possible warning has been given to these people and they Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 306 . I thought to myself if this is what they call “the calm before the storm?” I knew this was it.Spared middle of this huge crowd. Feelings of impending doom took over me. reciting the slogans or profanity was heard anymore. it created a strange silence that was so very chilling and unusual. I squeezed Leyla’s hand even though I knew she wasn’t feeling it. No more screaming. After these shots were fired up in the air. There was obviously nowhere to run.

and soul. full dedication. heart. children. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 307 . I promise to be a good nurse and help people with all my might. and never take any blessing for granted. a nursing career. that if you let me live. don’t let me suffer with too much pain. and a lot of other hopes and dreams. and accept it was over. and don’t have a political agenda either.Spared are still standing here ready to give up their lives for their political belief. I still am looking forward to the rest of my life. and asked god to please let me go easy. I finally said to god. I even tried to bargain with god. I thanked him for everything he had blessed me with up to that point. but what about me? I’m not ready to die just yet. a husband. I finally had to surrender.

trucks.” The silence was violently broken with the protestors screaming. and attacking the military guards with rocks.Spared “If this is your will. but please. tearing people’s flesh apart. please don’t let my mom suffer. and street level started to shoot simultaneously at the crowd. then I have no choice but accepting it. There are not enough words to describe the terror that took place on that day when the bullets started flying towards us. tanks. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 308 . Hundreds of guards from military helicopters. Machine guns roared and ripped the silence like hundreds of hungry wolves being let loose. which prompted the soldiers to open fire. that I die at a young age in this fashion.

Somehow I felt the burning and stabbing pain of being pierced with bullets. even though I wasn’t shot yet. and helpless. is unbelievable and despicable. and just have to wait for your bullet to take your life. Knowing you are standing there completely exposed.Spared Although I was terrorized. but the truth was that I wasn’t even shot. The anticipation of being shot was certainly worse than receiving it. The air was filled with Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 309 . and traumatized up until that point. I had no way of knowing that this was yet a new level of devastation that not too many people will ever experience in their life time. vulnerable. with no way of defending yourself. I was already imagining the bullets ripping thru me and burn my flesh.

There was a helicopter directly on top of us with their gun barrels pointed at us long before the final warning was given out. and a blank stare. pulled Leyla closer to me.Spared constant and simultaneous screams of every person standing there. in addition to the flying helicopters. and a flat expression on her face. I looked over to Leyla quickly and saw that she was still standing right next to me with her eyes open. I closed my eyes. and almost willingly waited to receive the bullet with my name on Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 310 . I thought for sure he is going to shoot Leyla and me first. completely unaffected by the flying bullets. bullets flying thru the air. The bullets sounded like sharp and high pitched whistles going right next to my face.

So I just stood there with my eyes closed. Enough was enough when am I going to get my bullet. I just had to wait until the thousands of people in front of and around me get shot first and drop down. the terror is killing me already. I really wanted to scream but nothing was coming out of my throat. I had already surrendered. I could make out something’s that they were saying. come on. or receive the final bullet. shoot the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 311 . At one point I heard the officer in charge yelling at the shooters “Come on. before I had a chance to duck. stop shooting the dead ones. The helicopters were flying so low to the ground that you could hear what the soldiers where saying to each other.Spared it.

I kept praying to god: “God please either stop this storm of bullets.” The agony of limbo and anticipation was harder than death. and I felt like I am being showered with blood. Our hair was flying everywhere and it was not possible to open your eyes because of all the flying dust and debris. I was splashed with what seemed to be buckets of warm sticky blood from every direction. Holding my breath. The air was filled with the desperate screams of people. I waited and waited what seemed like a century. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 312 . Blinded with blood seeping in my eyes I stood my grounds.Spared ones still standing there” or something to that effect. or let me get shot right now.

finally sat on the warm pool of blood which covered the ground. My left foot which was so far hoisted up. Suddenly I felt Leyla dropping on to the ground. At times I was hit with warm and wet chunks. If the bullet was an inch a different direction I would have been killed. I didn’t pay any attention to my ear and still waited for the fatal bullet. and her arm finally let go of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 313 . Finally the crowd was loosened up as I felt the flow of the wind on my legs.Spared but soon the metallic taste of blood also found its way in to my mouth. but it was nothing more than a scrape. which I am sure it was the dismembered flying body parts. Suddenly I felt a sharp knife going thru my left ear. and on the tippy toes. I was shot in the ear lobe.

and I don’t remember how long that was. and I’m sure it was because I was in a shock myself. in the fetal position.Spared its tight grip. I wasn’t capable of thinking if she was dead or alive. I laid in the blood bath for a while. Why Leyla dropped didn’t even register at that time. I was in a disturbing confusion and numbness. I was physically and emotionally spent and exhausted. but I do remember bits and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 314 . As she fell I was knocked over by what seemed to be a dead man falling down. and I just laid on the ground which felt like a blood bath. I didn’t try to resist or sit up again. It felt good to lay there. A lot of my memory has been blocked. My ears were ringing and could hardly hear anything else.

Before that day I had never even seen a dead body. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 315 . I lifted my head so very slightly just to see what the rest of Zhaleh square looks like. and the brain matter was hanging out of it. I never imagined I would see the horrifying images I was about to see.Spared pieces of it. I remember at some point opening up my eyes momentarily as I was lying there. I’m sure my mind was trying to protect me from the magnitude of psychological trauma and insult involved. like seeds of a pomegranate. and just the thought of it would freak me out. and saw a man’s brain open up in 2 halves. and I saw at least 6000 to 8000 dead bodies lying everywhere.

and that was how I estimated the number of people on the ground. I remember seeing an arm lying next to me with a wedding band still on. or crawling like dying tadpoles in a shallow dehydrated pond. Inharmoniously. There were still some who were moaning. there was also a tattoo on the forearm saying “Allah Akbar” which means “God is great”. I wondered about his wife’s sorrow when she finds out her husband was killed in the name of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 316 . moving. The bodies were not all only shot to death. This crowd looked to be approximately twice as much. most were torn to pieces depending on how many bullets they received.Spared I had once been at a palladium filled with 4000 people before at a concert.

It was so creepy because his intestines were still moving like a slow moving snake. my mind kept working and thinking of different things trying to make sense of it all. Another man was laying there with no head.Spared political beliefs. However. but blood was still oozing out of his jugular artery. Both my body and mind had been traumatized and surrendered. or anything related to survival anymore. I saw a man laying flat on his back with all his guts and intestines outside his body. or how do I get out of here. I don’t remember thinking anything about saving myself. and what span of time had passed Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 317 . Somehow it seemed as though my body was paralyzed in shock. I am not sure how long I laid there.

It sure smelled like death. or a loved one succeeding in an important goal like graduation. and soon would attract flies all over it. When the blood from the sheep would sit on the ground for anymore than half hour. and everything was in slow motion. I layed there trying to digest it all and placed my face on the asphalt that was covered with warm sticky blood. or weddings. you can easily smell it. It seemed like time had stopped.Spared anymore. The blood bath seemed still Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 318 . The smell of blood reminded me of when we slaughtered sacrificial sheep at my grandmother Shahrbanoo’s house for very special events such as a new baby’s birth. That smell always scared me.

Spared very warm and soothing. with my whole body floating under water. Having my ears filled with water made the whole world so very peaceful and quiet and I the only thing I could hear would be my heart beats making a sweet melody. I could hear my heart beat so very slowly. Laying there in the street that awful bloody day. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 319 . and reminded me of when I would take a hot bath when I was a little girl. but somehow the serenity was missing and there was no sweet melody in the making. The only thing that would be sticking out was my nose. and my right ear filled with the blood of thousands of people on the ground.

The helicopters took off one by one leaving the slaughtered corpses.Spared In my visual field I could see layers of thousands of bloody bodies. BANG. they wanted to make sure no one gets out of there still alive. Holding their rifles they started walking in between the dead bodies. and if they did. machine guns. or political slogans. and after that tanks and trucks in the distance. The number of bullets being shot gradually slowed down and finally stopped. they were shot to death. No more helicopters. kicking them to see if they would move. Dozens of soldiers jumped out of the trucks and tanks. I don’t remember being worried Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 320 . As they promised. it was finally quiet. and started walking towards me.

I was too traumatized to think about anything anymore. I wished I could be like the birds and fly away. I felt numb emotionally as well as physically.Spared about that anymore. I looked up. At the end of my visual field could not help but notice the hazy afternoon sky filled with a large number of birds migrating for the winter. and could see a few people looking down at us from the windows of the buildings surrounding the square. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 321 . but my guess is that I must have passed out or else I would have been shot to death if I was found alive. and just laid there motionless.

as if I was locked Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 322 . or how I got there. I felt a warm sticky drop fall on my wet sweaty face. humid. 1978) I remember feeling like I am waking up from a scary dream. Oh. Suddenly out of nowhere. A total feeling of utter confusion mixed with anxiety and amnesia. My head was throbbing so badly.. and so was my whole body from head to toe. and the air seemed heavy.. especially my back. and saturated.Spared Darkness Everywhere (Sep 8. I had no idea where that came from and why was it landing on my face. but I felt like I was waking up from a bad and very long dream.. I felt like I was being smothered. or where I was.. here is another one. I don’t know how long had passed.

I really needed a deep breath of fresh air in my lungs. I remember thinking where am I. or that’s how it felt. so I can see where I was. I had no idea how I got there and how long I had been laying there. I tried to open my eyes. Indeed it was very similar to the smell of the slaughtered sheep again.Spared up in a steaming sauna. I attempted to use my hands to open my eyelids and scrub the sticky stuff away. but they felt like they were glued shut. which reminded me of the neighborhood butcher shop mixed with sweat. but I realized that I was not Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 323 . and how did I get there? Why does it seem so dark? Is this a bad dream? Or even a good one? Was I dead or alive? There was a strange and very foul odor.

and my hands were held down by something. I realized that my eyelids were stuck shut from the dried blood. So I tried harder and harder to open my eyelids until I finally did. Something was holding and pinning me down. no. I even thought if it could be that I am buried alive? No. but all my efforts to free myself failed. which added to my anxiety. as I was able to move my muscles. To my surprise everything was pitch black.Spared able to. that thought was just too terrifying to believe. I could tell I was lying on my back. I knew I was not paralyzed. but since I could not see anything I couldn’t tell what it was. Suddenly Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 324 . I could not move my arms or my body. It felt like there was an elephant lying on top of me. no.

I felt the hair rise on my body as I feared I was in hell. it was just like that. Only fast Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 325 . You know when they say your life just passed in front of your eyes like a film? It’s true. panic. Instead it sounded like humming. It felt like I only had a small pocket of air that I was breathing and rebreathing it.Spared a feeling of freight. just to realize I can’t get enough air to let it out as a scream. I started to scream. or perhaps I was being punished for something I did wrong at some point in my life. and I felt so lucky. because it they were I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale. and feeling of being trapped and claustrophobia took over me. My mouth and nose were not obstructed or covered by anything.

But as my life did go by in my mind I wondered. It was as if gods hand was placed on my forehead. is my life worth saving? Should I allow the darkness and this so seemingly hell swallow me whole? Is there anything worthwhile to live for? I certainly wasn’t very happy with my life the way it was so far. and blew a big breath of life in to my lungs. get up and fight for it…. and felt like I had suffered enough. I screamed over and over again until I realized no one was coming to save me. As I sank deeper and deeper in to my dark hole. Happy about having enough air in my lungs. somehow I got energized. A voice told me YES this life is worth it.Spared forward. Not knowing Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 326 .

and was gaining inches only. but I was determined. Finally I was able to get my left arm freed up. How did I go from lying in the street to lying in this hell hole? I tried to swing back and forth to free myself from whatever was holding me down. and adding to the terror. and hopeful. I was so happy. but I didn’t give up and gave it all my might.Spared where I was lying was driving me crazy. I was praying loud in my mind to myself hoping that I have the strength to fight and get myself out of there. I pushed and then pulled. I wondered if that was how Xerxes felt when he Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 327 . and realized it was very heavy. and felt like I just had a victory the size of Persian Empire.

and I was trying at the same time to free them as well. My feet and legs were still trapped. With one arm freed up I started to lift what was pushing against my chest so far. but was somewhat squishy like a piece of hard foam. I stopped only momentarily to catch my breath and regain some energy. Xerxes was one of the kings of the Persian Empire that we read about in school. One more push and I was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 328 . It felt like whatever was laying on my face was lumpy. I pushed and rolled my body so hard.Spared won his battles. and started to struggle again. I felt like all my insides were squashed It made it harder for me to catch any air. wet and had a piece of cloth covering it. it felt hard.

Wow I took a big refreshing breath.. It gave me the fuel to keep going. I didn’t know what the light source was but it gave me hope.Spared able to stick my head out of where ever I was. As I opened my eyes. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 329 . I looked down and that was when I realized my head was hoisted up in the air. I immediately saw the light from a distance of a half opened door. I realized that I was in a very dark room with the door open to the hall way perhaps. It was very much like when they say there is light at the end of tunnel. and filled my lungs with cold air. and the rest of my body was still stuck in what seemed like quick sand.

I let out a big ”AH” as I got frightened so badly and was wondering who he is and what is he going to do to me. The floor didn’t sound like it was too far away. With that in mind. I closed my eyes and braced myself for whatever he was going to do. Another warm wet drop fell on my face instead. There was only silence. and he will surely kill me now. I opened my right eye so very slightly to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 330 . I could hear more drops falling on the floor. and rushed the sluggish blood all the way to my head. I looked up and suddenly I saw a man staring right at me with a blank expression. because I thought I am captured. My heart skipped a beat. To my surprise nothing happened.Spared As I struggled to open my eyes wider.

as I hated the sudden moves and monsters jumping at you from hidden dark places. but the fright from seeing the dead man must have been the grace from god that I really needed. I could tell that he was lying right on top of me with a lifeless expression on his face. What I saw was not any different than what you see in a horror movie. The man I saw was dead from his position and what I could gather with the limited light shining in the room. I never did like horror movies. The only thing that was missing was a frightening music to go with it. What it did for me was that it scared me enough and gave Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 331 . I didn’t know it then.Spared see if he is still there.

oh my god that is just so unbelievable. I turned around to see what kind of trap was I entangled to. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I realized that I was laying there with the rest of the dead bodies.Spared me the fuel to propel myself out of the trap that I was entangled in. and that was when I saw a pile of dead bodies approximately 5 feet high. With the new wave of energy I pulled myself out of where I was laying. I was so numb and speechless. and next thing I knew was that I was standing on the cold linoleum floor of that room. and was trying to wrap my brain Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 332 . and must have stared at the large pile of corps in disbelief for what seemed to be a long time.

but my brain couldn’t take it anymore. The sight of dead people pile on top of each other. and I couldn’t figure out what was hurting me the most. The thought of lying in the mix of approximately 100 dead corps was making me literally nauseated. with no life or warmth to it. I felt like I was freezing. and was so very overwhelmed and exhausted. My tears were rolling down my blood soaked cheeks. I realized I was in a room the size of a typical living room. I was bloody from head to toe. and being still wet from the blood. The light was not on. or was it the fear of what is going to happen to me? Or I could go on and on for a million reasons that induced fears as well as tears. but there was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 333 .Spared around it.

Spared enough light to see the dimensions and contents. It looked like everything was pushed away to make room for this large pile of bodies. There were no windows to the outside that I could see. a Samovar which is a large kettle for boiling and brewing large amounts of tea. There was a stench of stale blood and sweat in the room. I didn’t have any concept of time. There was a water dispenser. It was a very small room that looked like a lounge or a break room of some sort. At that time I didn’t exactly remember Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 334 . a few chairs stacked up on top of each other and a small table. a small sink. I couldn’t remember everything that happened to me that same day as my memory was very sketchy.

the brain matter Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 335 . which was close to a hundred all piled up on top of each other. Confused and terrified I stood there looking at the lifeless bodies. the blood. the fists in the air. Like a fast forwarded movie. the helicopters. I saw the crowd. the slogans. I was flash backing the details of what took place that day. There were several more bodies lying on the ground on their backs. How can this be? What was I doing among them? How did I get there? Why are they all dead and why am I still alive? Suddenly the recollection of what had happened pierced my mind like a flash of lightening ripping thru the dark skies.Spared how I got there from the scene of the massacre that took place not too long ago. the tanks.

It dawned on me that they must have thought I was dead and threw me in the pile of corpses to be taken to the morgue later.Spared on the asphalt. and now I wished I could forget. the ring on the ripped finger. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 336 . which saved me from getting shot to death. I got a sharp headache and had to hold my head as if it was too much to bear. I held my head in my hands and felt my hair which was stuck together saturated in blood. all over again. I was so sorry about trying to remember the details. I must have passed out. because they were killing anyone who was still alive. I felt like my head was going to explode.

and families who loved them. hopes. father. I knew somewhere out there their families are missing them all.Spared These lifeless bodies were thrown on top of each other like a pile of worthless garbage. Although it was noble to die for your belief. brother. they were some ones son. and my heart was aching for every one of them. I knew that these were not just people. and plans for the future. it seemed like such a waste of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 337 . More warm tears rolled on my face. I tried to wipe my eyes with my hand. they died trying to fight for it. Whether their political beliefs were right or wrong. or grandfather. only to realize that my hands were too dirty and made my eyes burn. Each and every one of them had dreams.

As a matter of fact there wasn’t one face that didn’t look innocent. which had ran down on the floor joining the large pool of blood of everyone else which extended all the way out the door. It Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 338 . I prayed that his soul along with everyone else’s soul is in heaven with god right now passing the golden arches. He had a thin stream of blood coming out of his nose and ears. His eyes were popped out of his scull due to heavy load on top of him. His face seemed so innocent and peaceful. body. caressed the blood saturated hair of a young man who was in the very bottom of the human pile. It looked like a river of martyrs.Spared human life. on to the red carpet of the hall way. I kneeled down next to them. and soul.

if I was the chosen on to be saved. it felt so wrong. it was because I was still alive. Also if I am supposed to be the spared one. but everyone else had to lose their life? I felt very angry with god. because I didn’t feel like I deserved to be alive.Spared didn’t seem fair. and they weren’t. and why am I angry now to get my wish. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 339 . and it wasn’t because all those people were dead. I felt very guilty and undeserving to be the chosen one. why is it that the only ones in peace are all lying before me lifeless? Pondering on those thoughts I got up and decided it is time to get going. Why? Why did god want me to live. But I remembered how hard I prayed to god to let me live. I was spared from certain death.

Taken off guard I turned my head to see what it was. I went closer to see what it is as I tried my hardest to focus my eyes.Spared Suddenly something shiny caught my eyes in my peripheral vision. I got closer to the stack of bodies and could still see the shiny object on one the bodies in the second row closest to the ground. From the very pale light coming thru the half open door I spotted a shiny object in between a few of the bodies. I couldn’t believe there were more females among the dead. and that was where the gold chain and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 340 . All I could see was the jaw line. and half of the neck. It was a female body because I could see the long hair hanging down. as if it was trying to catch my attention.

