Blogger's Game: Significant People
Well, honored as I am to have been invited by Leva, I now realize what a tough assignment this is! People who have affected my life in profound ways are: Thirty eight people in my immediate family, starting with my parents, who present the mosaic of my identity, all that it is and has become. Mrs. Kamali, my grade school principal, who would take me out of the line to give me a merit (karte sad afarin) on Saturdays for my scholastic achievements, and would again pull me out of the same line on Thursday, to hit my little hands with a wooden ruler (with metal siding), for having misbehaved. She taught me to hate school, studying, discipline, and unearned authority. To this day I am convinced the song “Bad Teacher,” (Moalleme Bad) by Ebi was based on her. I learned from her to hold and kiss children’s hands, respect children and young people, and to give them encouragement and hope because they hold the future in their hands and hearts. Mrs. Javaheri, my seventh grade English teacher, who insulted me because I couldn’t make out the English alphabet, poking mean fun at me, driving me to work day and night to learn English in Tehran, to teach her and myself a lesson or two in a short nine months, and then through the rest of my life. Ali Moussavi Garmaroodi, my eighth grade composition teacher, who taught me to read significant books, and encouraged me to write, write, and write. He provided me with the outlet that has saved my sanity throughout my life—I wished I could say the same for those who have to read my writings! My brother-in-law, who gave me my first job at 15, helping me realize that I can work and not need to be financially supported by anyone else. Sohbatollah Khan, (The Saraidar), the Kurd building caretaker of a company I worked for in Tehran as a young woman. He taught me that commitment in a relationship (in his case marriage), is a very good thing. My friend, Mandana, who is one of the most unusual people I have ever met. She is bright, well-read, and a deep thinker. Above and beyond her many intellectual capabilities, however, she has the most unwavering set of values, an open mind, and a heart of gold. Mandana is the kind of friend everyone should hope to have. With her, even during my darkest days, I have never felt alone. From her, I keep trying to learn how to be a woman of my times with love, honor, and integrity. My friend, Linda, who has taught me all I know about American life, values, lingo, and heart. An unnamed woman in Mashad. Some day I will write on this woman in more detail. For now, I tell you that she is a mother of four sons and two daughters. All her sons served during the Iran-Iraq war, one of them was killed, one of them returned 70% disabled from his injuries during the war, and one of them came back with mental disabilities as a result of his tour of duty. Her son-in-law was also killed in the war. She taught me strength and hope. Nargess Khanoom, a woman in the village of Ghassemabad Olya on the border of Mazandaran and Gilan, from whom I learned that among all the darker things we see and feel in our fellow countrymen, there are bright beacons of light and hope, trained not by schools and universities or books, but through circumstances that could pull a woman out of a corner, and put her in a prominent place in her family and her community, commanding respect from all. Nazanin, a woman I met at a barbeque party in the Bay Area, during some of the darkest days of my life. Despite her chic and modern appearance (very gherty), in contrast to what a clergy might look like and say, on that day she reminded me that when we believe in God, we don’t have to worry about every little detail of our lives, and that some of that heavy burden can be left to God to carry for us. My life changed after meeting her, I believe. Sheila Williams, a woman who gave me my first job in the US, trusting me, and believing that the shy foreign student she had in her charge, could do things even that young woman didn’t know she could do. Two men who helped me run the gamut of feelings and experiences in relationships. Though my overall evaluation of both of them is not very high, more so in retrospect, I cannot deny the profound impact they have had on my life. Enough said. One hundred young Iranian men and women who worked with me during the fourteen years I lived in Iran, for teaching me a thing or two about the new generation of Iranians, their strengths, their weaknesses, their hopes, and their fears; for teaching me when I felt lost and displaced that Iran is mine and I am Iran’s, and that to sweat blood for a cause as dear as building hope for it, was a worthwhile effort which paid for itself in joy through and through. Young Iranian journalists, who are intelligent, wise, and brave, teaching me every day of my life that thought cannot be erased, suppressed, or stopped even through imprisonment, torture, and accusations, even when there is no newspaper in which to write, even when people fear reading the things they write, even when the day looks darker than the darkest nights. Hossein Mokhtari, Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, Dariush and Parvaneh Foroohar, and the other victims of serial killings of intellectuals in Iran, and Akbar Ganji, whose lives and deaths and near-deaths have helped me find new understanding and hope in the future of Iran. My list is not complete, but I believe there is a representation of the hundreds of people whose good and bad acts have touched me and have made me ponder and act in the best ways I knew how. My life would be a lot less, and less meaningful, if I hadn’t known each and every one of them. Now I would like to invite Mrs. Shin, Tameshk, Rahnavard, Peyvand Khorsandi, and Yek Negah to the game.