I should not forget that in this country words sometimes turn into ‘crimes’ and ‘unforgivable sins’ as soon as they are uttered. The brush of a pen on a blank piece of paper can ‘agitate the public mind’ and result in [your] prosecution. Speaking [your] mind can be considered ‘propaganda’, sympathy can be ‘conspiracy’, and protesting can be treated as an attempt to ‘overthrow [the regime]‘. Words are legally charged. You should be careful.
I should not forget to teach my eyes to not believe everything that they see, and teach my tongue to not repeat everything [I hear]. What I hear every night are not sounds of screams, waves, or storms. Every night I hear the sound of the “dust and dirt” (+) [who kept] the city awake during the nights.
I should not forget that in this city there is no poverty line, protests, inflation, unemployment, injustice, hunger, inequality, oppression, tyranny, lies, and immoral and unethical behaviour. These are terms used and spread by the enemies.
Nevertheless, nowadays, under the skin of the city something is happening that inspires the words used by poets, is the subject and the scenario for the director, gives courage to the old and hope to the young, and motivates the disillusioned and the hopeless to move. Nowadays, it is as though the heart of the world beats in this city. It is as though Tehran has turned into the Greenwich of the world, a point of reference. Nobody sleeps until the people of this city do. And our hemisphere does not see the light of day until they wake up.
Nowadays, you don’t necessarily need to tour the world to find that spot where your heart will ache, or to find that place where the splash of the ink provides solace. You don’t necessarily need to visit the crisis-ridden areas of the world to find a photography subject. You don’t necessarily need to feel the pain of the people of Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan to compose a melody or chant a song. You can tune your notes and tempos to the heartbeat of the worried mothers in [your] city. You can synchronize the drumbeat of your music to the *tone of the sticks hitting the backs and heads of the people [the protesters].
Nowadays, July’s weather has turned autumnal. It tells the tale of a forest turning into a desert. You can see everything, even if the TV is blind. You can hear everything, even if the radio is deaf. You can read the unwritten words between the black lines of the daily [news], even if the newspaper has silenced . You can feel and understand everything, even if surrounded by the thick, high walls of Evin [prison].
Nowadays, I do not wander in the back alleys of our city alone anymore. My heart is beating in **Haft-e Tir Square and on Enghelab and Jomhouri streets. I hold a flower in my hand to offer it to the Mourning Mothers in this city.
These days it is not only the solitude suffered by Ebrahim in Sanandaj prison or my [other] lonely sisters and brothers in Sanandaj, Mahabad, and Kermanshah prisons. Their pain is weighing on my heart.
I have dozens of imprisoned brothers and sisters. I burst into tears when I hear their screams. A lump forms in my throat when I see their pained faces and torn clothes. I am proud of myself for having such sisters and brothers.
This city is not the same foreign, dull, polluted place with tall buildings anymore. These days, the city is full of ***Neda’s and Sohrab’s. It is as though after long years, the “butterfly of liberty” (1) flew across the city’s sky and joined the people in a choir [about freedom and justice].
Farzad Kamangar Evin Prison December 5, 2009
Translation by Siavosh Jalili for Persian2English
1-Butterfly of Liberty was a song by maestro Khaleqi that he performed 40 years ago with the Tehran Orchestra.
+ The term used by Ahmadinejad two days following the disputed 2009 June Presidential election to describe the protesters.
* Refers to the famous resistance song “Yar-e dabestani” or “My Classmate”. It is frequently sung at student gatherings.
**Central Tehran areas where the protests in the wake of the June 2009 Presidential election took place. Enghleab means “Revolution” and Jomhouri mean “Republic” in Persian)
*** Sohrab Arabi and Neda Agha Soltan were two young citizens who were killed by the security and militia forces in the first week following the June 2009 Presidential election)