I was trying hard not to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 341 . I could not believe my eyes. It was so strange. Ah my darling friend. talking and vibrant as she talked about her most intimate feelings with me. and now she is laying lifeless in the pile of dead bodies. I turned her head towards me. I held back the vomiting urge. it was my Leyla. why does she have to be dead? I was getting physically ill looking at her lifeless eyes. my Leyla. and let out a quiet AH and took a step back. I gasped as if I was suffocating and my felt a sharp pain in my heart. Just hours ago she was walking. no.Spared pendant became visible. God no.

they all flashed before my eyes. Just like that my beautiful. and rebellious Leyla was gone. I lifted up her necklace and saw Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 342 . I stared at her for what seemed to be a long time. Flood of sorrow was pouring out of my eyes as I stared at her lifeless body and half open eyes. only to find myself staring right at her without any ability to take my eyes off of her. I remembered her facial expressions when she was talking to me professing her love for Sina. funny. nor was I able to stop my tears from pouring. all the memories we had. A flood of emotions engulfed my heart and soul. Her beautiful green eyes no longer had the spark and liveliness they normally did. All the years we have been friends.Spared look at her.

and it was difficult to catch my breath. By then my quiet whimpering had turned in to full blown crying. I caressed her hair. and as my fingers rolled over to the back of her head. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 343 . I figured I will give it to her family if I can ever make it home. I took the cross and the chain off her chest. as it was already broken. Strangely. I realized she is missing a part of her skull behind her head. I remembered that Sina had bought that for her 17th birthday. but yet still sitting on her chest as if was prepared for me to pick it up. I didn’t have to open the chain to get it out. She bought a long chain so she can hide the cross from her family by wearing it under her shirt.Spared that it was actually a small gold cross hanging on a very long chain.

I don’t deserve to live. my chest. You didn’t deserve to die. I wanted to carry as much of Leyla as I possibly could. over my heart. and for all I know. Oh my Leyla. I wish I was laying there with you. my neck. and I never forget the courage you showed me when I had none of my own. It is so hard to see you perished. you are my closest friend. touching and embracing me.Spared I had to put my hand over my mouth to make sure I was not crying too loud. Rest in Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 344 . I wanted her close to me. so neither of us is alone. It made me feel as if she is still with me. arms and legs. I took the blood from her head and rubbed it all over my face.

and he will guide me thru this.Spared peace my sweetheart. As I stood up to leave all of a sudden it all made sense. It felt good knowing whatever happens that night. I realized that it was a sign from god. and Leyla is with me. Oh I cannot believe that I didn’t see it. This is all a part of god’s plan. I am not Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 345 . but I knew all this all happened for a reason. God was trying to tell me that everything will be ok. I am not alone. With those words I said my good bye and knew that now I could leave her in peace. I will pray for your parents to be strong. The cross was yet another sign from god that he is there with me. whether I make it home or not. I don’t know how.

I know this is a sign from you. Please give me strength my god. but after seeing the cross I had no doubt that all of the events of that day were simply not a coincident. Thank you so much for reaching out to me when I obviously need you more than ever before. I feel you are with me. I trust that whatever happened today was for a reason. and will protect me. Please help me to get me home.Spared sure why I was the chosen one among everyone else. I believed that we all worship the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 346 . Thank you my god. To me although I didn’t feel like I belonged to any religious school of thought.

I had to pay attention to where I was and find a way to get home. I had to emotionally detach myself from Leyla and all the other bodies lying lifeless on the floor. I craved so much to be in my mom’s arms.Spared same god. and put it inside my bra on the left side as close to my heart as possible. but I had to survive and make it back home. That was very difficult to do. as if god was warning me to snap out of my thoughts. and that meant that I need to concentrate. A cold draft came in to the room I was standing in. because I wasn’t out of danger just yet. I felt energized and more hopeful that I have a sign from god that he is with me. I kissed the pendent. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 347 .

It wasn’t time to feel sorry for myself or the dead ones. and was horrified of the condition I was in. You cannot escape or hide” echoed in my head. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 348 . inviting. and safe.Spared where it was soft. I could not help the dead anymore. The promise that the army guard made over the megaphone “If you don’t get away now. I looked at myself in the faint light that was coming thru the open door. and it was time for fight or flight.. A feeling of being hunted took over me. it was time to fight for survival. it was time to help myself. and weakened my faith. but I was far away from home. I wanted to hear her say everything was going to be OK. we will hunt you and kill every one of you.

It was obvious that someone would be back soon to remove these dead bodies before they start to rot.Spared There was not an inch of my body or my clothes without blood. and how I am going to get out of there. It sounded like a woman crying and moaning. but I couldn’t put my finger on where I was. and saw red carpeting and dim light in the hall ways. and my wet clothes were making me very cold. the sound of walkie talkies going off and on. I was barefoot. and I better be out by then. and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 349 . I still wasn’t sure who is out there. I could hear noises out in the hall way. I had dirt and blood under my nails. I carefully peaked out the door. Sounds of men talking could be heard also. It looked very familiar.

I knew there had to be soldiers nearby. It seemed logical to do that to get out. But I couldn’t stay there either. I carefully stepped out of the room. But how was I going to get by the police men.Spared they didn’t sound like they were too far away from where I was. I had to find out what is out there and see where the exit doors were. There were large posters of future movies Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 350 . I could still hear the sirens of police cars from the street. and guards looking like the way I do? They will grab me instantly and shoot me. I was in a movie theatre. soldiers. The army had used this for hiding and collecting bodies. I realized where I was. and proceeded to go toward the brighter light. Once I came out of the door.

The smell of popcorn. and had a black chador on. and it was replaced with smell of death. His eyelids were slightly open. She was in her late sixties or seventies perhaps. Why did you have to take him this way and this soon? Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 351 . my only son. and that was when I saw a lady who was crying over a dead body of a young man. His whole shirt around his abdomen was bloodied. The woman kept banging on her chest and her head with her fist. The man looked to be a young man in his early twenties.Spared on all the walls. Her clothes were all bloodies by her son’s blood. I took a few steps. crying hysterically and saying. “Why god. why did you take him? He was my life.

I couldn’t watch that any more. and inability to identify bodies. they buried majority of the bodies in one large grave. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 352 . I thought of all the moms who will be grieving over their children. as it was too disturbing and heart wrenching. Perhaps my mom would behave the same if that was me lying dead. and most will never know why their children never made it home that day. but I am sure she was so sorrow stricken that she could only deal with her son’s death. and if they are dead or still alive.Spared Why…” She seemed completely unaware that I might be a victim as well judging by the way I looked. and nothing else. I heard much later that due to lack of space in the city morgues.

Somehow it just seemed like a movie. but I couldn’t stop to comfort her.” She had tears rolling down her rosy cheeks. please help him. she stretched her hand out to me. he is dead. and looked like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. or help her in anyway. or talk to her. my only son. As I turned the corner I looked back and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 353 . or bring her son back from dead. and didn’t look real to me. I certainly didn’t know how to even help myself. Perhaps I was so zoned out that I was not even capable of helping anyone. “My son.Spared As I walked past the old woman. She kept saying. as if I was just watching this old woman on TV. was not going to matter. I knew no matter what I said or did. Please bring him back to me.

and drag marks could be seen telling the tale of when the dead bodies were being dragged along the floor to the back room where I awoke. and leaning against the wall with his right hand inside his button down shirt against his heart. blending in to the red carpet that covered the whole hall way. and all the way to the red carpet.Spared she still had her hands up in the air. I passed a couple more dead bodies in that hall way. The carpet was saturated with a lot of blood. Blood had trickled out of his shirt thru a large gaping hole. It made it looked like the whole floor was a river of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 354 . begging god for help. One of them was in a sitting position on the floor.

He looked like he perhaps came in for refuge. but his injuries were fatal. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 355 . There was something so bizarre to have a live watch. I stopped and looked at him and noticed his left hand was resting on his lap. making it seem like it was the red sea. The other dead body was just steps away from the first one. He was a young boy in his teens. He understandably got no medical attention because he was a protestor. worn by a dead man. and his eyes were half closed.Spared red blood. I wondered what his last thoughts were before he died. and his watch was still ticking. I thought to myself that it was reasonable to say he died of a broken heart. His face was a shade of dark grey. and was lying on his left side.

Or was he perhaps just like me forced out of his class and lost in the crowd like a drop in the ocean? Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 356 . He looked like a typical soccer loving boy you would see in every neighborhood streets playing with other kids.Spared and had a large gaping exit wound on his back and thru his white tee shirt that said Adidas. It was hard to believe kids that age had any substantial political belief that they were willing to die for. or did they see protesting as an opportunity to look brave. His spinal column was perfectly visible and looked shattered with his spinal cord lying out like worn pieces of old rope. His blood also had poured out thru the large gaping wound and joined the red sea as well.

and I ran towards a room that appeared to be the closest room and opened the door. It was a push door with no knobs on it I went in and tried closing it gently. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 357 . I went behind the red curtains and tried to stand without moving or even breathing. The 2 soldiers passed by outside the room. but never came into the theatre I was in. I found myself inside one of the theatres. which flashing lights that usually guided customers to their assigned seats. There were sunflower seed shells all over the floor. Every inch of the walls were covered by very long velvet red curtains.Spared I was startled by hearing footsteps coming towards me. The stage was visible with dim lights. I let out a sigh of relief.

Again I went in the nearest doors which lead me to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 358 . the gross smell of cigarette smoke filled my lungs. I spotted the double exit door in the very back and was so thankful that I easily found it.Spared I realized that I better walk back to where I was and try to find a back door of some kind. and soldiers had order to kill all survivors. because if I tried to get out thru the front door. I could not hear too much noise or commotion at all. So very carefully I walked back to the back of the theatre which seemed a safe place to be. As I came close to exiting. It stopped me in my tracks as I knew it meant there are soldiers nearby outside in the alley. I would get shot immediately because I definitely looked like a surviving protester.

to kill at least one. I just wanted to see what it felt like. and see how it feels when someone’s brain is blown out. I hid behind the long curtain again. “How may do you think you killed? Said one guard to the other. Did you?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 359 .Spared another dark theatre room. “None damn it. I was stuck in the troop carrier loading rifles so everyone else can get to kill those rats out there. and was able to hear 2 soldiers talking.

knowing it was me who killed them. I can’t even count. I have to stay here as long as it takes to clear all the damn corpses. and it was so cool to just shoot those suckers and seeing them fall. I was running the machine gun. I like to do it again”. and I know I’ll be making it home early in the morning.Spared “Oh yes. “It’s going to be another long night for me. I’m sick of it man” Said one soldier to the other. I am so tired of it all. One of them burped really loud. When are these people going to get it? They act like they all have a death wish. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 360 . It was fun. I killed so many.

who are hiding.Spared “Don’t worry you might get your chance. They threw away the bottles of soda they were drinking.” Ha ha ha. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 361 . you can shoot them. and they can’t hide forever. and put out their cigarettes. and when they do come out. They both seemed like it was so ordinary and everyday like to walk by dead bodies. and came in walking back towards the front of the theatre completely unaffected by the bodies. the two guards laughed together. BANG. Neither one stopped to help the old lady or to pick up the dead bodies on their way. There has to be lots of injured ones.

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 362 . I thought to myself and felt disgusted. and the only thing these guards could think about was missing out on the opportunity to kill someone? How soulless can you be.Spared All these people lost their life today.

(Sep 8. My heart was beating so fast and furious. There were only sounds of cars going by in the far distance. a heroic act in order to save your life. 1978) There comes a time in your life when it all boils down to a move on your part.Spared Finding my way back home. I thought anyone who has ears will hear my heart bang on my chest wall. I prayed and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 363 . I listened to see if I hear any other people. I saw my opportunity to run out before another guard goes out thru the back door again. or any foot steps out the exit door.

and when I opened it a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 364 . It was oddly very soothing to look at the thick dancing smoke swirling from the cigarette butt and going around and around like a ballerina on a music box. It was a leap of faith. because I really didn’t know what to expect. and knew that I could be captured. I was so happy to see there was no one in the alley way. The smoking cigarette butt used by one of the guards was right next to my foot.Spared stuck my head out the door. As a child I had a very small music box which was given to me by my step father for my 8th birthday. and I almost stepped on it. I found myself unable to take my eyes off of this nasty cigarette butt. I slowly walked out of the theatre and hid behind a big dumpster.

He would greet us quickly. to Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” song. stockings and shoes. and close his eyes. danced and swirled with her hands up in the air and her head tilted back. I would open it up and listen to it. He would hold his head up and tilted back. Whenever I felt lonely or distressed. Years later when I would visit my parent’s house. as if he was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 365 . as it seemed like he had an out of body experience every time he played this song on his black Wurlitzer piano. I listened to Fur Elise every single evening when my step dad came home from work.Spared small dainty ballerina wearing white ballerina suit. and go straight to his piano and play this song. Watching him play the piano was so fascinating and magical.

It felt good to feel that I was not alone. every bullet I dodged. move on. you are not safe there. and he was with me everywhere. and every tear I shed. Magic was made whenever my father and his piano met. Unfortunately I had Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 366 . It was as if telling me to stop daydreaming. and the astronomic task of going home without anyone seeing me. and together they gave life to every one of the lifeless notes that sat on the on top of his piano. An abrupt wind blew away the swirling smoke right in to my eyes and irritated them. I felt god’s presence in every step I took. but still I felt overwhelmed with the entire psychological trauma.Spared making love to every key as he gently stroked them.

It was twilight time. and there was still some visibility. That very small and narrow alley was a dead end. I found a large amount of rubble which was stacked up vertically. I walked across the alley way which was very narrow. I squeezed myself and hid under Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 367 . and covered by an old mattress behind a business which was obviously closed at that time of the night. and had no idea how to get there. I decided to wait just a little bit longer. or even how to begin. into another much smaller alley way Off of the alley way behind the movie theatre.Spared a long way home. and hide somewhere until it is completely dark before I make a serious effort to find my way back home. and much more secluded and dark.

I was always so terrified of bugs especially spiders. and I would have not cared. I had a stinging sensation in my left ear lobe. none of those seemed to matter.Spared the very dirty and heavy mattress which smelled like old urine. and needed to stretch them somehow to allow the blood to flow to my feet. It seemed so amazing that for the sake of survival. all my other fears had completely vanished. I felt so much more comfortable. Once I did that. There could have been a tarantula crawling on me. and all my fears of bugs seemed so insignificant. My legs were falling asleep as I was squatting. however that night. Suddenly I got startled by seeing something in my peripheral vision and I turned toward Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 368 .

I let out a huge sigh of relief when I realized it was a little brown and grey sparrow hopping toward me. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 369 . I was surprised to see it was not too scared of me when I tried to stretch my arms toward it. I noticed the poor bird only had one leg.Spared it to see what it was. It looked so very innocent. I was so overjoyed and thankful that the little sparrow allowed me to hold it. It was once again a reminder that I am not alone. I noticed his left wing was broken. but the injury looked old. He was not bleeding from anywhere. It came closer to me. It was looking at me with his 2 little beady eyes. “Ah”. and I was able to grab it easily.

I started thinking to myself about a plan to get back home.Spared Oooohhh that is why I was able to grab him. You have alley cats after you. and our house was somewhere in the north. Somehow I was so sure that the bird could understand. We make great friends little guy. We understand each other. Just like me. The only thing I knew was that I was in the southern part of Tehran. He hopped away and disappeared from my visual field. We are both struggling to survive. I wished I had paid attention when I was in the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 370 . but didn’t know how. I talked to myself. I said a prayer and send him on his way. and I have mean viscous guards after me. Alone and injured.

I wish she was hiding under the mattress with me. I thought once I make it closer to the Zhaleh square. so we Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 371 . or did she die? The thought of her death seemed so unreal. I tried very hard to back track to see if I remember how I got there.Spared taxi cab that drove me there that same morning. I would more than likely be able to tell from which direction we entered it. Since I had a little bit of time to kill. It was only hours ago when we were still talking to each other. I started thinking about whatever happened to Leyla again. The only problem was that there was no way to go back to Zhaleh square and risk being seen. and if she is still alive. I felt very frustrated and helpless.

safe and secure with my family. For the first time. Perhaps that was too selfish to wish. and even more than that was how I wished I was home in my own living room. I wished I could hear Leyla going on and on about how much she loves Sina. Oh how I missed my best friend Leyla. let alone now that it is all over the news about the massacre where my class was. who worried about things that didn’t need worrying. Then I started to think about my mother. Perhaps she was the lucky one to be gone and free of any of this terror and mental anguish I am going thru right now.Spared could comfort each other. and how many people died. and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 372 . I was already 6 to 8 hours late. but I could not deny that I missed her terribly.

I had no idea what time it was. I wish I could tell her somehow I’m still alive. when I realized the twilight had vanished. I know my mom. I started to panic because I just remembered Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 373 . I prayed very hard that my mom would find the strength. I was drowning in the sea of memories. like a sail boat without its sail.Spared knew my mom must be having a nervous breakdown. like a blanket. Maybe I come across a payphone. Oh god.. and the last thing I want is to be seen in middle of the street making a phone call but realized that I had lost everything. and darkness has covered all of Tehran. even the money in my pocket to pay for the cab fare home. drifting in every direction. but I have no money on me.

and the wind had picked up.Spared there is martial law in Tehran. and if they found me I could be executed on the spot. My heart rate started to pick up and going very fast again and anxiety commanded my body to react in strange ways. I started to shiver. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 374 . I was getting very cold. The wind wrapped itself around me like a scarf. I carefully crawled out of my safe hiding place and knew I need to move on and do it fast. as it meant no one would be in the streets to notice me. Martial law was in my favor in a way. and in every corner. which dictates every one must be at home by eight pm. but at the same time it was dangerous because there were soldiers in the all streets of Tehran.

but yet freezing and shivering at the same time. and had neither socks nor shoes. All I was wearing was a blue cotton shirt and a denim skirt. and I just didn’t feel very well as if a fever had just taken over me. My body seemed completely confused. I tippy toed to the end of the very narrow alley. Before I reached the alley way behind the movie Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 375 . I felt hot. I had lost my shoes and my sweater somewhere along the way. I tried telling myself that once I started walking or running I would get much warmer. My teeth were chattering so hard. and they were both damp and soaked with blood. By this time it was pitch dark and very easy for me to be on my way or so it seemed.Spared was covered with goose bumps.

and disappearing in to the dark. As I was trying to walk as carefully as I could.Spared theatre. I could smell rice and celery stew coming from inside the apartment. suddenly a door of the first floor apartment building opened up and I was faced to face with an older woman in her fifties or sixties. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 376 . I could see as far as my eyes could see that this alley way continued with the exception of one major street. Every once in a while you could see civilian people running very fast and very low. who got frightened by me. I saw another alley way to the left which still took me to the direction I needed to go. I wished I was that close to my home.

“Oh my god child. and dropped his bags. and had some grocery bags in his hand. let see what is wrong with her. I just stared at him. When I turned around he got a good look at me. who are you. what happened to you?” said the old woman. I couldn’t say anything. and was shocked and scared. what in name of god happened to you? Are you hurt?” he said as he grabbed my arm pushing me closer to their door. He was wearing a long dark coat. a hat. “Zari. quick get her in.Spared “Oh my goodness. At the same time an older man appeared out of nowhere and stood right behind me. poor girl is covered Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 377 .

“No. She grabbed the old man’s arm. and I came face to face again with the older lady who I think was called Zari. She looked both ways and said in a low voice. She stood in our way as if she didn’t want me to come in. get Saied to come and get the grocery bags. pushed me out of the way back in to the entrance of the apartment building. we can’t do that Jamshid. quick” He said to the old woman with urgency in his voice. He proceeded to push me toward the door way. Didn’t you hear from anyone? She Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 378 . and tried to pull him in instead.Spared with blood.

