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Count your blessings

This small world is in a lot of pain

June 7, 2002
The Iranian

For weeks now, I have been catching him do this, almost in a carefully planned manner. He walks through the door, down the hall, his pace slowing down as he inches nearer and nearer to my locker. I turn my head to talk to a friend, knowing that at this angle I will still have the ability to see his movement out of the corner of my eyes.

Unlike all other days, today is different. Today, I do not need to turn as he walks away and slump my shoulders, walking to class alone to think of what if... Today I feel his presence behind me, the scent of his cool cologne fills my head with teenage daydreams that can only be fulfilled in soap operas and fairytales.

He says my name, more like a whisper than an address, and I turn to face him. "Assal...." He says, and I smile at him, that same smile that me and my girlfriends used to spend hours perfecting in front of bathroom mirrors, bedroom mirrors, mirrors in clothing stores, mirrors everywhere...

"Assal..." he says again, a little louder. Unlike the American boys, this pesar does not butcher my name, he knows its sweetness. "Assal will you..." And I hear the words yelled loudly into my ear, "Assal will you quit dazing off and do your work?!"

I wake up and take a moment to adjust my thoughts to fit the reality that I find around me. The television is on and there's a woman on the screen, a very American woman in very Iranian attire, if ya know what I mean.

Her name is Ashleigh. Yes, Ashleigh. And she is telling ME about Iranian women.

"Do you like the hejab?" she asks this girl who is looking into the camera with an unattractive scowl on her face. The girl, probably unsure of what she is being asked replies, "Very very Good, yes..." I shake my head and change the channel, resenting the fact that from now on, all Americans who like to srgue with me will throw in my face that most Iranian women enjoy being forced into religion.

Next up, Hardball, with Chris Matthews, a man I usually can't stand. He talk and talks and talks and finally he introduces us to his next guests, an Arab scholar and a female Iranian professor. I listen carefully as he asks them what they think of Eye-ran.

I expect another messed up reply, doctored to fit the mold of what the public wants to hear, but no, I see a glimmer of hope in the ever-widening sea of despair. The woman strongly speaks her mind and tells the mojri about the true nature of the Iranian people. Their desires for democracy, and their disillusionment with what has been termed by Robin Wright to be "The Last Great Revolution".

The segment ended and I turned off the boob tube, ready to crack open my international politics' book and start learning. It was then that I saw pictures of Ethiopian children starving to death in scattered villages and the pain in the eyes of the Japanese peeking through the barbed wires of their internment camps. The list of heartaches goes on...

I opened my eyes for the first time and realized the pain that surrounds me in this small world. I looked around and thanked God for the roof over my head and the food in the fridge and the fancy car and the endless closet of clothes. But most of all, I was thankful for all the love in my life.

And the next day, I stood by my locker and when he walked by, I called out his name, "<#_%!!" and he turned to look at me, smiling. I walked a little closer and finally executed the forever practiced smile and asked, "Will you go out with me?"

In a world with so many ups and downs (mostly downs...) what was there to lose? Nothing. And we lived happily ever after...

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Assal Badrkhani

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