The Day I Lied, Told The Truth, and Lied
On a snowy day several years ago, I went to Guidance Court (dadgah-e ershad) in Tehran. Several weeks earlier, my father's apartment complex had been raided by the police, who had broken the satellite dish and had confiscated his receiver, serving him a notice to attend the court. I had gone in his place, except that if I said I had come in his place, they would have demanded for him to attend himself, so I showed up and declared that I was the owner of the confiscated illegal device. I had to wait with a group with other "suspects," all of whom were middle-aged men and women, engineers, teachers, and businessmen, one a university professor, calmly sitting there talking about politics and traffic. My turn was up. I went in. The judge, a young clergy, read my deposition and asked me what I had to say for myself. I asked him if he wanted me to repeat what was in my deposition, or if he wanted the truth. He said writing lies in my deposition could cost me a prison term, but that he wanted to know the truth. I told him that this dish and receiver was in use by my father, who was in his 80's, immobile in a bed, and alone. I told him it was one of his few outlets into the world outside, and he used it to watch the news. I told the judge that I did know it was against the law to own satellite dishes and receivers, but if the spirit of the law was to keep the society from learning bad things (bad amoozi), I doubted that at 83 years of age and paralyzed, my father was going to learn any new bad things through the medium, and if he did, that he would have a chance to try those bad things or teach them to others. I was found guilty, and the judge ordered me to pay 50,000 toomans in fines. As I left the court, everyone outside wanted to know how much fine I had to pay, as some convicted individuals had had to pay as much as 500,000 toomans that day. I said 50,000. They all wanted to know what I had said to have resulted in the lowest fine. I told them I doubted what I had done (telling the truth) would work for them. After paying the fine and completing the paperwork, I called my father to say that he was off the hook ("Baba jan, tabrik migam, shoma tabraeh shodid."). He was so happy and asked me if I had managed to get his receiver back. I said they couldn't find his, because there were so many confiscated units there, but that I had managed to get permission for him to own one. I went and bought him a better receiver that afternoon and had it installed that night. This one he used happily for two years until he died.