Jamshid. It is all over the news. you mean to leave a bleeding girl in the alleyway to die? I don’t know about you. hurry. I’m not taking any chances. He pulled my arm even harder and tried to go thru the door.Spared looks like she got hurt in the big Zhaleh square massacre. Get in quick. and lets close the door. They have been saying on TV. What if she was hurt and in the same situation? She is coming in and that’s that. Zari our own daughter is her age. Let her go. but I won’t be able to answer god in the judgment day.” said the old man. I felt like I was being pushed and pulled at the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 379 . you can get killed yourself. if you help anyone of the protestors.” “What are you saying Zari.

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 380 . It hurt my feelings that people would be unwilling to help one another under such circumstances. and said “I’m not allowing you to subject our family to bullets. and they finally went inside. get in before you get shot in the street yourself. I could hear them arguing as I ran the other way.” I started to walk away backwards for a few steps. and then ran as fast as I could. but I wasn’t sure what my family would have done if they were in their shoes. His wife had a very angry look on her face and she pushed me away from him.Spared same time. I felt very unwelcomed and didn’t want to be there any longer.

I could see the towering tree shadows above. I didn’t allow myself to doubt myself. Suddenly a very violent sound of a very large dog took my breath away. one could tell that you are going up the hill. As I was going thru the alley way I crossed a house with big metal double doors that had a garden of some kind behind it. then he is my guide now. My heart stopped a beat. I knew I was going from east to west which somehow felt right.Spared Streets of Tehran were on a very mild but gradual slope. and going north. and I got covered with goose bumps. My knee jerk reaction was to go and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 381 . I trusted my gut feeling and kept going toward west. If god wanted me to be the spared one for whatever reason.

The only thing that guided me was the pale moonlight sneaking out of the rushing clouds in the sky. which was a smelly garbage can. and I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself. The dog continued to bark and banged his body against the metal doors. I learned later that people were told to turn off their lights as much as possible due to either respect for the martial law. and although I didn’t understand why then.Spared hide behind the first thing I saw. I looked at Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 382 . or a sign of obedience. I knew I had to run and get away from there. as the dog was sensing my scent. In some areas it was so hard to see in front of me. Most houses had their lights off. and I hoped I didn’t fall in to a hole suddenly.

I enjoyed the calm and soothing songs the crickets were chirping. I had walked for a very long time. so I went and sat behind a car for a few moments to rest my aching and stinging feet. I was rubbing my hands together to generate heat. and give a burning sensation. but it just didn’t seem like it was working. and with single family homes on the other with walled off yards. and I needed to sit down.Spared many garbage cans for something or anything I could put on me or wear to keep me warm. The cold wind was so unkind as it was chilling my bones. but unfortunately didn’t find anything. Periodically the wind provided another calming Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 383 . Both sides of these alleyways were lined with apartment homes on one side.

I heard men talking. There was nothing to hide behind. so I just had to walk inside the area of a 4 story apartment building door frame. The nature’s lullabies were so pleasing. I walked backwards as I thought I heard them coming towards me. and finally reached a major intersection where I had to be very careful and lay low. and I passed several small street intersections. but sadly I simply could not sit there to enjoy it any longer.Spared melody as it bushed against the leaves of the trees. After a short time I was on my way again. and my heart was banging against my chest wall again. where you stand to ring the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 384 . and gently caressing them.

I don’t know who they were. and I realized that it was another major intersection. venders. so it doesn’t look like I am sticking out. and on the left side there was also empty streets going towards south of Tehran. On the right side there was a very long vast street going north. in order to get closer to our home. and I desperately needed to cross it. Each side of the street was wall to wall covered with closed stores. A 25 foot long Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 385 . I had to make myself leveled off with the door. but I didn’t think 2 men would casually walk in the streets when it was past the curfew.Spared bell. They had to be guards. and businesses. When the 2 guards were gone. I slowly and so carefully walked to the end of that alley way.

as the branches of sycamore trees from both sides came together as if they were holding hands. or Jube that was a shallow dirt bottom water channel. enormous ancient sycamore trees lined inside the Jubes. There were no vehicles on Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 386 . On the other side of the ravine. I knew that the ravine originated in the mountains in the north of Tehran. and they vary in size. flowing on both sides of the street. Jubes are very common in Tehran. and a ravine. and canopied over the street. The ravine direction was a good indicator of which way was north. and always drifted south.Spared sidewalk was in between the businesses. Looking towards north it seemed like the sky had a dome shaped ceiling.

and the traffic lights were all red and blinking. and not only did it confirm that I have been going north. but I also now knew where I was.Spared the road on either side. There was a self service restaurant on the very top floor where we went often with my mom and my aunt and cousins as children. I could not be happier. I recognized the businesses. If my estimation was correct. and it gave me so much needed hope and fuel to continue my journey. I only knew 2 streets in Tehran that had the Jubes running thru it. there was a big department store close by in another street nearby. I was so very happy to know that I’m on the right track. They Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 387 . and the stores I was passing by. called ”Iran” department store.

Both sides of the streets had dim street lights and I could see the 2 soldiers walking south far away from me. and it made me remember how long it had been since I ate. but as far as eye could see there were no barricades or military trucks on the north. I had never seen Tehran streets that way. I could see military trucks on the south side of horizon at least 6-7 blocks away. but I was not hungry at all. Even though it seemed like I got lucky.Spared had very yummy food. lights flashing. people crossing Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 388 . and it was so very creepy to see it so lifeless. These streets would usually be swarmed by honking cars. I had a deep knowing that it wasn’t so. and I had to ignore the false sense of security.

and the running water felt so good on my blistered feet. The ravine was usually so trashed. but they would also be the same people who would threw trash in there without any regards to keeping our city Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 389 .Spared the streets. condemning littering in the ravine. as people would often throw their garbage in there. venders selling their goods. I often found myself very upset at the fact that people were such Hippocrates. I got into the ravine channel. babies crying. as well as the running water in the ravine. and lights on everywhere. The streets were so quiet that I could hear the birds flapping their wings and flying above occasionally. I could also hear alley cats fighting nearby. without any regards to littering.

My teeth were chattering and my head was throbbing. I walked hunched over. and I tried to lay there motionless trying not to pay attention to my physical agony. trying not to be seen or noticed.Spared clean. and made me freeze and shiver again. I tried so hard not to allow my teeth to chatter that loud. That night I could care less what garbage I was stepping in and as a matter of fact it felt so very soothing to my burning feet. and I ducked down almost parallel to the mud and water. The coldness of water took my breath away. The sound of water flowing over rocks and tree roots was very soothing as well. as low as I could. Suddenly I saw a pair of bright lights from a jeep shining right at me. and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 390 .

Spared let my teeth bite on my lips instead. I could smell the cigarette smoke from their topless jeep. One of the soldiers was turning the flash light slowly to cover both sides of the street. I could hear 2 of them giggling about something. There were at least 5 men with military uniform and military hard hats. with rifles in their arms. It was a military jeep going so very slow with very bright flashlights. I chased them with my eyes until they had completely exited my visual field. trying to catch anyone who was still outside. I finally got out of the freezing mud. As they drove away from me. Then I held my hands under my armpits to warm them up. My feet were Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 391 . and washed my muddy hands in the ice cold water.

and were stinging in various different places. I continued my way north along the same street. My head was feeling very hot. The more I walked up north. without anyone seeing me. I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 392 . I have to make a dash across the street. I wish I could just turn it off. but I couldn’t get enough courage to cross under the circumstances. I thought to myself. I felt like I had the flu. I was hoping I get to a cross section where I can go across the street and continue going west. and my body was aching everywhere.Spared in very bad shape. It seemed like I walked for a very long time. How is that ever possible? There is the dim street light that cannot be turned off.

with more lights everywhere.Spared realized the harder it is getting to cross the street. there were about 4 or 5 guards who had gathered around a large metal Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 393 . because streets got wider. The 3 of them were enough to barricade the road and stop the foot and car traffic. It looked like a road block of some kind. I walked really low all the way up to it. but I wasn’t sure what it was. Beside the truck on the East side of the road. and a 3rd big army truck. bigger. I saw something in the horizon. That was a major intersection that I had to cross. and when I still had a safe distance from it. but it was a road block made of 2 giant troop carriers parked back to back. I realized that it was not a road block per se.

Tehran is a four season city. They all had their military hats on. the temperature seemed like subzero to me. and although it was only fall. There were 2 other guards who were going back and forth suspiciously guarding Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 394 . and fully armed as they carried their guns on their shoulder. The guards seem to be having a good time. I felt very sorry for myself. They were all wearing long military coats.Spared barrel with fire roaring in it. I scoped the area to see how many guards I have to worry about. and talking and laughing at something. I expected snowflakes to fall out of the sky at any moment. I envied them for having coats and warmth. I could see steam coming out of my mouth as I breathed.

and either direction requires me to go past this road block. I have to go either North or west. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 395 . God remained quiet. because that is just not the direction I need to go. They had their guns ready. and there were no other signs either. show me a sign. holding them up high as they walked around. I sat where I was still in the shallow canal. god please speak to me. How am I going to cross the street without getting caught? How? I can’t go South or East.Spared all directions. There was one guard who would make large circles going to the front of the parked troop carriers making sure there is no one on the north or the south of the roads. What do I do.

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 396 . Sitting in the wet muddy canal freezing to death was not the easiest thing to do. sit here in the shallow canal as long as it takes to see when I can safely go behind the trucks and get to the other side of the street. and make sure the guard who is going in circles has already passed from south side of the trucks to the north. I felt it was safe enough to run across the street right behind the troop carriers. All I have to do is to get close to the road block. and I can make my move then. but at the time it was the safest. I tried to reassure myself that it was the right thing to do. when the guard has made his rounds and gone to the north side of the trucks.Spared I decided that I will be patient.

I was almost there out of the ravine when suddenly all the soldiers turned their heads toward the north and held up their rifles ready to shoot. and I could be captured. I had to take that chance. One of them screamed. because doing nothing would mean being captured without a doubt.Spared otherwise I would be stuck in the ravine until sun came up. With that in mind I slowly and gradually crawled towards them. “HEY STOP THAT CAR” really loud. trying to be as quiet as possible. All hell broke loose. I had to make that leap of faith before the night is over. It was so hard to do. and killed. because it could also be my ending. and the sounds of cocking rifles Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 397 . with possibility of 100%.

where are you? I need you now. I felt frozen stiff where I was. It sounded like they shot in the air. No. and I have to gather my strength. no. At this point I could hear a car engine as well which screeched loudly and stopped. and petrified. but I am not sure really if it indeed was. two. I think I have heard enough of that today. three shots were fired. I can’t take any more shooting. god please no. God please listen to me. One. It just has to be OK. It was as if I was in the massacre all over again. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 398 . I slid down back in to the ravine.Spared echoed on both sides of the street.

and it wasn’t because I was cold. I noticed the very few lights that were still on inside people’s homes. My heart was beating so fast and banging against my chest like a restless bird in the cage. and building. People were scared too. Suddenly a screaming cry of a woman filled the air in the street. Then I heard a loud slap.Spared I was shaking uncontrollably. She was screaming constantly. I was actually so warm that I felt wetness on my forehead. but it was useless. I covered my ears. I could still hear everything. At the same time. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 399 . went off. and the last thing they wanted was to draw attention to themselves. It was pure terror.

which sounded like 2 people wrestling. do you want to die?” said one of the guards. A lot of banging. A man with an angry voice said. I heard a lot of noises after that. number of Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 400 .Spared “I told you to shut up woman. and then there was more rifle cocking noises. “Get down now!” Up until then I could only see guard’s legs from underneath the trucks. moans of a man saying “ouch ouch”. but as time went by. I could feel the horror that she was going thru. as I was visualizing that in my mind like a movie. The woman stopped and was crying but she wasn’t screaming any more. walkie talkies.

Suddenly I saw a man thrown on the ground on his back. The poor man was wearing a dark suit of some kind and looked to be around 40 years old. There were 4 or 5 rifles pointing at him. doubling the already existing group. He started pleading with shaky voice to the guards: “Please don’t hurt us. and the guard put his foot in big heavy boots. and in labor. I had to get my wife to the hospital. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 401 . He had his hands up in the air like to say I surrender. she is pregnant.Spared guards increased. please I am begging you sir. He was breathing very heavy with steam coming out of his mouth. It wasn’t clear to me where these other guards came from. and rested it on his chest.

She is in a lot of pain sir. Another slapping sound was heard. The woman stopped screaming. please understand and let us get to the hospital.Spared please don’t kill us. If it wasn’t for an emergency I would have never got out of the house. and more than likely impossible not to scream with pain. but this is an emergency. didn’t I tell you to stop screaming? You are lucky you are alive you ungrateful bitch. “I’m so sorry sir. I am a law abiding citizen. “I said shut your mouth up.” said the guard. but she said. and it hurts so bad. my water just broke too. I’m in labor. and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 402 . Poor woman was in labor.” At that time the woman started to scream again.

“Oh no. it is pouring out.Spared I don’t want to deliver here in this car. A hand helped the man get up.” The woman started to cry hysterically again. and begging to be released. I will shoot you in the hospital in front of everybody. do you understand?” “Yes sir” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 403 . and said. Officer. please let us go.” A pause followed by the sound of a car door opening. I could see the husband was struggling. it is drenched. there is blood coming out of her. look at my seat. and the guard said very loud. “If you 2 are lying. I’m not lying.

to prevent any more delays to the hospital. you’ll be Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 404 . “NO! Guard Mohammad is going to drive you. can I please get in the car and drive away now?” said the husband. and if you drive. and I’m not lying.Spared “I’m going to send 2 of the guards with you. and that is the only excuse I am willing to accept tonight from you. There are guards everywhere in every corner. So get out of here before I change my mind” “Yes sir. My orders clearly say to kill whoever is out after 8 pm. Your wife better produce a baby tonight. god be with you. and I have a General Oveissi to have to answer to.

I was wrapped up with thoughts of how traumatic it had to be for the poor pregnant woman to go thru this ordeal. pregnant or not. when this was supposed to be a happiest part of becoming a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 405 . I’m your servant. It was a sigh of relief to see they are on their way to the hospital. and owe our lives to you. Do you understand?” “Yes sir whatever you say. and If you try anything funny.” The sound of the car drive away in a rush manner confirmed they were gone. they have my orders to kill both of you in the car. and they won’t be as nice as us.Spared stopped again and again. You sit in the back with the other guard Keyvan. thank you sir.

My Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 406 . The guard who was going around was no longer there. Suddenly it dawned on me that this had to be the sign from god that I was wishing for. and felt very confident that it was a good time to make my move.Spared mother. It felt like it was miles instead of yards to get to the other side. I tippy toed across the large trucks. I made my move. and he wanted me to use it to get myself to the other side. but I had to be selfish to survive. I felt selfish to take advantage of the situation that caused 2 people such terror. When they were all getting in the car. I convinced myself that it was a gift from god. I could not see any more legs from underneath the trucks. and busy dealing with the husband and wife situation.

The street was curved a little bit to the south. but there wasn’t any one. A sigh of relief and feeling safe and secure engulfed my Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 407 . I could see now that it was a black sedan. I safely made it to the other side. God. and if they truly left. I found a corner and squatted down to see what happened to the couple. but it didn’t matter. I wish I was in that car going to safety. or looking at me. and got in a very narrow side street almost immediately.” but my legs kept on running as if they belonged to someone else. I knew it takes me to the north eventually.Spared brain said ”don’t go you fool. which soon accelerated and left the scene towards north. I looked back to see if anyone was following me.

Spared heart. The alley I had entered was very long and dark as if it was a tunnel. I felt a new surge of energy spread thru every cell of my body. I was very familiar with these streets now. I knew that I finally got to the other side. I felt like I can run a few miles easy. If it wasn’t for the stars shimmering in the black sky. I stood up to get ready to go down this dark alley. and knew my way home. and I could see the silhouette of cars parked on one Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 408 . and I am going to be safe at home soon. and I was prepared to do so. I would have thought I was going to be swallowed by a black hole. Even the black hole sounded safer to me in comparison to where I was just minutes ago. Nothing could be better than that.

Filled with hope and happiness. They were going east to west.Spared side of this side street. The road ended shortly to my surprise and I got to an area where there were a few businesses and shops on the sides of the street. and that left me feeling very vulnerable and insecure. It made me happy that I had a hiding place if I encountered military guards. There was not a whole lot of places I could hide. Before I crossed the street I heard 2 men talking and walking in my direction. I started to skip on the black asphalt road. and I was going south to north. and I knew that I would run Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 409 .

and hiding behind a car was not a good idea. I tried turning every door knob there was hoping I can sneak in someone’s house or courtyard. and I hysterically searched to find a cover or a place to hide. Unexpectedly the alarm went off. Goose bumps covered me all over. That street had more lights than other street. I looked around and there was nothing that I could hide behind or under.Spared into them if I continue going that direction. scaring me half to death. There wasn’t much time to think. The men were getting closer. and I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 410 . and I pulled on the handle of the first car next to me which was an orange Renault. I thought maybe there is a car door that might be open.

and could smell motor oil. After turning 3 or 4 door knobs. and it lead to a dirt floored yard. The double metal door was light blue. Feeling like I was just saved from certain death. but I was so very thankful. Why it was unlocked I will never know. I knew with the car alarm going off. they would want to investigate.Spared could hear their footsteps as if they were running. miraculously I was able to open a big double metal door. which was used for some kind of storage for tires or automotive parts. I certainly attributed that to a miracle sent from Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 411 . I could see the silhouette of stacked up tires. The lock was identical to what we had at my father’s house. I quickly but quietly closed and locked the door behind me.

Even after everything that had happened. I didn’t want to go any further in fear of knocking something over or running in to an object which would create noise and could let the guards know I was there. The car with the screaming alarm was parked right in front of the metal doors. I sat on the dirt floor behind stacked up tires close to the door. I heard the guards footsteps arriving to the scene. I closed my eyes in an effort to help with anxiety and to stop hyperventilating. I felt very dizzy. and I’m sure it was due to hyperventilation. So I tried to just sit there quietly and calm my heart down. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 412 . by breathing deep and slow. I still felt pretty lucky. and using their flash lights to see what is going on.Spared god.

“Maybe we should find out whose car this is. or some kind of creepy man is there in that yard with me.” As I had my eyes closed with my head resting on my folded knees. when strangely I felt a steamy breath on side of my face.Spared “Is there anybody here? Come out now. and by now it was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 413 . I was praying nonstop for the guards to go away. let’s ring the bells around here to find that out. I didn’t want to open my eyes to find out what it was. In a fraction of a second my mind already concluded that the guard is right there beside me.” said one of the guards.

and predicting and waited for a vicious attack any second. I truly think I stopped breathing. and to my surprise I saw a silhouette of a big dog right in front of me.Spared breathing continuously in my face. and only found my throat to be as dry as sand. and he walked a step closer. but did not try to attack me. Frozen stiff I tried to swallow. dying by bullets. I think I was still holding my Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 414 . I finally had to open my eyes to face the truth. or being ripped apart by a vicious dog. Why is it that the every creature in the universe was out there to kill me? Get in line! Unlike what I expected. the dog and I stared at each other for a few seconds. I could see his teeth shining in the dim moonshine. I didn’t know which one was worse.

I know it sounds strange. but I kept thinking the whole time Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 415 . what a sweetheart. I finally tried so very carefully reach my hand toward him so he can smell me. Even though I couldn’t take the dog with me. it gave me so much love. You probably need someone just like I do. I didn’t know it. What a loving dog. but it was exactly what I needed. I finally let out my breath. tenderness and security in the short time we spent together. and hugged it. To my astonishment. and went closer to the dog. He was matted.Spared breath. I grew up with dogs. and I certainly had a huge love for them. dirty. what a blessing. but all I could feel was surge of love going thru us as I held it tight. the dog licked my hand as he walked even closer.

trying to comfort me. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 416 . and rang the bell to investigate about the alarm of the car that went off. The first apartment building was 5 stories high. I was very appreciative. The guards at that time finally reached the apartment building. and helping me to get thru this. ease my fears.Spared that the dog must be a manifestation of god himself. Whether it was god or not. and was amazed of how god works in such mysterious ways. and was attached to the yard I was hiding. The dog did not bark even once the whole time we spent together.

