Photo by Abbas
Revolution of youth
Today's Iranian youth are much more liberated
November 23, 2000
This is honor of all the young people, the students, who continue
to fight for change -- those who have been arrested, imprisoned or sentenced
to death for their ideas, their writings, their peaceful protests.
The past is not where I like to dwell. But, how can one help but to
linger in the past, when they have been placed, squarely in the middle
of their time warp. A cocoon of sorts which harbors memories, left wholly
untarnished by time, isolated from events, still crisp, but difficult to
This is not to say that I do not have a new perspective, born of analysis,
time, experience, age and perhaps wisdom, of my childhood memories. It
is only to say that my childhood memories of Iran are separated from the
rest of my life, the rest of my memories, in a definite and clear fashion,
allowing me ready and unconditional access to them, almost at will.
It is a short walk from my house to the office, about twenty minutes.
I take different routes to work. On occasion, I walk down Sahand Street
-- the street with Madresseh-ye Dokhtaraneh Shahram, which is now called
Nedaaye Azaadi. This is where I went to school before the revolution.
During those last few months before the revolution, when schools were
closed down regularly, we would often pour into the schoolyard, and follow
the example set by the older girls. We would chant revolutionary slogans
that included "Marg bar Shah". Mostly we were looking for another
day off. An afternoon to play. We were wholly unaware of the meaning and
the magnitude of what was taking place around us.
But we were fully aware of our newfound liberation. We no longer cared
about social codes or mores. We no longer trusted our elders. We no longer
respected authority. In fact, all authority was questionable and open for
We felt old. Much older than our age. Grown up, in fact, and licensed
to take part in a social movement, that was moving and evolving with the
force of the people, young people, who were only a few years older than
us. Iran was ours. It was there for the taking and we were going to take
it and make of it what we wished. What that was, no one knew. We could
only guess. And again follow suit.
And, then there were always these boys, from Andisheh, who would be
let out of school just a little earlier than us. They would congregate
outside our school, waiting for girls. Waiting for their chance at dokhtar
There was this one boy, who must have been a few years older than I
was. He had the greenest of eyes and the most beautiful smile. He would
stand with his friends and they would pretend at conversation. We would
do the same. And, on occasion, I would exchange glances with my beautiful
green-eyed boy. Exchange smiles.
I loved him. Though I never knew his name. Never even spoke to him.
But, I lived for the time when we had our chance at flirtation. Innocent
flirtation. Because, after all we lived in Iran. We were Iranian. Liberation
had its limits. Liberation, for us, was finite.
The truth is that the streets, surrounding the house of my childhood
are filled with ghosts. Literally. I always imagined that my childhood
friends continued with their lives after the revolution -- albeit, in a
different manner that I did, but nevertheless continued.
Today, I find that some of my friends, too, left for other countries
after the revolution. Some of them didn't. Life for some of them continued.
For some, life continued in unbearable ways. And, for some, life simply
The truth is that these streets which surround the house of my childhood
are painted red. Painted red with the blood of the boys of my generation.
The blood of my friends. I find now that the father of my friend, Maryam,
was executed during the early days of the revolution.
And, as I walk through this neighborhood, I see the names of young boys,
doubling as street names. I wonder how many of them were those same boys
who would wait outside our school. I wonder if one of these streets is
actually named in honor of my beautiful green-eyed boy.
I wonder how many of these boys from my neighborhood lost their lives
in the war. Or how many of my classmates lost their brothers to the war.
I wonder how many lost their fathers to prisons and executions. I wonder
how many of my schoolmates lost their lives to prisons or executions, because
their political activities or sympathies, their ideologies, their religions,
their behavior was simply intolerable.
I wonder just how many of the children I knew were food for the revolution
-- a revolution we welcomed, despite our parents warnings or objections,
despite not wholly being aware of the meaning and the magnitude of what
was taking place around us.
Enqelaab hameesheh bache-haaye khodesh-ro meekhoreh, no longer has a
political meaning for me. It no longer has a sociological or historical
meaning for me. It is no longer the subject of study. It is wholly and
completely personal. I no longer want to have objective distance from what
has happened. I can't. It is all personal, emotional, heart wrenching,
as it always has been for the people, the Iranians, who stayed.
Today, I see young girls walk out of that same school. In pairs. In
groups. They walk out of my school. They are young. And innocent. And,
I know that they too feel old. Much older than their age. Grown up, in
Today's Iranian youth are much more liberated than we could have ever
imagined. They know a lot more. They are indeed more grown up. Today a
new revolution is taking place in Iran, the revolution of youth.
Young people make up more than half the population. Everywhere you turn
you see young people. They are the majority. There is strength in their
numbers. And they feel licensed to take part in a social movement that
is moving and evolving with the force of the people. Young people.
Iran's youth are indeed aware of the meaning and the magnitude of what
is taking place around them. Iran is theirs. It is there for the taking
and they will make of it what they wish.
What that is, no one knows. But, again the streets are being painted
red with the blood of young people, of another, younger generation of Iranians.
Another generation is again food for the revolution. Our revolution. Perhaps
their revolution. I don't know. I only know that liberation here is still