This is the military guard. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 417 . we want to know if this is your car alarm that went off. I’m the man of the house.Spared After a while a faint sound of a woman said in the intercom. who is it?” “Open up. It’s an orange Renault” said one of the guards. “Hello sir. “Yes. There was a short pause. can you please wait a moment. you said you are the military guard?” said a man’s voice over the intercom.

I don’t know why it went off. A man from the 4th floor of that building yelled out. That car is mine. and his keys were jiggling in his hands. a young man opened the building door and stepped outside. After a few minutes.” “Get down here now. now someone get down here now to explain why this car’s alarm is going off this late at night. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 418 . “Sorry officers. I could tell by his voice he was very nervous. we want to talk to you” said the guard.” After a few moments the car’s alarm stopped beeping.Spared “Yes that’s what I said.

Third. but I don’t know what happened. and forth…. My alarm is so very sensitive that sometimes it goes off when a cat jumps on the car. like I said it is my car.Spared “Good evening sir. I have the keys to the car. and if was going out. I really apologize for disturbing you. I would disable the alarm first. my wife and baby are sleeping upstairs. Second of all. and would never want to violate that.” “How do we know that you weren’t going out?” “Oh no sir.?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 419 . I have no reasons to go anywhere. First of all I am very aware of the martial law.

” After the young man was gone. My heart skipped a beat or two. For one second I thought Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 420 .Spared “OK. and I covered my mouth trying to prevent myself from screaming. you have a good night. OK. “Thanks officers. get inside” said the guard. the 2 guards stood around right in front of the big metal door for a while talking. The dog remained silent. don’t get smart with me now. With the other hand I held the dogs mouth shut hoping he would not bark either. One of them tried to turn the door knob to the metal door.

I guess people are Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 421 . and his ass is mine. but the night is young. I think it may be true that it was just a cat. and the thought of that was so brutal. There were only inches of metal separating death from me. I know there is someone out here. “This is not just a case of accidental alarm going off by a cat. I haven’t had the chance to shoot anyone yet. but thank goodness it didn’t open.Spared to myself what if I didn’t lock it correctly. “Well. These damn alarms are so sensitive nowadays. and he is mine. I felt like I lost 5 years of my life.” said the guard right on the other side of the double metal doors where I was hiding.

let’s go back to our corner. and have a cup of tea. Hey do you have a cig?” I heard their footsteps getting farther and farther away from me. who would want to steal a car now when they can’t even drive it away” said the other guard laughing out loud.” “Ok lets go. People work like dogs for their money. “Ok. sure. Officer Salehi said he brought a big thermos full of hot homemade tea. I heard the windows of the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 422 . Beside. I sat there quiet for a while making sure there was nobody else around either.Spared really aware of rising car theft rate.

The street was very calm and quiet in perfect condition to make a go.Spared building next to me open and close also. and very carefully exited the metal doors. I looked out and didn’t see anyone in any direction. Curious neighbors wanted to see what happened. I decided that was the time to get out of there and continue the journey home. After not hearing anything for a long time. I hugged the dog one last time. The Capture Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 423 . thanked god again.

He quickly put the knife in his mouth. Big jolts of fear shook my body as if I was struck with a lightening. out of nowhere I was grabbed and pulled by what felt like a giant man with his hand over my mouth. I had only taken a few steps. when suddenly. I was violently yanked away from the side walk. His giant right hand Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 424 . I kept seeing myself in my mind lying in the street with blood pouring out of my wide open throat.Spared Confident of making it out of the automotive garage yard safe. I felt something sharp against my throat. He carried me as if I was a feather with no struggling or having to strain. Then I saw myself being raped by that big monstrous savage who grabbed me as I am begging him to stop.

or is this an easier kind of death? Uncertain of where he was taking me I continued my prayers. but why do I have to be raped or killed this way. and was confused what I can do. and I was so scared and that I thought my soul left my body.Spared wrapped around my waist. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Should I scream so all the other guards can hear me. and his left hand was held tightly over my mouth. why? I thought I was saved because you love me. I think bullets would have been easier. It was an out of body experience. God what did I ever do to deserve this. Cold sweat covered my body. I didn’t dare scream anyway to draw attention. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 425 .

where do you think you’re going this late at night? Don’t you know you could get raped or killed? Don’t you know the big bad wolf was out there to get ya? Ha ha ha ha” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 426 . to die by a crazed man in the dark? That’s it.Spared God. who do we have here. what is happening? I saw every sign from you that I was going to be safe? Is he a rapist? Is he someone who was trying to help me? Or was this a guard? What does he want from me? I have survived the massacre and the streets. I am done. “Well well well. I thought to myself. This is where it ends for me. little red riding hood? Look what the cat dragged in.

He sounded so proud of himself. That is when I figured out it had to be a military guard. He didn’t seem to be worried about being quiet. and I experienced so many varieties and levels of terror all in one day that terrible day. The terror of not knowing if you will be Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 427 . and you eventually had to come out from your hiding place sooner or later” said the man dragging me away. but was still uncertain. which smelled like smoke. “I knew there was no cat setting off that alarm. His right hand that was covering my mouth was wearing a glove.Spared Said the man laughing out loud. even to this day. Not knowing what will happen is one of the rawest terrors I have ever experienced in my whole life. like a hunted prey.

You either struggle for survival. but somehow you have given in and surrendered to the death. It was as if my body had Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 428 . I was welcoming death.Spared tortured. raped. and I wasn’t shaking with fear. and then there is another kind of terror where you are aware of possibility of dying in some cruel and twisted way. but it doesn’t matter anymore. and you pray to god to survive it. My brain felt like it had had it. beaten. or you welcome death. My heart wasn’t banging as hard anymore against my rib cage. It seemed like there is a kind of terror where your whole body is reacting. You still feel the agonizing pain and terror. or chopped up to pieces dances around in your head fertilizing the ever growing anxiety.

In the faint light from the street I could see the outline of his body. with his military hat. I don’t care anymore.Spared finally accepted that I cannot win. Tired and defeated. A big long object bobbed in the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 429 . I kept thinking to myself: That is just fine. and I’m done with struggling to survive. and I could tell that he was a military guard. long coat. and gloves. He raised his right hand and grabbed my breast and squeezed very hard. go ahead and kill me. the better. But no words came out of my mouth. I give up. The sooner. I was dragged for a few steps he finally threw my limp body on the ground in the side alley.

and I realized if I struggled. It felt like the claws of steel was digging in to my bones. He took the knife out and stuck it in my neck under my chin. and said. but I remained Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 430 . Eventually he put both my wrists in one cuff and closed the lock. or I’ll cut your throat. Soon he realized that the handcuff was way too big. and I realized it was his rifle. I was not able to see his face. That hurt so bad. “Don’t you move. and my wrists could slip out so very easily.Spared dark shadow. He seemed so proud of himself to catch me. Then he threw me on the ground on my stomach and put a handcuff on me. it would hurt even more.” And then he took a handkerchief out of his pocket. and wrapped it around my mouth very tight.

grabbed my waist and moved me right next to him. or just didn’t want to breathe anymore.. and asked. and came closer.He let out a pleasing sound. When he felt certain that I am too scared to scream. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 431 . He took a good look all around and then stood me back up against the wall again. he moved up my choker. Umm…. With the other hand he pulled me forward to himself and grabbed my butt. I think I stopped breathing for a while.Spared quiet. He reached his hand and grabbed my breast again squeezing hard. I am not sure if I couldn’t breathe.

painful and violent sex. and couldn’t spit out the words out of my mouth. I gave in to death.Spared “So what’s your name. don’t you know we have a martial law in effect? Ha ha ha ha…. I never really knew what people do exactly when they have sex. but I knew rape is supposed to be forceful. not rape. I’m going to get raped. I was disgusted and paralyzed. and how old are you? And what are you doing out this late at night. Anxiety came over me when I realized it was no longer just a possibility and I will be raped right there and then. That’s it.” His breath smelled like onions and an ashtray. Even peaceful sex was scary to me. let alone a forceful Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 432 . Even though I was seventeen years old.

what happened to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 433 . and had no idea what sex was all about. He struggled to get something out of his coat pocket and finally brought out his flash light and shined it right in my face. I just like most girls in Iran. As a knee jerk reaction I shut my eyes because of the bright light shining right in to my eyes. He stopped and moved the choker back on my mouth. “Oh my god. but this time I prayed to die instead of rape. moved me back and started spitting as if he tasted something very foul. I started to pray again.Spared one. “What the hell is the matter with you? What do you have all over you?” He wipes his mouth with his coat sleeve. and he paused. He nibbled on my neck. lived a very sheltered life.

” I truly wanted to speak. My body started to react again. He pulled the mouth choker out of my mouth. I tried so hard to talk but nothing was coming out. what the hell is wrong with you? Talk. Again nothing came out of my mouth. but I felt like I was mute. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 434 . “Answer me.Spared you? You are covered in blood. Are you hurt? Said the guard with surprising sudden caring tone in his voice. and started to shake uncontrollably. and got angry. so he won’t yell at me anymore.

and this was a bad mistake.. a huge misunderstanding. and how I was stuck in the crowd and couldn’t get out. are you?. and yelling at me at the same time. and I‘m not the government’s enemy. can it be? Are you one of the damn protesters from today in Zhaleh square? Say something!” I tried again. He got frustrated and was shaking me vigorously. I wanted so bad to explain why I was all bloody.Spared “Oh my god….. you don’t say…. but what came out sounded like just air. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 435 .

Spared “Open your damn mouth and talk. but I would have preferred to be shot than slapped. It sounds strange. He got even more furious with me Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 436 .” He raised his hand and slapped me so hard that it made my ears ring. The hard slap wasn’t only physically painful. He was still shaking me and demanding an answer. I had never ever been slapped in my life before. not even a simple spanking. but I could no longer hear what he was saying. it was emotionally torturous and scarring also. because my ears were ringing so loud. Nothing came out of my mouth. or I have to assume that you are a protestor and shoot you right here like a filthy dog.

which I don’t remember what it was. and was saying something in to it. My arms were stretching backwards. As I adjusted my eyes going from absolute darkness to the bright lighted street corner. and the pain that it caused was excruciating. and dragged me on the ground toward the lighted street. At the same time. he took out his walkie talkie. I could hear the gravel grind together underneath me and feel the pain of my skin being ripped off my body as the soldier easily dragged my tiny body behind him.Spared and he grabbed me by the free handle of the hand cuff. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 437 . and I started screaming in pain. My shoulders seem to be close to dislocation or fracture.

I would take beating and hair pulling over that anytime. Ah what a relief that my arms are not being stretched backwards anymore. I could see thru my swollen. stores. Not a residential street but a street full of shops. The soldier stopped at a light post. As the soldier continued to drag me to what seemed like an eternity. grabbed me by my hair and stood me up. I have walked Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 438 . watery eyes that I was at the end of a street. I was crying and coughing uncontrollably but couldn’t get any words out of my mouth.Spared He stopped and kicked me very hard in my side that took my breath away. and said. and offices. and strapped me to the light post. “Oh so you can scream but you can’t talk? I see what kind of game you are playing”.

we came to the road block where there were more trucks and troop carriers. and I was next. There were also several trucks. and a lot more light illuminated the street. because I knew that they must have killed someone in the very spot. As I looked around I saw large amounts of fresh blood on the ground.Spared in front of these stores many times to get to school every day. and sad that this time may be my last. Once out of that street. and suddenly the gravity of the situation weighed heavily on my mind. The setting was very similar to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 439 . to the same light pole I am tied to. and troop carriers parked to block the street. My level of fear went up another gear when I saw the blood.

Spared the one I had passed by several times. I just stood there trying to see what they are going to do to me next. There was a fire in a metal barrel as well. as if they were stunned of what they saw. and some anger. Some had strange grins on their faces. Some ran to it to see what Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 440 . I cannot imagine what I must have looked like. There must have been 15 guards and 10 other personnel. but it must have been very shocking. and there was a street light illuminating the area where all the guards were all standing. All eyes were on me. No one moved or said anything for a few seconds. Suddenly sounds of commotion broke the silence. and all the guards looked at the same direction. and they all stood there staring at me.

A guard who was on a walkie talkie finally announced: “Everything is ok. Officer from the north side said they had to take care of a curfew violator who tried to run away. Loud and desperate screams was echoing in the street followed by shots. and then echo again. two.Spared was happening. It sounded like something was happening in the next road block. A few guards clapped in happiness. Am I hearing it correctly? Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 441 . and acted as if they had achieved an honorable task. as the sounds of bullets shooting bounced back and forth off the buildings. Everyone looked like they were trying to figure out what had happened. One. three.

as he was telling him a story using his hands a lot. I followed the guard who had found me with my eyes. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 442 . Aaahhhh my god.Spared They are clapping hands in happiness of killing someone? Oh my god. My whole body started shaking out of control. I repeated on and on and on in my head after realizing this is it. He was very animated. I saw 2 people exiting out of that lighted tent. He ran inside one of the tents. and he was hoping for recognition. how heartless can they be? And I suppose I am a violator too. I am going to die. I am going to die. It was obvious that he was so proud of finding me. and was speaking with someone. I am going to die. I could see his shadow from the outside very clearly.

but I didn’t understand.Spared There was a lot of talking going on among everyone. but all eyes were on me. Right after that about 15 soldiers lined up in front of me. Is it supposed to be psychological torture to stall? I thought to myself. this is what people feel right before execution. An unfamiliar voice said something. There were no emotions in anyone’s face as if they were robots. It sounded like something specific to the Army lingo. must have seen and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 443 . The endless number of people. who had lost their lives in the name of political belief. They stood there for what seemed like a life time before anything happened. never taking their eyes off me.

especially now that it is obvious to them that not only have I violated the martial law. But the truth was that I was not antishah. I never belonged to any political groups or went to any meetings. or pro-Khomeini. without any trial. I never participated in any protests. What made me any different. I had heard so much in the news about people who were executed every single day. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 444 . or communist. or Mujahidin.Spared experienced what I am witnessing right now. or…… I was so good at not having an opinion just like my mom instructed me. I also have participated in the Zhaleh square protest. or pro-Khomeini or communist. except for my accidental participation same day of course. because they were anti-shah.

Spared and avoided any one who wanted to get me to join them. I remembered what my grandmother Shahrbanoo had told me once when I was only 7 or 8. However. and is also known to be the Angel of Death. and I was not entitled to a trial. Anything expect for the wish to be spared from dying. That wish is Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 445 . When Gebrail comes to earth to take someone to heaven. if it is wished at the moment your soul steps out of your body. they had numerous reasons and justifications to execute me. She said there is an angel in the book of Koran called Gebrail who brought messages from god to Mohammad the Muslim’s prophet. anything that person would wish for will come true.

when your time is up. because god will only send Gebrail. and wished for peace for my mother who was never going to see me again. I could still see shadows of men. I wished her strength to get thru the mourning process. I closed my eyes. a soldier placed a blindfold on my eyes and knotted it behind my head. Reaching from behind.Spared impossible. and said my last prayer. After a few torturous minutes of absolute silence and disbelief. I heard: Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 446 . and from under the blindfold I could see their shoes and the blood soaked ground.

Spared “Ready” Said the same loud voice. I started hyperventilating. Soldiers grabbed their rifles simultaneously. and got in to shooting positions. I took a deep breath in. and pointed them right at me as if they were getting ready for execution. and could feel my heart beating faster than it has ever beaten before. but I couldn’t tell where he was or who he was. I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 447 . and felt a sharp pain that squeezed my heart.

The sky was pitch black. mourning my upcoming death. I struggled for air. “Do they really believe that this skinny little girl is capable of committing such atrocity against the government to warrant an execution?” I thought to myself. I could see numerous shining stars spread everywhere like diamonds lying on black velvet cloth. “Get set” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 448 .Spared could not catch enough air in to my lungs. and it was as if even the sky was wearing black.

and facing at least 15 rifles pointing at me. It is a scene no teenager or any human being for that matter should ever see. I felt streams of warm tears running on my cold face and fall on my bare feet with dry blood and mud on them. The clicking noises of the rifles echoed in the street. I thought it would have been so much easier if I were killed in the massacre. blindfold on. I was in middle of a circle with my hands tied behind my back. The only thing I could think of was the fact that I needed my mom so very badly.Spared Said the man’s voice in charge. The word scared does not even justify the emotional terror I was going thru. Somehow I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 449 .

My tears were still flowing and I felt them run over my face and throat. Defeated and abandoned by god. ready to witness this great entertainment. I felt like the defeated gladiator surrounded by mass murderers and lions. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity. All the other military people were standing around frozen. cleaning the thick dried up blood. and disappearing in my blood saturated shirt. It was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 450 . and all the soldiers were still standing there in front of me ready to shoot. and he knows his time is up and this is the end. Nothing was happening.Spared didn’t feel so lucky and spared anymore. I was certain I had no guilt. and have done no wrong. I lowered my head towards the ground.

then take me away. please if this is your will. I surrender. I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 451 . I’m ready.” After a second of pause. “God. “Stop” “Put your guns down. all soldiers put their guns down and held them up in their arms pointing at the stars. of all my alleged sins. please let me lean on your shoulders” I said to myself.Spared as if my face was getting baptized clean.

He was the voice that ordered soldiers to get ready to shoot me. and authority. or did he just stop the firing squad?” I thought to myself.Spared opened my eyes in disbelief hoping to figure out what just happened. and looked different than all the other military shoes. Why? Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 452 . His shoes were shiny. “What? Did I hear right? Was I dreaming. He must be the one who was standing outside the execution line. I could see the silhouette of a man emerging in front of me. pride. and he was the voice who stopped it from happening. He stood there with such elegance.

and I’ll be there shortly.I was looking down and didn’t know if a direct eye contact would mean defiance. and hands.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 453 . “Lift up your face so I can see it” he said with an authoritative voice. He ripped my blindfold off. I could see from under the blindfold that he came very close to me and stood in front of me. He motioned to a couple of guards. I continued to sniffle and trying not to cry out. He walked back and forth in front of me never taking his eyes off me.Spared There was complete silence all around. tie up her legs. He walked around me in a circle . “Take her to my tent. Stay with her until I come in.

Spared “Yes sir” and two guards grabbed my arms and led me toward the lighted tent. to come here quick. I had talked myself in to being OK with death and at peace with the execution. I need to speak to him right away” said the Officer. and now what is going to happen to me? God why are you playing these games with me? Do you even care anymore? Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 454 . “Get Officer Habibi on the walkie talkie from the north side. As I was walking away. I was truly disappointed. I could see that he paced around with his hands holding behind his back. I heard.

the end of life. and here I am faced with worse problems than death. actually does. A part of me wanted to act up. run. something to make them shoot me. scream. I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 455 . Nothing was certain anymore. serenity. Death was the absolute promise of tranquility.Spared This sounds crazy. disobey. Death is the end. as well as the end of misery and sorrow. I guess I felt suicidal. that what I expect to happen. and resolution for me. Now what was going to happen? Now I have a lot more uncertainty and anxiety. I needed certainty and predictability. but there is a comfort and peace that goes with knowing you will be executed in a matter of minutes.

I beg of you to shoot me. tired. They also put a very strong duck tape on my mouth. hopeless. I was taken to the lighted army colored tent that had kerosene light inside it. For the first time my thoughts were blank.Spared wanted to scream and say “somebody please shoot me. I wasn’t even angry with god for putting me thru this anymore. and empty.” but not a word exited my mouth. They sat me down and tied me to a metal foldable chair. I sobbed and I sobbed and held my head down. and also tied up my feet together with a rope. I was deeply depressed. I had absolutely no thoughts what so ever and emotionally numb. I just wished I was invisible or Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 456 . There were mosquitoes buzzing around it.

After some time. He took off his hat and placed it over a picnic type table that was there in the corner of the tent. and seem to be nice mannered. He was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 457 . I looked up. He was a handsome man. but had too much tears in my eyes to see him clearly. For the first time. had a scruffy face. He crossed his arms and placed then on top of the back rest and rested his chin on top of his both hands. I saw this nameless Officer close up. the guards became erected saluting. The guards stayed right outside of the tent guarding.Spared dead. and my vision got better. I tried squeezing my eyes. and then the Officer who stopped the firing squad came in and grabbed another metal folding chair and placed it back ward and sat on it.

He seemed so very familiar. I kept waiting to see what he wants to say to me. and I squinted my eyes thinking he wants to slap me. but I couldn’t put my finger on who he really was. I kept thinking I have definitely seen him before. He brought his hands close to my face. I didn’t scream but it hurt badly. but to my surprise he took off the tape over my mouth with one big and fast movement. and hoped that I wouldn’t be slapped or kicked again. and smelled like faded cologne. He started to walk back and forth pacing the floor again. “Do you know why you are still alive? Do you? The only reason I didn’t kill you out there is your age and other Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 458 .Spared balding a little bit.

but I just cannot picture where I have seen you. I don’t know how old you are. but you can’t be any more than 15 or 16. I could have ordered you to be shot. You just don’t strike me as the rebellious type. and your address. and we also have been killing all the survivors of the Zhaleh square. your phone number. There was Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 459 . I need to know what your name is.Spared reasons. and I don’t want to kill a child. So as you see. and I almost did. You either killed someone. But regardless of how old you are we have full authority to shoot you for being out at this time of the night. I have a young child myself. or you were one of the anti-shah protestors in zhaleh square today. I also want to know where you got all this blood on you.

The maximum security prison for criminals or the Evin prison? You better start explaining. A man was stabbed to death. So I needed to rule out that possibility also. before I draw my own conclusions” said the Officer in a calm and confident tone as he walked back and forth in front of me. They were Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 460 . Evin? I had only heard horror stories about the Evin prison. Everyone knew that once arrested and taken to Evin. which prison I should send you to instead. you may never come back. So see I have to decide that if I don’t execute you. and I think you could be the killer.Spared a murder a few blocks from here tonight. It was a maximum security prison for political prisoners. Oh my goodness.

and I certainly didn’t want to get him in trouble. I have an out I think.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 461 . But what if they would go and arrest them also. or demote him because I was in the protest.Spared notorious for savage tortures and executions. Why does he want my name or address? Is he going to make trouble for my parents too? My dad was a respectable army general. let alone murder a man. and send him to the Evin prison. Oh my goodness. And murder? Me?” I didn’t even have a heart to kill a mouse. maybe I should mention my dad’s name.” Then I had a light bulb going on. And I am so very innocent. I knew execution was a much better alternative.

or may be a participator in high school riots. “Are you deaf?” Said the Officer. I don’t know if you were a previous arrestee in Evin. Suddenly I heard a very loud whistle in my right ear. First he walked around and kept staring at me.” At this point he went behind me. infecting the society. I wasn’t sure what he was doing there. He stopped. raising his voice a bit. and said “I’ve seen you somewhere. Or it may be somewhere else. and the chair went back with me. I jumped up. The Officer put my chair back up with me in it. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 462 .Spared Again I struggled to say something but I could not say anything. and I fell and bumped my head. and placed it back where it was.

but had no idea what it was going to be.” I could tell they had a plan.” Then he yelled out. I am glad to see you are not deaf. I didn’t mean to be defiant. guard Kaveh. “Listen. if not. No matter how hard I tried no words would Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 463 . I truly wanted to talk. He turned the chair around and sat back. Guard Hassan. “So. and if you are a good girl then great. and I am going to ask you one more time. I guess he wanted to reassure the guards that there was no trouble. I’m going to have to do something about it. He asked.Spared and came back with a smile on his face. I am not playing any games here. I could feel my goose bumps everywhere. come in now. “Everything is OK”. but couldn’t. I had to clear that up.

I force my mouth to open and say something anything. but it seemed impossible. “So. and I felt so very nauseated. I turned my head around and my eyes met with guard Hassan. One of the soldiers came in and stood behind me. I shook my head to mean I can’t talk. but he must have thought I mean no. I knew I was in trouble. that’s the way you want to play the game. I was shaking as if I was left naked in middle of the Antarctica. and he gave me a very angry look.Spared come out of my mouth. My heart rate sped to an incredible rate. and that’s fine with me” Said the Officer and got up and kicked his chair Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 464 . The other one stayed by the tent opening.

and in a flash he had a whip in his hand. I never saw where he got it from. and grabbed by my hair. The Officer made a motion to the guard who was standing behind me.Spared back. Everything they did look rehearsed and coordinated as if all three of them had practiced this move many other times. The chair flew out of the tent. but it looked like a black colored belt. Two people tie up the front and back legs together and another one hold the neck down and the third would slaughter the animal by slitting its throat. and thrown on the ground on my stomach. I was trying to look up and see what they Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 465 . I was untied from the chair. This reminded me of when sheep are sacrificed.

but I did see it. I don’t think he wanted me to see that signal. Before I had time to figure out what the 3 fingers meant.Spared are trying to do to me. and he showed the guard 3 of his fingers. and lighting a cigarette. I saw the Officer in the corner sitting on top of the table. I heard the guard counting “ONE” I felt the whip hit me across my back producing sensation of being burnt with thousands of red hot metal Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 466 .

Another heart wrenching scream came out of my mouth. I had never even imagined any pain could be this severe.Spared rods. burning pain went across my calves. I let out a blood curdling huge scream from the top of my lungs as I arched my back… the whip dug in to my back. and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 467 . I was squirming and trying to catch my breath when I heard: “TWO” I got hit on my calf. I have never known pain like that ever before.

I felt it ripping my skin open. I felt like I was going to get sick. took my Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 468 . It felt as if a burning iron was pressed tightly to my calf and stayed there. “THREE” I got struck for the third time on my wrist and right thigh.Spared metastasized all throughout my body. The feeling of being stabbed by a thousand sharp needles at the same time injecting me with hot boiling acid. I tried to shake my leg to get rid of that sensation but I was unable.

and I threw up. but the only thing that was rejected was my stomach bile.Spared breath away. My head was spinning. The pain had penetrated not only all over my body. My Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 469 . I truly think your body does something to protect you. It was as if my body was rejecting the pain. but also my soul. to prolong your survival. and my vision was doubled. but you can just handle it better. You still feel the pain with the same brutal torturing intensity. as if to conserve your energy or your spirit. and I started getting sick. They put the garbage bin in front of me. They jerked me back up to sit on the same chair. I didn’t scream that time. I think that “something” is emotional numbness which is a blessing from god.

whip. and you have 15 minutes to start talking or writing. I was so afraid he was going to slap. grabbed his hat and coat and left the tent. kick. wrist. or beat me again. I’ll leave you with these guards. unless you give me your name. address. They opened up the hand cuff that was digging in to my wrists. The 2 guards Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 470 .Spared back.” He dropped his cigarette and stumped the butt with his shoe next to my feet. He bent over and told me. and telephone number. and calves were stinging and shaking uncontrollably. “Your 3 lashes would be doubled next time. The Officer brought a notepad and a pen and put it on the chair in front of me. I wanted to be quiet and listen but I kept on crying hysterically.

I was surprised to see any compassion coming from him. and just couldn’t stop. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 471 . I looked behind my calf and realized that the skin was also broken and actively bleeding. if you can call lashing an innocent person compassionate. I cried and cried and cried. I lifted my wrist. and there was an inch long tear. but of shock maybe. I thought to myself that perhaps the Officer understood that my inability to talk is not because of defiance. and saw a burgundy colored one inch strip bruising behind my forearm. That is why he offered a notepad and a pen.Spared stood outside the tent where I could easily see them.

until the pain and stinging and crying would go away. and tried to say something. I held my head in my hands. and perhaps I can talk then. I stretched my right hand to grab the pad and pen. I thought perhaps if I just wait a few minutes. I tried my left hand but it trembled just as bad. and wanted my head to stop spinning. as I felt like god had let me down. but it started trembling uncontrollably. Why bother when my only savior Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 472 . I got sick again. So I put my right hand back on my lap again. I felt worse than before I threw up. but realized that I didn’t even want to pray anymore.Spared I desperately tried to see if I could talk. and my calves felt like they were on fire. but nothing came out. I thought of praying again.

and it took a lot of strength to not let them fall.Spared had abandoned me? I felt angry and resentful. but I managed to see the words on the pad. There was no good reason why an innocent girl should go thru all this pain and misery. but my hand was shaking Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 473 . On the pad it was hand written: “Name: Address: Phone number: Father’s name: Mother’s name:” I made a conscious choice to stop crying and feeling sorry for myself. I started writing. My eyes were still very wet and blurry. I refused to find anything positive that could possibly come out of it. Gathering all my strength I moved both my hands toward the pad and pen and grabbed them both.

I could hear Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 474 . Again I tried. Please. “No.Spared so very badly. Killing him with one bullet versus 15 in a formal execution. No. and then a single bullet ripped thru the dark night and then dead silence. He sounded like he put up a fight and they had to kill him immediately. He probably didn’t stand still like I did. and it looked like chicken scratch. I turned the pad over and started over in a new page. So I tried again. I could hear sounds of men struggling as if to tie him up. please. let me go. but it looked unrecognizable. and suddenly I could hear a man screaming from the top of his lungs. what difference does it make? Another soul was wasted away. I’ll go back please” He cried and pleaded.

Someone else said loudly. “get him out of here. so we can coordinate” “Yes sir. it started again. Then several men could be heard talking among each other. The words were mumbled as if it was only a street over. the bastard had a gun on him”. the violent noises coming from outside the tent. Call the north road block to see if they need to have any bodies removed.” Only a few seconds later. but I could swear it Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 475 . I don’t want to look at this animal here anymore. “Look.Spared soldiers taking.

things always come in three’s. when is it going to end? I crawled and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 476 . so many wasted lives. So much killing. and started to cry and cry. I can’t take it anymore. The guards standing outside didn’t look like they were affected at all by the executions that they just witnessed.” Multiple gunshots all simultaneously went off and echoed against the surrounding buildings. and finally someone said “Fire. “I told you. so much blood. and one said to the other. I started hyperventilating.” To me that meant 2 people just got killed.Spared sounded like my own incomplete execution words.

but I just had to let it pass by. and toes were all getting tingly. My lips. I knew I had to get my act together. I felt like I couldn’t get air deep enough in to my lungs and breathing very shallow and rapid. The guards looked inside. I had no idea what the time was and how long I have been Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 477 . and finish this list. Again my rage against god was ignited. finger tips. I had to stop hyperventilating. I tried not to think about the poor souls out there get shot to death. hugging my knees in a fetal position. and I was running out of time. I was fully aware that I was having a full blown panic attack. but didn’t say anything or do anything.Spared sat in the corner of the tent.

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 478 . “Good”. He looked at it and said. He looked out the tent as if he wanted to see if there was anyone listening. I was hoping that would be it. but it was legible. It didn’t look great. and then came back inside and said. and I was able to provide all the needed information. I hoped that they would let me go now.Spared there. would they? Or was the next destination Evin? The guard that gave me the lashes came in and asked if I was done with the list? I handed the notepad with shaky hands. Third time was a charm.

My fear was that something worse than execution would be waiting for me. He left the tent.” He looked kind of puzzled. I don’t know why. He hasn’t forgiven anyone before. and left the tent with the notepad. and I could hear walkie talkie’s going off. and jumped every time I heard footsteps. and for the first time. I don’t know. Go and thank your lucky stars that the Officer saved your life. I must have dozed off for a few moments when the Officer who was interrogating me came back to the tent with 3 other Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 479 . but …can’t say. I sat in the corner of the tent for an eternity it seemed. My heart rate was going back to normal.Spared “You should have been executed out there tonight. I was starting to feel normal.

He just stared at me for few minutes. He told one of the guards to untie my ankles. They all had the look of fright and shock on their faces. but I got frightened and covered my face and head in fear of getting slapped. and laid them on another chair. Again he took off his hat and his coat. and sucked on his cigarette producing a thick cloud Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 480 . I immediately thought Oh no.Spared guards. To my surprise he grabbed my arm and picked me off the floor and pulled a chair for me. He sat on the picnic table again. what are they going to do to me now? More lashes? Did I not do what he asked me to do? The Officer reached his hand out to me to help me off the floor.

because we wanted to see what kind of parents would let their daughters out at this time of the night. He smoked the entire cigarette before he finally sat back down. and send some soldiers to show up at your house. The curiosity was killing me to see what the matter is. “I was about to check out your address.Spared of smoke. but kept pausing as soon as he would open his mouth. I still don’t know why you are all bloody the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 481 . and give your parents a rude awakening. I was very upset. in deep thoughts. He finally started talking. and looked like he was going to say something to me. He asked the guards to step out and leave us alone. Then he started to pace the floor back and forth.

Then I noticed what you wrote on that paper. do you understand?” I nodded YES. or maybe you are mute. to see what I read was accurate since your hand writing is so hard to read. “Your address is 774 Hakhamanesh Street.” I nodded YES.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 482 . I know you can’t talk. but you sure can scream! Anyway you are going to have to move your head to say Yes or NO. but I have to confirm with you.Spared way you are. “Your name is Nastaran Akhavan.

Just relax.” Oh sure. and just write it down. Why is he being nice to me all of a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 483 .Spared YES “Your father’s name is Dr. “Now you must tell me what his full title is. or end up in prison. This will determine if you can go home free. and let me tell you this makes every difference in the world. no need to be afraid. he expects me to relax right after telling me I may be sent to Evin or get executed. or even executed. Aram Noori?” YES He paused for a few second and said.

” I handed him the notepad. “But you said your last name is Akhavan?” I nodded yes. and all the color from his face drained. He looked at the note pad. he said. “Then how can you be his daughter?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 484 . After pausing and staring at the notepad. and looked as white as a sheet.Spared sudden? Isn’t he the same guy who ordered executions of 3 people out there few minutes back? I obeyed and wrote down in the same bad hand writing “General Doctor Aram Noori.

He gave me the pad. this nightmare is just getting worse. with my mom and General Noori. “Why are you bloody? You need to explain that to me. Dr. and even stopped the execution. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 485 . I’ve been patient with you. “Who do you live with? Your biological father or General Noori?” I wrote down. in jeopardy. and I wrote: “He has been my step dad ever since I was 8 yrs old. Oh no.” He read my note and asked.Spared I nodded yes and motioned to get the note pad. I have put Mr.

and here I am protesting against the very government that he works for? Perhaps the truth is always better than anything else. I motioned to get the pad. how is that going to look for my dad? He is working for the shah’s regime. I won’t hurt you anymore. yes or no?” If I say I was in the protest. Were you in the protest today. it’s OK.Spared so you owe me an explanation. now tell me. I promise. I wrote: Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 486 . He sat on the table and lit up another cigarette. as if he knew this could take some time. and took a long time to complete the following.

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 487 .” I handed the pad back. because I am telling you the truth. I swear I did not purposely go there. when the riots of Zhaleh square started. and carried away to the square. I’m not sure why or how I survived. why would I go protesting against it? I love my stepdad and would never do anything that might hurt him.Spared “Please believe me. and was among the people who got shot. I was in a class room taking an English test. I got mixed up with the protestors. You can verify that with my parents. and looked back up at me. as he scratched his scruffy face. My father is a general for the shah’s government. He read it.

I’m sure we missed you. right?” I nodded YES. as a matter of fact. every building and searched for any survivors. so in a way you got me in trouble as well. “Now I have to explain to my superiors why I didn’t kill you. we thought we had already killed the runaways. but looking at the way you look. This is a huge crime. and again tears started rolling down my cheeks. We knocked on every door.Spared “I didn’t think there were any survivors. Believe me Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 488 . How the hell did you get away with that? You know we have strict orders to kill any survivors. this was very serious.

or protesting against the government. I’ll be back.” He looked as if he had overcome a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 489 . You know how disappointed General Noori will be when he finds out you participated in the protest as involuntary as you say it was? They probably think you are dead. and said. He stood in the tent reading the note again. didn’t you?” I nodded YES again. I just held my face in my hands and cried feeling ashamed and guilty. violating curfew.Spared there is no forgiving when it comes to martial law. “Just relax. and you almost did get yourself killed several times today. He took the notepad then put his coat and hat back on.

There was nothing else to do but wait. and I heard my Mr.Spared difficult task. but unfortunately I could not recognize anything else. Dr. but had to. I felt a sense of relief for some reason. I was so tired. I felt very sad to cause my mom and dad so much worry.’s name mentioned. I looked at my calves I notice the open cut was still oozing with blood. I felt like I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 490 . I could hear the Officer speaking to someone. I felt so much more at peace. and he really didn’t want to do it. The guard saluted him as he left the tent. Wait to see where my destiny is going to take me from here. and had no will or energy left to run or walk anymore. as if someone was telling me “It’s going to be OK”.

and was wearing the same kind of hat as the first Officer. Neither of the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 491 . Contrary to what Shahrbanoo always told me. or who he was. I woke up suddenly when I heard footsteps coming close to the tent. I guess I had dozed off again from the exhaustion.Spared had let my parents down. This time he brought one other Officer in to the tent with him. and the rest of the guards stayed at the opening. the angel of death. He was very tall and thin. numerous times that day. and rested my forehead on my knees. I went back on the floor and hugged my knees again. I was able to cheat Gebrail. I’m not sure why the other Officer was in the tent.

being that you had a class today as well. and never smiled. He had a very serious expression on his face. I didn’t know if I should stand up or sit or what? The scruffy faced Officers came over. In any other circumstance. we have made a decision among ourselves. He had several colorful medals on his coat. and sit on the chair. “Well. and have decided that perhaps you have indeed been caught in the protesters path. as it is dictated by the martial law. They didn’t take their coats off this time. and that seemed strange to me. we would have had to shoot you by now.Spared Officers ever told me their names. and also direct Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 492 . and lend me a hand to get up off the floor. They pulled 2 chairs and sat on them.

I was so very excited to hear the words “going home”. and not in the streets. A respectable young girl like yourself. “It is our decision that it would be best to take you home.” I gasped when he mentioned the Evin prison.Spared orders from Shah. Oh god if you are still out there. If your life was spared for some reason. as a political prisoner and a traitor. and if you still care. then you would be transferred to Evin. let them kill me instead of send me to Evin. I didn’t know what to do with all that excitement.” continued the scruffy Officer. I wanted to bend over and kiss Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 493 . needs to be home with her family which is where you belong. especially a daughter of a general.

and I will take you home myself ” said the scruffy Officer. I just started to cry again. But he came right back and held my chin in his hand and said.” He gave me a genuine smile and left. the terror is over. but didn’t actually do it. “Let me bring the car around. “No more crying OK.Spared his feet in gratitude. and they both left the tent. My guess would be that since the scruffy faced Officer had to make a decision against all rules and regulations and as important as sparing a prisoner’s life. you’ll be home safe and sound in just a few minutes. he had to have a good Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 494 . The other Officer did not say one word and I wondered why he had to come in at all.

scream. He wanted the other Officer to be the witness that I was a General’s daughter. what a difference in how I was treated. shout. dodge bullets. hide. and push dead bodies off of me anymore.Spared reason.” I wanted to jump up and down. From certain death. I think I did jump a few times. Wow. I was still puzzled why did all this happen and why was I spared and not the others. I am going home. and celebrate that I am finally going home. so later on he won’t get in trouble. I don’t have to crawl. to “I’ll take you home myself where you will be safe? I am going home. escape. It was such a fantastic feeling I cannot find the words that describe that kind of relief and happiness. but I didn’t care anymore. As Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 495 .

I remembered he was the father of the family who brought Gita. about one year ago. He was Gita’s father. mustache. I finally got it. a military land rover pulled over. His name was Officer Nejat. and the cold air struck me like a ton of bricks. Before I knew it.Spared they walked out of the tent. One of the guards walked me out of the tent I was in. and his scruffy face. Our eyes met momentary just to say thank you. When I served the father some tea. the little 10 year old patient to my father’s office for treatment of her uneven legs and limping. I suddenly realized where I had met the scruffy Officer before. The frigid wind blew and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 496 . I remembered his bushy eye brows.

It didn’t seem fair that so many had to die because they didn’t have the privilege of having a father with a high military status. “Privileged people Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 497 . I felt undeserving.Spared wrapped itself around me. Everyone stared at me as I walked away and sat in the back seat of the land rover. penetrating every cell of my body. I felt like a traitor in a way. I gave him a look of gratitude and a smile. Officer Nejat was waiting for me outside and took his coat off and placed it around me. because I heard with my own ears when 3 people lost their lives by execution that night for violating martial law and here I was getting out of certain death because of my dad. and gave me chills. Shahrbanoo had an expression that said.

I was so ashamed. He turned on the heat for me. Officer Nejat sat in the driver’s seat driving me home as he promised.Spared have a different color blood. There were barely any lights on. It was still very dark out. As we drove away I saw the empty streets go by before my eyes. I noticed the clock showing 3:13 in the morning. He drove away towards north without any regards to the traffic lights. in any homes or buildings. so no one can see my face. All the traffic lights were red and blinking. I tried to scoot down.” I thought it would have been for the best if I had been killed too. I was struck with a bad case of survivor’s remorse. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 498 . I couldn’t think of one reason why I was spared.

except for the guards at the road blocks. Soldiers were still warming up their hands on the fire in the barrels. I like to tell you.Spared There wasn’t a soul in the streets anywhere. but right after seeing who he was they would salute him and allow him to continue passing thru. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 499 . It was hard to believe that only hours ago these guards were my enemy and now they are smiling as we pass by? It was suddenly so easy to move thru the street and yet it seemed like an impossible. and life threatening task for me to accomplish by myself. that I do know your father on a personal level. my name is Officer Nejat. We had to stop at every road block still. “I never introduced myself.

Spared What he did for my family was priceless and I feel like I owe him my life. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 500 . God was with you young lady. but it was my job to treat you just like any other violator of the martial law. If it wasn’t for a fact that your face looked so very familiar and the fact that you are so young. You also participated in Jaleh square protesting. There was that nagging doubt that didn’t let me move forward with giving the final word to shoot. We almost killed you. you would have faced certain death. Please forgive me. being practically a child. Sometimes doubt is a good thing.

and he looked at me in the mirror. I had lost my perspective. I was still very bitter about what had happened and felt abandoned by god somehow. I don’t think god was with me. We were getting close to my house and I was so very excited to give my mom the good news that I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 501 . right?” I nodded no. What kind of god would allow such terror to happen to a girl who has done nothing bad to anyone? I know there is no way you would go protesting behind your dad’s back. I felt like if he loved me he would have never let me experience Black Friday.Spared Oh no.

blood splashing at me. the helicopters. I’m not going to come in this late in the middle of the night. My thought process was interrupted when Officer Nejat continued: “I’m going to drop you off in the corner from your house and I will wait to make sure you go in safely. the severed are m with the wedding ring on it the stack of bodies in front of me. Suddenly the weight of everything that had happened started sinking in. I wanted to see her face light up and my dad to be relieved. the firing squad . death of Leyla. I kept having flash backs of the bloody bodies.Spared finally made it home. it is not Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 502 . stinging of the lashes I received and the heart dropping moment I was grabbed by the guard.

Spared necessary. but I do have a few that I can recall.” He knew what I was trying to say. I looked at him to say thank you for sparing my life. and he said. I held his hand in my both hands. but I still didn’t have a voice. “You are welcome.” I got out of the car and made sure I left his jacket on the seat. Just tell him now that I owed him a favor. I looked back and saw his car speed away. I’m sure you will tell your dad all about today and tonight. I walked toward the front door of our building. I do not have all the detailed memories of what exactly happened after I got home. My parents also told me a few things much later. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 503 .

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I noticed the dim light in the living room which was directly behind the front door. When I got behind the door of our house which was part wood and part glass. Our house was on the first floor of a 5 story building. Then I climbed up 4 stairs to get in front of our door. I don’t remember knocking or ringing the bell. I entered our front door of the main building and closed it behind me. but I do remember the door swinging open by my mom who just threw herself at Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 505 .Spared Home again.

Oh my god. my Nastaran is alive.Spared me. thank you. and away from the stair case. as she kissed me all over my face. I am sure he didn’t want the whole neighborhood to know about this. my hands. She was whaling and crying. I knew god would answer my prayers and made this miracle come thru. “I knew it. My father was standing behind her and was crying uncontrollably also. thank you god for giving my daughter back to me” said my mom. but he pushed both of us in to the house. thank you. and out of control. She looked like she had been crying the whole time as her eyes looked extremely swollen and blood shot. my hair and my shoulders Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 506 . I knew it.

but don’t know why I couldn’t show it. However.Spared despite knowing how gross and disgusting I must have looked and smelled. please stop. I do remember I was standing there like a frozen stick. all the way to my feet. He pulled my shirt and skirt up and looked at Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 507 . “Mehri. I don’t remember hugging and kissing back. as he looked at me with horror in his eyes. stop for a minute. there were tears running down my face. He started to check starting with my head. Dr. As we came in. Please let me see if she is hurt” said Mr. not having too many visible emotions. my father forced my mother and I to separate as he was obviously worried about all the blood on me. I was extremely happy and relieved.

I was sad. I wanted to say something. I pulled back a little. Finally he stopped and said “oh thank god Mehri she is OK.” He was talking to my mom as if I wasn’t there. just minor injuries. but had numerous confused emotions going on at the same time. “Honey what happened to you? Where were you till now?” But I just stood there not saying anything. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 508 . He pulled back my hair that was drenched in dried up blood and stuck to my ear. My mother asked me.Spared my legs frantically. When he touched my left ear. and perhaps it was because he understood that I was in a shock. but I need to check her some more. It felt like a stinging sensation in my ear lobe.

My whole body was stinging as if a thousand bees were stinging me at the same time. “Leave her alone Mehri. Nothing came out of my mouth. and protected by my parents. Their voices were getting muffled in my ears. What is important is to make sure she is OK physically right now” said Mr. He sat me down in his favorite chair in the living room. I could not understand why I still felt terrified knowing I am standing in my house. My mom Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 509 .Spared glad. It felt so good to finally sit in a soft chair. scared. and terrified at the same time. don’t interrogate her. without any care that my bloodied and muddy clothes would stain it. she is obviously in shock. Dr. happy.

He also opened my mouth. which is the equivalent of 104 Fahrenheit. He looked at my feet. and had my mom hold it for me. As she held the thermometer. My mother said 40 Celsius degrees. continued with placing a blood pressure cuff on me quickly and used his stethoscope to listen to my heart and lungs.Spared kept wringing her hands as she waited patiently until my dad was done checking me. He stuck a thermometer in my mouth. shined a light in Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 510 . Mr. and recited a prayer silently. and made a face. she caressed my hair. Dr. He took the thermometer out of my mouth and handed it to my mom and asked her to read it. and stared in to my eyes ever so lovingly with such worry in her eyes.

“Please tell me the truth? Is she? Is she OK?” My father turned to her and said. road burn on the side of her hip and back. and looked in my ears.. and you know god must have been with her and spared her. She has been thru hell it seems. she is OK physically from what I can tell. as you can see.Spared both my eyes. The only thing wrong with her is. and a nick on her left ear. She is one lucky girl. but I’m sure she is not in any danger. “Thank goodness. ripped skin on her calf which is bleeding. I was cooperative and responded to commands. She is also badly dehydrated Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 511 . she is running a fever. her feet are badly cut and blistered. My mom kept saying to my dad. I can’t find the source of her fever.

We don’t want secondary infection now on top of whatever is causing her fever. gulped down the whole glass of water and finished it all.” My mother ran to the kitchen and came back with a big glass of water and she put it up to my lips. I was so thirsty that I grabbed the glass with both hands. but unfortunately as fast as it went down. Give her a cool bath to bring her fever down. don’t worry.Spared and she needs fluids. and give her a bath please. See if you can get her to drink something. I threw it all up.” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 512 . Why don’t you give her a bath because I have to dress her cuts and disinfect her feet. Mr. brought a big towel and said to my mom. she just drank it too fast. “It’s OK. Dr.

He palpated my abdomen to see if I have any pain. I felt the surge of love thru his hands absorbed in to my hands. Your mom and I care about you so very deeply”. The most important thing is you are here with us. my dad held my hand and caressed it. but I didn’t. Don’t you worry about anything at all. We are so lucky to have a daughter like you and so grateful you are home with us safe. “Whatever happened to you tonight. I thought to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 513 . In the mean time. He sat by my feet and told me. safe and sound. engulfing my body and in to my heart.Spared My mother ran to the bathroom to start the bath for me. I could see he was in deep thought. it will be OK.

he is an absolute angel and felt such deep love for him.Spared myself. She just asked me to go and sit down in the bath tub with all my clothes. stood me up and walked me in to the shower. She tried taking my shirt off. Our shower had a hand held shower head as well as a regular shower head. She was able to take my bloody clothes off and threw Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 514 . I looked at him and smiled. She didn’t want to rip it off of my skin in fear of causing more injury. She used the hand held shower head to wet me all over as I sat in there not moving at all to help. I rested my head on my knees and tried to relax. and he smiled back. but parts of it were stuck to my skin. By then my mom came to the living room again and.

and drain it down to the sewer like unwanted waste. Oh what a metaphor for loss of human life to squander away. I wonder sometime. It was very obvious that she was trying to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 515 . how many people would that identify? But there is no test to identify the wasted human hopes and dreams. and must have kissed me a hundred times. I saw the blood of thousands of people run off of my body in circles and swirl down the drain. but they did. My mom washed me all over.Spared them in a bucket. Her face was sweating as she washed me so very gently. Those lives did not deserve to be drained down like dirt this way. if someone did a DNA analysis on that blood mixture.

See if she can drink some more water now. and I drank half of it. Ahhh that felt so very good and comfortable. “It is 38 now. She dried me up with a very large thirsty towel. still too high of a fever. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 516 . but she could not hide the tears of joy that was running down her face. My dad put the thermometer back in my mouth again and held it. and put on my flannel pajamas. He turned to my mom and said. She brushed my hair and brought me back to the living room. This time it stayed down.” My mom placed another glass of water to my lips.Spared hide her sadness for what happened to me with her smiling face.

the rain of bullets. and I started to scream hysterically. running for cover in the streets. My dad jumped up and grabbed me and tried to drag me back in to the room which was the farthest away from the door. body parts flying. Suddenly that question triggered hundreds of flashbacks of all the horror I had faced that day. the helicopters. count down to my executions and the scream of the man begging for his life right before he was executed. blood and guts splashing. I stood up and ran towards the door. all ran before my eyes. The chanting of the enormous crowd.Spared “Honey do you think you can tell us where you were and what happened to you?” my mom said. Both my mom and dad Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 517 .

My heart beat slowed down. and I fell into a very deep asleep. I felt very perplexed. I was in my own home. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 518 . A much needed long sleep.Spared tried to hold me down. the past. gave me a sharp but awful headache. my body got limp. Very quickly I realized that I wasn’t being captured. hallucinating I was being captured again. Strangely. The confusion of what was happening and the discrepancy of the present vs. I was kicking and screaming. I felt a sharp and stinging sensation in my upper thigh. but very relaxed at the same time. and I saw my father giving me an injection of some kind. I didn’t even recognize that I was at home already.

Spared I didn’t know it then, but my father injected me with the medication called Lorazepam, which is a strong tranquilizer. He had it prepared when I took my bath, as he expected the flashbacks would be common. It wasn’t that long ago when my sister had a breakdown when she got caught in her university’s riots. Her experience was not at all in the same degree as mine, but she did suffer some emotional trauma. My dad had to give her tranquilizers as well when she had her flashbacks. So when my mother took me to give me a bath, he prepared a shot for me just in case. My parent’s recollection was that I slept and slept for long periods of time and my father continued to monitor my
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Spared vital signs. I was awakened to be fed and taken to the bathroom, but before long I would have flash backs again and had to be injected again. This cycle continued for about 3 to 4 days. I don’t remember having any dreams during this time. “On the fourth day I woke up with a pleasant breeze passing thru the room. I opened my eyes thinking the breeze was coming thru my open window. I could hear the heavenly sound of “Fur Elise” melody playing in the distance. Surprised, I didn’t recognize where I was, but there seemed to be bright light, and fog passing thru. I looked in all directions, and didn’t see anyone, but it felt right
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Spared to go towards it. I felt a loving hand caressing my hair which was dancing in the sweet breeze filled with aroma of Jasmine blossoms. I felt secure, and at peace, and there was no worry, sadness or sorrow. A feeling I had not felt for a very long time. It was as if I was weightless. It was a sweet surrender…up and down, side to side; I drifted on the heaving foamy waves of a gentle sea, allowing it to carry me to whichever direction it flows just like a white dove feather. The presence of god was very strong, and felt everywhere, and it felt like the breeze was taking me closer to him. A quiet whisper…a gentle voice…a murmur…a lullaby…mixed in the breeze and I heard the words…you will live to tell…
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Spared you will live to prosper…when the time comes, do not hold back…do not hold back….they are counting on you. I felt so blessed, loved and forgiven.”

I woke up startled and disoriented, and found myself in my own bed. I realized that I have been sleeping for a while, and ah what a peaceful dream I was having. I knew for certain that it was not a dream. God had indeed spoken to me and forgiven me for doubting him as he whispered those comforting words in my ears. I sat back on my bed and looked at the flowered wallpaper everywhere. I had picked
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Spared the floral wallpaper and my curtains myself not too long before that day. It was safe, and familiar. I could hear the Fur Elise, my dad’s favorite classical music, being played on the piano from the formal living room. I was still wearing the flannel pajamas. I stood up, and felt stinging and swelling in the soles of my feet. My feet were wrapped in dressing like cloth and I also had dressing over my left calf. I ignored it and limped towards the door of my room which was cracked open, and the dim living room light was crawling into my room. I had no memory of anything bad or traumatic at all. As a matter of fact I don’t remember recalling Black Friday at all. At least not at that time anyway. My mind was
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Spared completely renewed, and blank. I opened my room door and noticed there was no one there. I could hear my mom frying something in the kitchen. I smelled aromas of herb stew and rice coming from the kitchen, and it made me so very hungry. That was my most favorite food. I looked at the clock, and realized it was 8 o’clock. Then I looked at my bedroom window, and it looked dark outside, and I realized it had to be eight pm. Very confused, I followed the Fur Elise music to our formal living room and found Mr. Dr. playing the piano. That was so soothing to my soul. I stood there and watched him play the piano for a minute or so. He suddenly stopped and looked back and saw me standing there.
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Spared He looked startled by my presence, and got up and came towards me, touching my forehead, and asked me, “Did you sleep good sweet heart?” “I did. Do you know why I just wake up this late? Is it eight pm?” I said with a lot of confusion. “Oh well, yes it is. You were sick, running a fever, and you were sleeping to get well. There is nothing strange about that. Are you hungry?” said Mr. Dr. Oh that was music to my ears. “I’m starving dad”

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Spared “Why don’t you go and have a seat in the living room and I’ll have your mom bring you something to eat, how does that sound?” “That sounds great thank you” He made a dash and took the flight of 3 stairs in to the kitchen. That was another odd event. My father, like most of Iranian men, had never set foot to the kitchen before. I was puzzled by his behavior. I sat down in our living room looking at everything and feeling very blank and strange. It was as if I had forgotten something, or like I can’t remember what has recently happened. I figured it is probably because
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Spared I was asleep for a long time. I heard my mom’s footsteps rushing over to the living room and as she got there she looked at me with such surprise and with lots of enthusiasm. She acted as if she hadn’t seen me for a while. She kissed me on my face and forehead followed by tight hugs. “Oh thank god, your fever is broken, how do you feel sweetheart? Hungry at all?” said my mother. “Oh yes I am mom, I can eat a cow” I said as I was giggling. My mom’s face lit up when she saw me smile and back to myself again. I remember a few nights after Black Friday;
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Spared I woke up in middle of the night drenched in sweat squatting and hiding behind my bed. I was having a nightmare, or perhaps it was a flash back. I remembered what had happened on Black Friday, but no gory details. I was terrified, but quickly realized that it was just a nightmare and I am home and safe. I tried to analyze it in my head what happened, and why I was spared, but I wasn’t really able to. The more I thought about it, the worse it got. I was trying to come up with all the reasons I didn’t die, but the more I did that the guiltier I felt. I closed my eyes and tried hard to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. I finally turned on my study light, and grabbed my pink notebook in which I had doodled a lot,
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Spared written lots of poetry, and drew lots of pictures. I started a letter to god. I was so very confused and guilty about why I was spared. I felt undeserving, dirty, worthless, and downright harsh on myself for still being alive, and then after that I would feel guilty for feeling so ungrateful. It felt good to put my thoughts into words. Here is the actual letter in Farsi and the translation in English as well.

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Spared

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Spared Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 531 .

Why did I remain alive in Zhaleh square? Was my blood any more red than other people? Why did everybody have to die except for me? I know that you give life and you take life.Spared A letter to God I have a lot of questions my God. but why? Why didn’t I die? I feel like as long as I live I have to make up for it. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 532 .

I wish I was killed instead of the small children who lost their lives. How do I ever forget this day? Thank you for letting me live. did you have a different plan for me? Did you let me live for my Mom? What about the rest of the people? How do I forgive myself knowing all these innocent people are killed? I wish I was dead too. but mostly for my Mom. I wish I was killed.Spared Tell me God. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 533 .

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 534 . I can still hear the bullets. I still hear the scream and cry of people. I can still smell the blood. I still feel the weight of the bodies that were stacked on top of me.Spared How do I get rid of this nightmare that I have every night of this event? I still feel the warmth of spilled blood on my face.

I can taste the blood in my mouth.Spared I am still alive. Still alive. I am still not killed. I am still alive. Am I still Nastaran or not? I still have headaches. God please answer me because I still have a lot of questions. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 535 . My ear still hurts. Still alive. And I shouldn’t be.

and locked it away for a long time to come. in fear of placing Mr. My parents made sure they never started any conversations about it as well. I believe it was a survival mechanism. as my brain tried to protect me. and knew I wasn’t ready to deal with the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 536 . It was extremely risky and unsafe to tell anyone I was mixed up with the protestors. No one was told about what happened to me on that day. but somehow it was as if I tucked the details of Black Friday deep in my subconscious. in jeopardy. Even though I knew what happened. Dr.Spared After writing this letter to god. since he belonged to shah’s army. I never talked about Black Friday incident again with my parents or friends until almost 30 years later.

because she was afraid that I would Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 537 . but didn’t have any details. She never pushed me to give her any information. and my good friend Mili Naugle MFT. I asked her once or twice about what happened when I got home. My memory eventually came back in July 2008. the details. Dr. and had no memory to recall. I couldn’t tell her even if I tried. but never told her about what actually happened to me. I never gave my mom or Mr. as I had blocked all the details completely. in process of writing this book with the help of world’s most wonderful counselor. For the next 30 years or so I knew that Black Friday took place. or the extent of my involvement about how graphic it was.Spared horrifying details just yet.

and out of harm’s way. Life was back to normal around my house. She missed Neda so very terribly. My mom was so relieved that she was out of the country. because I was the one who got to live. Neda was in New York. I carried great shame in being a victim. My mom always cried so hard after getting off the phone with Neda. staying with one of our relatives. and all the other’s had to die. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 538 .Spared have a terrible flash backs. I carried the survivor’s remorse for about 30 years. and applying to different universities across the USA to major in architecture.

Numbers of victims on Black Friday were never reported accurately and it greatly varied based on the sources. To them it was proof that shah is a heartless murderer he is capable of killing thousands of his own people. The black Friday massacre made the people more resentful and heightened the level of hatred towards shah. People also claimed that the martial law was declared late in the evening on September 7. According to the pro Islamic revolution death Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 539 . According to the Shah’s government. 1978. the death toll was only 53 which included one female only.Spared Zhaleh square massacre pushed the nature of protesting into a new gear. and most people didn’t even know about it.

building burning. A clip of this video shows many bodies lying next to each other with numbers 2963. and that was to get shah out of the country. 2964 …. the country was changing for the worse. and so on. By the end of September 1978.. I though. It is interesting to see pictures of dead bodies on the internet that had numbers on them as that was the only way to keep the toll. cars burning. proving that it was way beyond 53! People only had one mission.000. There were daily protests.Spared toll was over 10. bombing. was certain that the actual number was around 6000 to 8000 approximately. and people killing one another for their strong political Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 540 . shooting.

The sounds of bullets and shooting could be heard very frequently in all streets. I was forbidden to go anywhere or talk to anyone unless my mother was with me. Getting out of the house was always a risk and people did not go anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary. The list of dead people in the newspaper obituary kept getting longer and longer. arrested. Graffiti painted every wall in Tehran flavored with hatred towards Shah. or demanding Ayatollah Khomeini’s return. and most people wore black in the streets. even in residential areas. Not a day would go by without hearing or reading about explosions and shootings.Spared beliefs. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 541 . It was as if everyone knew someone who was killed.

and risk crippling the country further. teachers. Our Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 542 .Spared By this time Shah had already tried all the tactics available to him. engineer. leaving their work. Shah was too scared to go ahead with that plan. professors. all went on nationwide strikes. merchants. and kill hundreds of thousands ofpeople at once in an effort to scare people enough to stop protesting. placing the already broken economy. all the way to judges in superior courts. The country was getting more and more unstable with no sign of improving. According to some sources it was believed that shah was advised by the United States as well as his own royal parliament to drop a bomb in Qom. from the labor. People from all walks of life.

To scare people. Anyone who could afford a ticket and had a little bit of money saved up.Spared prime minister resigned and was replaced again and again by other people who couldn’t hold the job. People themselves were leaving the country in large numbers. People thought that it was a way of intimidating them. Several important military figures and government heads left the country. and military trucks with armed guards in every corner. The shah’s regime was getting weaker and weaker. or fearing for their safety for their families. and paid very little attention to Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 543 . there were tanks roaring in the streets. They were too afraid of their safety. fled the country fearing imprisonment if the regime changes.

There were rumors that shah might be fleeing the country himself. stated that “he had heard the people’s cries”. There were also rumors that Shah himself was in the helicopters flying over Zhaleh square on Black Friday. After Black Friday took place. and looked forward to having Ayatollah Khomeini come back Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 544 . It wasn’t just pro Ayatollah Khomeini followers. there were other followers such as pro communist. running the show. People wanted him gone. very soon. but it was too late.Spared them. Shah appeared on TV apologizing for the way things were handled. The foundation of trust was badly damaged. and pro mujahedin protesting also.

Spared to Iran to start mending the damage. in hope and promise of peace and prosperity. Each time he tried. We were worried about my dad’s unfortunate situation as a general for Shah’s army. There were strong rumors that once the government changes. My mom didn’t allow me to watch too much TV in fear that it would trigger flashbacks again. all the present high ranked officers in Shah’s regime will be executed. He had tried to retire for a long time. they begged him not to. and how that was going to play out if Shah indeed left the country. He was obviously very nervous himself but tried not to show it. and was replaced by Ayatollah or anyone else. and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 545 .

and a possible repeat heart attack. His health was declining. and had angina attacks often. Mansoor.’s younger brothers who was an ambassador to Korea for Shah’s Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 546 . and just wanted to retire in peace. We felt helpless seeing him walking around pale faced. He would decline higher status. and still insisted he can take care of himself. After all he was a physician. He kept promising if it got worse he will go to Emergency room. His requests kept getting denied. and holding on to his chest in pain. and we all worried about his health. Dr. He had a history of a mild heart attack. one of Mr. He was chewing on Nitrogen glycerin pills to quiet his heart very often.Spared bribed with a promotion to a higher status.

He had a deep faith that if his time was up he Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 547 . was a surgeon and a trauma specialist working in Washington for many years.. My father had never ordered anyone’s death or execution.” His other younger brother. but again my father declined. He begged my dad to leave as well. had never accepted any bribe from any of the opposition’s group or anyone else. and my conscious is clean and clear. “I have done no wrong to anyone.S. He was stressed but not worried. Jahangir. but my dad kept answering him by saying.Spared government resigned his position and was leaving the country to the United States. and I will not exit the country like a coward. and offered my father shelter in the U.

He also believed strongly that everything happens for a reason. then he was safe to stay in Iran. It was as if I had completely forgotten about what had happened to me on Black Friday. I remember clenching on my mom’s arms until she would tell me to let go because I was cutting off the circulation in her arm.Spared would get killed. I remember being confused about why I would get so nervous going outside my house but I blamed it on the obvious changes and country’s instability. I spent long hours Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 548 . and just walking outdoors would make me hyperventilate. but if it wasn’t his time. When we absolutely had to go somewhere. I had no desire to go anywhere.

Spared talking to my high school friends from our house phone. and they never mentioned the Black Friday to me either. Googoosh. while we all waited to see if schools reopened again. and listening to my music tapes. they naturally never brought up her subject either. They were just as bored as I was. or if they chose not to. I don’t remember ever thinking about Leyla as if she was an erased memory that only lived in the deep corners of my subconscious. I am not sure if they were instructed by my mother not to mention Black Friday. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 549 . Since my other friends didn’t really know Leyla. Elvis. I entertained myself painting or drawing most days. Santa Esmeralda. Among my favorites were ABBA. Bee Gees.

Spared and Ebi. My goal had always been to be a nurse. What was I going to do? Most of my friends from high school either had planned to get married. or going abroad to continue their education. With the closure of all schools. and remind me that he Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 550 . to see if I have made up my mind. I already had the marriage proposal to marry Farhad. and had planned on going to nursing school in the city of Sari by the Caspian sea. there was no way I could take the nationwide entry exam called Konkoor. or “no” to his proposal. and I had to make a decision to either say “yes”. that dream seemed to be slipping away from me. If I didn’t finish high school. He would call frequently from Netherlands.

and give him an answer soon. I had to learn Dutch of course first before I started school. he tried to paint a picture of a comfortable. upon hanging up.Spared missed me. However. and I must be honest with Farhad. both financially and otherwise. My mother would remind me at times. The picture he painted was so very perfect. wonderful life. and at times I would feel stupid not to take that chance. When speaking to him on the phone. where he would take care of everything I needed as a husband. I would be filled with doubt. My friends told me I was indeed stupid for not jumping at that Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 551 . that I have a decision to make. so I could concentrate on getting my high school diploma followed by going to college.

My friends kept telling me there was no future in Iran. I had watched some of my high school friends who had gotten married during these difficult times. or achieving their carrier goals. and how they wished they had the opportunity to get out of the country even if it meant getting married to someone.Spared chance. and be on my way to Netherlands already. I certainly didn’t want to join their Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 552 . and the dreams of getting higher education. They got pregnant. They had all planned on not allowing the married life effect or interfere with their plans regarding continuing with their career goals. would go down the drain. but their plans never materialized. and had one kid after another. and should say “yes” to his proposal.

between a man and a woman will result in pregnancy. my mom had warned me many times that even kissing a man would result in pregnancy.Spared group of hopeless dreamers. As a naïve 17 year old girl. There Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 553 . I didn’t know pregnancy can be prevented. I really wanted to become a nurse and establish my career first. and assumed that getting pregnant is a definite consequence of getting married. not yet anyway. As a young girl. so it only made sense to me that marrying someone and having intimate relationship with a man would do the same. and didn’t want a crying baby on my hip to care for. In my mind any contact more advanced than a hand shake.

Getting married was just not something I felt ready to do. was from discussing what our parents have told us. When my mom put her foot down about making a decision in regards to Farhad’s marriage proposal late in September 1978. I called Farhad and told him that I was not Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 554 . and it was mostly exaggerated lies. I was infatuated but not in love. and a desperate attempt to prevent us from losing our virginity. as the subject of sex was taboo. With that decision made. I decided that marrying him was not what I wanted to do.Spared was no sex education available for kids my age in schools. and didn’t feel any urgency in getting married to anyone just yet. Whatever information we as young girls had obtained.

He had forgotten that things like living together are not practiced in Iran and they are very much forbidden. Farhad was very upset and heartbroken. He asked me to come over to Netherlands anyway. Even though Farhad was Iranian. He promised he will be a gentleman. he had lived in Netherlands since he was in early 20’s. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 555 . and we would live in his house but in different rooms. and was born and raised in Iran. and he would be a good husband if I only let him prove it to me. He told me that he loved me very deeply. and see for myself how life will be before we got married.Spared going to marry him or come to Netherlands. until I made a decision. and tried to change my mind.

Spared That did not make any sense to me. Cohabitation before marriage was strictly forbidden. he would solidify it by marriage. my family would never allow me to live with a man under any circumstances. They worried that he would pressure me in to having premarital sex. or engage in sexual acts before marriage. and disrespectful. as it would be dishonorable and Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 556 . A true gentleman would never suggest to live together. Iranian customs dictated that if a man truly loves a woman. the rule would still be the same. and cause great shame to both families. and besides. and a young unmarried girl will not live in the same house with a man. Even though Farhad was my stepfather’s brother and family.

Besides. then that woman loses her chance of getting married to a man. they would disappear. who promised them love and marriage. and convinced the girl that since they are going to be married anyway. However. once the act of sex is done. her virginity. At times these men would claim they don’t want to marry the girl they had sex with. because Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 557 . once the virginity is gone by premarital sex. and the girl loses her most valuable possession. I remember hearing stories of girls who fell in love with men. Any man would expect his bride to be virgin. it’s OK to have sex. and without it the foundation of marriage is missing.Spared disrespectful for the woman and her family.

she would be easily manipulated in to sex with other men as well. These drastic measures were fueled and heated more especially if there was also a pregnancy involved. in which these woman failed miserably. promiscuous. Some families would take matters in their own hand and find the man who did it. Some families would be OK with just knowing the daughter is married off and the family Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 558 . and force him to pick either a shotgun wedding. They justified to themselves that the fact they tricked these women in to having sex was a test. and unfit to be married. The fault would always fall on the woman’s lap for being a whore. or be shot.Spared if she was so easy to give up her virginity with him.

where as some families would force a divorce soon after the shotgun wedding.Spared is not shamed. but I had made up my mind not to be his wife. My mother certainly told me that. so they are not stuck with the man who has committed such despicable acts. and living Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 559 . It was pretty obvious that I was not going to live in Farhad’s house unless I was married to him. and we go by those traditional rules. no man will respect a woman who would agree to give up her virginity. even to the man she loves or whether there are certain marriage plans in place. My mother spoke to Farhad herself explaining that we live in Iran. I was convinced that I will remain a virgin until the day I got married and that was that.

She did tell him though that the decision of getting married is entirely Nastaran’s. Finally I had to have a talk with my mom about Farhad.Spared together is not an option he could exercise. I asked her: “How do I know if I love him or not? Does anyone ever know? Did you know when you married Mr. even though it seemed very awkward to discuss that situation.?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 560 . to clear up any bad intentions. Farhad told my mom that he would be perfectly happy to marry me first before I even get there. and I appreciated that so very much. With that cleared up it was entirely up to me to decide whether to marry him or not. Dr.

proposed to me. Let me tell you my story. The day Mr. I started jumping up and down with happiness. but Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 561 . My friends told me that I had lost my mind and I was stupid. I knew I need to do the right thing and let Farhad go. Dr.Spared “It sounds really complicated but it is not really. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we loved and belonged together. Now you tell me. so he can be free as well and perhaps pursue a different relationship. is this how you feel for Farhad?” Suddenly all the doubt in my mind evaporated and it became crystal clear to me what I needed to do. I have never regretted that decision. and first thing I did was to call your grandmother to give her the good news.

I knew if I stayed in Iran. and wanted to speak to me about leaving the country to obtain higher education. That was bitter sweet news to me. Decline of the marriage proposal. it was going to be a long while before I was able to go back to school. propelled me to the next decision I had to make. my education. On the other hand. On one hand I had to say goodbye to my dreams of going to the nursing school in Sari.Spared somehow I knew that I had made the right decision to follow my dreams of better education. even if it meant going abroad. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 562 . My mom and dad sat me down. I was happy to know I can pick up where I left off and get my high school diploma and then go to college.

and the phones rang off the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 563 . the day finally came for my mom and I to go to our appointment in the agency. to discuss where I was going to go. There were lines everywhere. Filled with fear and excitement. At that time in Tehran there were agencies which would coordinate finding a boarding school for students looking to leave Iran in search of higher education.Spared With that in mind. and waiting in a waiting room. I could see that it was such a busy place filled with anxious parents and teenagers my age filling out applications. and burning with the desire of going to nursing school. As we entered the agency. I agreed to move forward to finding a school abroad. and how I was going to get there.

Every once in a while. and push one another in hopes of making it to the finish line first. It reminded me of the lines we used to stand in to get milk. and my mother and I had no place to sit. fearing there would be no more rice or cooking oil left to buy. The waiting room was filled with people. someone’s name would be called and an agent would take you in. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 564 . as if people were afraid that the world was going to run out of boarding schools. Everyone would be trying to cut in line. People kept going to the reception complaining that they have been waiting too long. when there was a shortage of them during the revolution. A sense of urgency could be felt all around the room. rice and cooking oil.Spared hook.

Noori. Our appointment time was also previously made but it seemed like it didn’t matter. “Come this way with me please. Luckily we had filled out our applications ahead of time.” We sat down in the room facing the agent who had a huge stack of papers in front of him. and Nastaran Akhavan. and we had to wait long amounts of time anyway.” My mom and I stood up. After 2 hours. “Mrs. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 565 . whether we had an appointment or not. finally our name was called.Spared and when is their name going to be called? I had no idea so many people were getting out of the country just to go to school. and just had to turn it in.

how does this work. “Yes we are hoping to send Nastaran to another country to complete her education.Spared “My name is Hamed. or you tell us where you have availabilities?” Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 566 . do we pick a country. is that right?” My mother answered back. So you would like to find a school abroad for your daughter. We have not gone thru an agency before. and I’ll be your agent.

my mom said “We have never been to America.Spared “Very good questions. Life is definitely not the same over in America as it is here or even in Europe. I have been there myself in two different states. they are a lot less family oriented as we are in Iran. How do you feel about that?” Before I could speak. what is it like over there?” “Well let me be honest with you. and as far as eyes can see there are numerous freeways connecting Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 567 . Right now we still have availabilities in US in several different states. and from what I can gather. People drive a lot to get to work and back.

” I felt very discouraged hearing all this. and I guess it was obvious in my face that I was not very amused by this. where as each children could live in another state. “On the other hand Europe is different. Also traveling to America takes about 30 hours of flight time. even if it is just to go to the store. They get together in major holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. People spent long periods of time driving their very large cars here and there. Families live far apart. but that is about it. You have to have a car to get by in America.Spared different towns and even states together. The agent continued. Public Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 568 . Parent may live in one state. There is still that small town feel to it.

Families are not separated by massive states and freeways. There is only 4-5 hours of flight between Tehran and London. your transitioning to study in another language would be much easier as well. You don’t necessarily have to have a car. What do you think young lady?” said the agent as he turned to me. Everything about it made sense. We still have a few spots open in England.Spared transportation is still abundant and small shops and supermarkets can be found in every corner. I felt like I hit the jack pot. If you have already studied English in school as most of our students have. and I felt as if I would be studying in a different Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 569 . which is my first recommendation.

I felt like I am finally able to control my own future education. “I like the idea of England.Spared country. which was built in 1912. England. What cities do you have availability in? And is this a boarding school or just a school?” I said with curiosity in my voice. English was also a strong subject in school for me. which is 19 miles north of London. “The school I recommend is located in Watford. so I knew that would be very helpful as well. The building is actually a beautiful old castle. but yet so close to home. It is a boarding school and the school is on the same grounds. It Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 570 .

and was thrown off. but years later was purchased by an American Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 571 . The decline in number of boy’s attending the school led to its closure. and was not able to get himself out of it. His wife left him unable to deal with the death of their daughter. The Lord went in to deep depression.Spared belonged to an English Lord for a few years that lived there with his wife and daughter. After that the castle was remodeled to be a Masonic school for boys. but he stayed in that giant castle by himself and his servants for a few years before committing suicide. The legend says that his daughter was killed when she was horseback riding. The castle was used in a few movies due to its beauty and location.

The castle was remodeled and put in use as a high school/college. the ability to live in Europe and be closer to home. or USIU.Spared chain University called United States International University. with the other branches located in Kenya. In other words. Another Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 572 . but follow the American standards. you have the best of both worlds. The school is an American system school not English. USIU has four campuses around the world. If it was run by the England standards. Mexico City. you would have to have 13 years of high school education to be able to get a high school diploma. and San Diego. The fact that the school is run by the American standards allows you to enter college one year sooner. which is a blessing.

So what do you think?” My mom and I glanced at each other with approval and excitement in our eyes. because of large number of other Iranians keeping you company. it would be easier because they have a campus in San Diego. and my mom said. and you will never feel alone.” He helped us to complete the paperwork and told us the only other thing left is to get my visa thru the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 573 .Spared benefit is if you ever change your mind and want to go to America. and you will get a visa and can transfer with minimal difficulty. and it is breathtakingly beautiful. I have signed up many Iranian students just this week alone. I have been there personally. as if you never left home. “Let’s sign her up for this school.

We decided. we left the agency with huge smiles. My imagination was taking me away to far. that I was going to shop for clothes Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 574 . It seemed like everything was falling into place as planned and my days in Iran were numbered. After the arrangements were done. and we went straight to the passport agency to get my passport. We also went to the British embassy and applied for a student visa.Spared British embassy and to get my passport. as I was so excited about this new life that will unfold before me in less than a month. My mom on the other hand was a lot more practical. and that was a lot easier than I had imagined. far places. So if all goes well I was to leave Iran in less than a month.

but for one reason or another. I gave the news to all of my friends and was planning on a big party to celebrate my departure. as I was sure they had a lot better clothes and fashion than what we had available to us in Iran. My friends indeed would have liked to have the same opportunity to get their education in another country. Every one of my friends was happy that I get to continue my education outside the country. that was never going to be a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 575 . my mom decided to have a combined birthday/farewell party couple of days before my departure. but it was hard not to see so much envy and grief in them at the same time.Spared once I arrived in London. Since my birthday was also around the corner December 5th.

and also she wanted the Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 576 . I know Neda did not agree with that belief. more prestigious status. and always thought my mom just wanted to get rid of her. I knew it was a big sacrifice my parents were making. sending one’s kids out of the country for a higher education. or their parents simply did not want to be parted with them. and I felt like my mom was worried about our safety. and as years went by I appreciated that more and more. Most of them either didn’t have the financial means to be supported in another country. At the same time.Spared possibility for them. gave parents a higher. both financially and emotionally. and to Neda my mother’s motivation was fueled by this fact. I saw things differently.

She had seen her mother. out of desperation. She may have enjoyed the kind of status it gave her.Spared two of us get a good education. Shahrbanoo. for the sole purpose of financial support. To my mom. My mom resented the fact that she didn’t have the opportunity to get an education to be able to support herself and her children and always struggled to make sure we will never have to be in her shoes. getting a higher education meant never having to live with abuse. so we don’t end up like herself needing a man to support us. but I didn’t believe for a second that it was the primary motivator. and herself go thru many years of abuse from men they had to live with. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 577 .

who was Mr. and made promises to never lose touch. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 578 . He worked as a professor at Tehran University. Farshid. My friends were so happy for me and sorry that I am leaving at the same time. Among the guest was a family member. but chose to live in Iran with his family. and friends. I invited family. School of Engineering. cried.’s second cousin.Spared My good bye party was a few days before I left Iran. He had a PhD in Electrical Engineering. laughed. who finished his education in the United States. ate great food. Dr. My mom worked hard to throw this party and cooked enough food to feed the entire neighborhood. He was a very handsome and accomplished man. We danced the night away.

when he came up to me to wish me luck. “So. what do you think you would like to major when you go to college?” “Nursing of course and that is what I would have wanted to do if I didn’t have to leave the country. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 579 . He said. we were sitting down. and sipping on hot tea. “You actually think you are going to get a bachelor’s degree? That is so funny. You? Keep on dreaming little girl.” He started to laugh in a demeaning and sarcastic way.Spared When the party was slowing down.

Spared I’m sorry, but I just don’t see that happening. Do you think you can just go to another country and learn the language, and get a degree? You think it is that easy? Maybe Neda would pull that off, but I just don’t see you doing that.” I was getting very annoyed, humiliated, and angry with him talking to me as if I was retarded. “I don’t think that is very funny to say that to me when I am leaving the country. You are discouraging me. You got your education in America didn’t you? Why was it possible for you, and not for me?” “Well everyone knows I was a straight A student, and a genius to be honest with you, but you? You barely pass a
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Spared grade having to go to summer school. Be realistic, tell your mom not to waste her money. Why don’t’ you find yourself a good husband, and get a degree in raising children. Ha ha ha ha” I was so angry at him, and couldn’t hold my tears back. At the same time he was an older adult, and in Iranian culture you don’t talk back to people who are older than you, especially a family member, but I wasn’t able to hold back, and I told him, “You know what? Just to prove that you are an idiot, I will get 2 degrees instead of one. Just wait and see. How could you say such negative things and kill my enthusiasm, who do you think you are?”
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Spared My mom was serving cake, and she heard our conversation which had attracted everyone’s attention, and rushed towards us to diffuse the situation, but by then several of the family members and friends told him off. Mr. Dr. grabbed his arm, and took him out to talk to him in private. Soon after that conversation with Mr. Dr., he excused himself and left quietly. Even though everyone tried to make me feel better by telling me what an idiot he was and I can do anything I set my mind to, I was still very broken spirited. He put a seed of doubt in my heart, and I found myself scared of what the future would hold for me.
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Spared Do I really have what it takes to get a degree? In a different language? Did he know something that I didn’t? Should I really cancel my plans and stay in Iran? Is it possible that I might fail? He had caused substantial damage to my self confidence, and created self doubt. The next day I couldn’t hold back anymore, and asked Mr. Dr. candidly. “Do I have what it takes to make it in a different country, and if I can truly become a nurse, or should I cancel my plans to prevent unnecessary expenses?”
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Spared He told me, “I am absolutely certain that you would make an excellent nurse one day, and you possess what it takes to make it anywhere as long as you want it bad enough and stay focused. You have a strong drive, and more important than that, you have compassion. That is the key ingredient in anyone wanting to get in the health care business. Come on now, you know I need a good nurse to work with me, hurry up and graduate, and let’s work together, OK?” He told me as he wiped the tears off my face. I felt so much better, and kept those words in my head, and remembered them when I had hard times in my college years. I actually did accomplish the bet I had made with Farshid, and went on
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Spared and got 2 bachelor degrees in the next decade. I never got to rub it in his face though!

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Spared CHAPTER FOUR Never to return years (Nov 17, 1978)

“I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strangely, I am ungrateful to these teachers” Kahlil Gibran quotes
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Good bye Tehran On November 17, 1978 my dad drove my mom and I to the airport very early in the morning. It was a very cold and rainy day, and the sky was a shade of dark grey. The sound of thunder could be heard in the distant, in the outskirts of Damavand Mountain. The rain made me think perhaps the heaven angels were crying in sympathy with me, as if they could feel my pain. I took a deep breath filling my lungs with the crisp morning air, and the scent of rain touching the
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Spared earth, before I got in the car. As I blew my breath out, steam came out of my mouth. Tehran was as beautiful and as magical as ever that morning. I wore my long wool coat, with a hat and a scarf around my neck to keep warm. I sat in the back seat of my dad’s light blue Mercedes car on the freezing cold leather seat. On the way to the airport, I watched the naked trees pass by, getting showered by the rain, the daily hustle and bustle of people, and people running for a dry place to stand while waiting to catch a taxi. Colorful umbrellas filled the sidewalks. A few birds were flying from one tree to another. They were trying to find a dry
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Spared place to land, as if they were left behind when the whole flock migrated to the south in search of kinder weather. The Jubes were overfilled with water running south, like a ferocious river adding to the whole drama of that rainy day. Venders were selling their goods as usual, people competing in getting taxi’s, and pedestrians swarming in between cars, trying to cross the street with no regards to the red light, in attempt to rush to where ever their destination was. Everyone seemed like going on with their usual daily activities. Martial law had been lifted and life seemed to be back to normal.. I tried to intake as much memory as I could, and save it deep in the archives as my last day in
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Spared Tehran. It was so painful to leave my parents and my homeland behind. The future was exciting and scary at the same time. I couldn’t figure out if I should feel lucky or feel sorry for myself. Going to a country that you have never been to, and don’t know anyone there, and have to learn a brand new language, culture and customs, just sounded so tough to do, and I had to do that alone on my own. That day was the beginning of the long journey ahead, and I had to face a lot of unknown, and see where my destiny would lead me. Who do I cling on to?
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so this cannot be that different. right? I repeated Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 592 . and I had to rely on myself for self soothing and support.Spared Who do I go for a hug? Who will give me emotional support? Who do I consult for a decision? What if I really need my mom and become homesick? What if I can’t handle it by myself? I thought to myself as my anxiety took me away. A part of me knew that a large part of my life was spent alone.

Remember you are very strong. and will do what it takes to make it as a Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 593 . We finally got to the airport which looked to be very busy. but suddenly he lost his battles with his outpouring emotions. and told me. “Now this is where you go and face your future. and he finally busted in to tears. His chin was quivering. and his fake smile finally vanished from his face. and your destiny. He looked obviously sad and glad at the same time. He gave me a big hug.Spared that thought inside my head trying to convince myself that I will be ok. I found my dad struggling. and was trying really hard to hold back his tears. My dad carried the 2 pieces of luggage in to the airport terminal. and after being checked in.

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 594 . I will hold a nursing position open for you until you come back in 4 or 5 years. but that was the last time I ever saw my dad. I didn’t know it then. OK?” He gave my mom a quick hug too.Spared nurse or anything else you want in life. I looked back at my mother’s face and realized how blessed I was to be alive. I was indeed spared and on my way to start what my new life. and disappeared in to the busy crowd. As I boarded the airplane.

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(Nastaran’s step-father) Nastaran’s Step uncle. DR. Aram Noori Farhad Fawzia Mr. Shah of Iran’s first wife. Nastaran Akhavan Page 599 Copy Right . She was an Egyptian princess.Spared Reference People Dr.

who wanted to help Nastaran on Black Friday Mehri’s second husband (Nastaran’s Nastaran Akhavan Page 600 .Spared Gita Habibi Hamed Hassan Jahangir Jamshid Javid Akhavan Copy Right Girl with uneven legs Military Officer Travel agent when leaving Iran Military Guard A doctor and a trauma specialist working in Washington Zari’s husband.

Aram Noori Nastaran Akhavan Page 601 . Dr.Spared biological father) Kaveh Keyvan Military Guard Military Guard Khanoom Hajieh Nastaran’s paternal grandmother (Javid’s mother) Leyla Mahnaz Mehri Mr. Nastaran’s mother Nick name for Dr. Copy Right Nastaran’s high school friend Nasrin’s friend and college mate.

Nastaran’s sister Officer with the firing squad. Nastaran Akhavan Page 602 . Iranian man living in London who gave Nastaran and mom and ride From Airport. Military Officer Mehri’s sister Sharifeh Housekeeper’s daughter. Dr.Spared Najafi Mansoor Neda Nejat Ramin Salehi Sara Sayareh Copy Right Military Officer One of Mr.’s brothers.

Leyla’s boyfriend Mehri’s brother Older lady afraid to help on Black Friday Places Abadan Copy Right Is a city in the Khusestan province in Nastaran Akhavan Page 603 . Sayareh’s mom.Spared Sharbanoo Sharifeh Sina Taher Zari Mehri’s mother (Nastaran’s Grandmother) Housekeeper/Nanny.

Sharifeh’s place of birth. Holy city for all Muslims located in Saudi Arabia. Babolsar Gorgan Lorestan Malayer Mecca Qom Copy Right A city in the MazanJavidn state in Iran. A city in the MazanJavidn state in Iran. A holy city located 97 miles south of Nastaran Akhavan Page 604 .Spared southwestern Iran. A state in the east of Iran A city in Lorestan.

It is very mild in temperature. Sari is the provincial capital of MazanJavidn with very close proximity to the Caspian Sea. in North of Iran. frequent rains. A town by the Caspian sea. where Mehri & Aram were transferred by Army.Spared Tehran. Sanandaj Capital of Kordestan. with tropical climate. famous for Nastaran Akhavan Page 605 Sari Shahsavar Copy Right .

After Black Friday the name was changed to Square of Martyrs (Shohada Square). Also called Jaleh Square. Location in Tehran where Black Friday massacre took place. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 606 .Spared growing best citrus fruits. Shohada Square Same as Zhaleh Square Tehran Zhaleh Square Capital of Iran.

mentioned in Koran. according to the Islamic rules.Spared Farsi Words Chador A large cloth that covers a woman from head to her toes. Mandatory Islamic cover up for women to Nastaran Akhavan Page 607 Gebrail Hajj Hijab Copy Right . Angel of death. which is the duty of every Muslim to do at least one in a life time. Pilgrimage to go to Mecca .

A large apparatus used to brew tea. A Persian dynasty who rulled Iran 1779 to 1925. Nastaran Akhavan Page 608 .Spared hide their hair. Kafan Jubes Konkoor Qajar Samavar Copy Right A white cloth used to wrap a dead body before burying. Open irrigation drains along the side of the road Nationwide testing for selection of college students.

Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 609 .Spared Threading A technique using threads to remove unwanted facial or body hair.

my compass when I needed you the most. Thank you for sparing me.Spared ACKNOWLEDGEMENT My deepest most sincere thanks must go to my god for allowing me to go thru this experience which has made me who I am today. I would like to shower Mili Naugle MFT with a rain of thanks for being my mentor. and comfort me in the worst hours of my life. You made yourself available to me and bent backwards to accommodate my crazy schedule. guiding me. my guide. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 610 .

You are an angel in disguise. and nursed me back to mental health. With your help I regained all the gruesome but necessary memories I had hidden away for 30 years. my guru. You rescued me from hopelessness. and a guardian angel sent from god. Thanks for all your encouragement you gave me which led to writing this book. Wayne Dyer for being my savior. You are my mentor.Spared You continued to counsel me when you knew I was unable to pay for your services. Wayne Dyer to me. Thank you for introducing Dr. gave me courage. my teacher. Special thanks to Dr. You nurtured my wounded soul. Without you I would not be here. and opened my eyes to options I never Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 611 .

and emotional support to finish this book.Spared knew existed. financial. You taught me what unconditional love was all about. your expertise. Thank you my Michael. the love of my life. You were the fuel to go on even when I didn’t think I could. In my most desperate hours. You gave me moral. You gave me your time. and supported me so I can finish this book. kind Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 612 . You are one of the most spiritual. you were there to teach me how to get thru it. and my partner thru thick and thin. Your “Spiritual solutions for every problem” CD gave birth to new hope when I thought I had none. your soul.

Your positive energy is so rare and contagious.Spared hearted and humble people I know. You so selflessly sacrificed and gave me time to write this book when you needed it yourself. Thanks for loving and supporting me. You have taught me how to be patient. Thanks to my little princess Ava for being so patient with me. I am so grateful that god chose me to be your mother. You are the one who reminded me to make sure I meditate before we go to sleep. My heart belongs to your forever. and reminded me to look at things in a positive way. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 613 . I love you so very much. Yet I never heard you complain about it.

Thank you Leyla for being such good friend. for enabling me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. You believed in me even when I didn’t.Spared Thanks to My step father. Thanks for endless hours of editing and inspiring words of encouragement. Special thanks to Jim Hopkins my dear friend. May you rest in peace. Thank you for holding on to me as we faced death. Aram Noori. This book wouldn’t be possible without your help. Dr. It was you who believed in me. and encouraged me to start writing this book. I am so lucky I have Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 614 . Thanks for being the father I didn’t have.

Spared had you close to me holding your arm in the last moments of your life. and I will keep your gold cross pendant safe with me always. but it was so comforting knowing you were right next to me throughout the whole massacre. I cherish the memories we shared together. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 615 . Thanks for showing me how to have courage. Although neither one of us would have wanted to be there. May you rest in peace.

Spared EPILOGUE A lot has happened in the next 30 years. but I will try. It seems impossible to summarize all the events in a sent ace or two. Mr. and obtained 2 degrees. and second is in Nursing. and I would like to give you some idea of what happened since 1979. Dr. died of complications of stroke in 1992. I went on to have 3 children. First one is in Psychology. I never returned to Iran to live. and my mother died in 2001. Since then I immigrated to United States. Nasim Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 616 .

and hope thru this book I may be able to find them or to find Sina. As curious Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 617 . I have not been able to find Leyla’s parents. This book is an accumulation of all the memories of Black Friday that I put away in my subconscious for 30 years until I was ready to deal with it. Javid died in an accident in 1995. and would like to give it back to her family. Sayareh remained in Iran and was never married. but suffers with Alzheimer’s disease.Spared eventually left United States and migrated to Germany. and give them recollection of Leyla’s last hours of life. I only remembered a skeleton version of what had actually happened. I still have the cross pendant. Sedigheh is still alive.

As I went thru therapy by Mili Naugle MFT. Night after night I found myself either running from the soldiers. she reassured me that god does not give you what you cannot handle. and worried about I might feel after knowing the whole story. and give me the strength to deal with it.Spared as I was to know the whole story. and if I am truly ready my whole memory came back. or hearing the countdown Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 618 . Every night I meditated and prayed god to help me regain all my memory. She told me to meditate. to reach to god. Suddenly my prayers were answered and I got slammed with the bitter and ugly details. waking up in middle of the dead bodies. walking in the hallways of the movie theatre. a part of me hesitated.

as I was covered by bruises and black eyes. fighting imaginary soldiers. My 10 year old daughter Ava who witnessed it tells me that I would start walking out of bed. then run in terror. as the details of Black Friday came thru my mind in a dream like state. As I ran in the hall ways I run in to walls which surprisingly didn’t always wake me up. After a week or two of this I looked as if someone had beaten me. When I wake up I found myself in strange places in my house and in pain.Spared of numbers to my execution. Then the memories came back as flash Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 619 . or I would crawl under the dining table seeking refuge. screaming and begging for my life. Every night I found myself amerced in sea of memories.

Spared backs all throughout the day paralyzing me and stopping me in my track. God didn’t give me the memories if he knew I wasn’t able to handle it. not because I just wanted to write a book. but because I Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 620 . After waking up from one of these episodes I would resign to my loyal keyboard and wrote the details page after page. I remember thinking perhaps I wasn’t ready to know all the details. I remember aching to write a book about our lives. but I was. it is hard to believe that there is still so much more that happened to me. my mother and my grandmother to fill yet another book all together. Although I lived thru Black Friday. Mili was absolutely right.

Nothing so unusual. as they were in disbelief. so fascinating. “You should write a book” or “this is better than a novel” they would say. It wasn’t just me who wanted to write a book and tell our stories. and my children to write a book about all that had taken place in our lives. people usually said the same thing.Spared have never known anyone who lived such unusual lives as our three generations. or untold. or snap shot of lives of my mother and grandmother. I felt like I owed my mother grandmother. and interesting should ever be wasted. My Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 621 . While getting together with my friends and coworkers I used to tell those stories of my life. It seemed like it would be such a waste of human experience.

she found herself unqualified to write the book. It was then in her death bed when she opened up to me. Having only 9th grade education. she made me promise that one day I would write our stories and make it a book. She had always told me that she would tell me her uncensored story of her life once I was old enough. As a dying wish.Spared mother also had the yearning to write a book as well about her story. we had nothing but time on our hands. After bringing her home I was determined to stay with her until she was stable enough before I left back to the states. In 2001 when I went to Iran to see my mom after having a massive heart attack. and for the next 3 weeks Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 622 .

resentful. to love as a Persian woman living in Iran. entertained. and hope to complete it within a year. I found myself completely surprised. After all a promise is a promise. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 623 . If it was hard for me to believe their stories. Even though I was a Persian woman myself.Spared straight she told my grandmother’s and her own untold and intimate heartfelt experiences from abuse. and happy at the same time listening to her reveling to me every detail of their lives. angry. I could not imagine what the rest of the world would feel. I had never even heard of such stories. courage. I have started writing the other stories of our three generations.

First degree is in Psychology. She attended USIU as well as SDSU. where she has lived ever since then. and second degree in Nursing. and lived there until November 1978 before leaving the country. In 1979 she immigrated to the United States.Spared About the Author Nastaran Akhavan was born in Tehran. She first resided in Watford England and obtained her high school diploma. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 624 . She has been working as an RN till present. and has 2 bachelor degrees. Iran. California.

and has 3 children.Spared She was forced to retire in 2009 due to disability secondary to Fibromyalgia. Mary. and Ava. Steven. Copy Right Nastaran Akhavan Page 625 . She lives in United States with her Husband. Michael.

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