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Persis Erectus
For Iranians it seems history does not repeat itself

By Farrokh A. Ashtiani
June 27, 2002
The Iranian

Your name is Persis Erectus, a prehistoric man. Your clan evolved from Homo Erectus. After a long journey you find yourself standing on the summit of the Mount Damavand, the highest point of the Alborz mountain range, and looking down as far as you can see.

The sun is just rising on your right spreading a thin layer of gold dust all over the landscape. The world is quiet up there. For a moment you close your eyes, just to be able to observe with your inner vision, with your wisdom.

You arrived at this unknown spot after years and years of walking over harsh terrains. Perhaps decades of walking since you left your birthplace. You came from lands far in the west, from the birthplace of your grandfathers, the Neanderthals, and Homo sapiens. You were adventurous and curious; you wanted better climate and better life.

There you are, 10,000 years ago, just arrived from the west, a tired man, but still standing tall. You look at the vast horizon in front of you and you determine this land was for you, and you tell yourself, "I am going to live a beautiful life here."

The cool breeze from the vast lake on the north caresses your face and the warm air from the gulf in the south makes you rejuvenated. You are a traveled man, and now is the time for you to settle. You muse: "I found my home, I found my land."

Tears of joy fall down your tired and sunburned face and you kneel down and kiss the land and taste the snow-mixed-soil on the top of Damavand. The snow has the taste of sulfur, Damavand the sleepy giant still rumbles but today there is no fireworks, you celebrate alone. This is your day. Persis Erectus welcome home!

You kept your eyes closed. You hear a voice from the skies calling upon you: ..."Persis Erectus! This is to be your land. Cultivate it and take good care of it... You will rise to rule the world, and you will be defeated and will fall, but Persis, you shall defend this land that we grant you, for ever and ever."

The voice continues: "At the peak of your power and conquests you will be merciful and compassionate to your enemies, and at the time of defeat you still remain a good leader, a proud soldier. Persis! you shall not let your enemy rule you or humiliate you. Defend your land and your flock with all your might. Don't let your enemies change you and exploit you and don't be hospitable to them and crush the skulls of the wolves that are after your children. We shall name this land of yours Persia... Persia, land of Persis Erectus.


Out of sheer excitement you suddenly open your eyes and wonder what happened to those 10,000 years? How did it go by so fast? You pick a fistful of snow from the peak of the mountain and taste it. And it tastes like sulfur. "Oh, thank god I wasn't dreaming."

But then the sulfur brings you full consciousness and you suddenly realize this taste is from the damn smog and traffic all over the land below you. And sadly you are not even on top of Mount Damavand! You are just in Tajreesh Square, in northern Tehran sitting on the upper level of a red double-decker bus that will carry your nicotine-filled, pathetic and feeble body to your next destination.

You sadly realize that you weren't eating snow, you were just sucking on a piece of noon-shirmal until you fell asleep and inhaling the gas from dozens of city buses polluting the air in the name of industrialization.

A bit frustrated, you bite another piece of noon-shirmal and then ponder upon your disappointment: "Am I truly an offspring of Persis Erectus? What did I do to myself? How come I never heard of this creature, this monkey, this baboon?"

The bus takes off and the rattling noises on the second level mixed with bad odors from within and without mesmerizes your senses until you fall into another melancholic trance, an acquired-self-defense that majority of your fellow countrymen have been using as a panacea to alleviate the load of the social pressure. When the time is tough just take a nap! The idea is that Cyrus is always awake, so that we can remain pacified and dormant.

In your trance you struggle with the turmoil within: "Hell ! I am no monkey, my ancestors were Adam and Eve, and I have seen their pictures in the market. Their full size posters were next to Bruce Lee's. And they were created near Tabriz in the Garden of Eden 7,000 years ago! But shit! Wait a minute, if the Garden of Eden was made by my ancestors, so how could have they lived before Adam and Eve? So perhaps my ancestors really were baboons? Creative baboons. They built gardens so they must have existed! Someone is trying to get the best of me! It must be the damn opium! I know my enemies are these Afghans, they are everywhere, they brought all these opium from Kandahar... or could my enemy be Omrica, the Great Satan?"

The rattling bus comes to a shrieking stop to unload and upload more zombies. And you come to consciousness again. You feel sorry for the poor Afghans and what you thought about them. You know they are not your enemy. They are just as exploited as you are. You are all in the same team, the Axis of Evil team, the ones that did not make it to the World Cup! So you turn around and ask the old man sitting behind you: "Pardon me Haj-Agha! I haven't been checking the newspapers lately, could you tell me who is our biggest enemy these days? "

The old man rubs his head and looks to the left and then to the right and whispers in your ears: "The British never left Iran. They know far more about our land and culture than you and I will ever know. I am not smart enough, ask them. Call the British Embassy and find out who your enemies are?"

Well, I had no access to a phone but I promised him that I would do that.


It was a Saturday morning when I woke up from this nightmare. It was too traumatic and I had to spend another 15 minutes to interpret my dream. I realized that I just dreamed a presumptive heritage, a distant probability. Sadly, Damvand was far away on the other side of the world, Persis Erectus was nothing more than my e-mail address and no baboon ever took that name before.

I wasn't in Tajreesh and I wasn't riding on a bus and I did not taste the snow. But the British are still there. The only part of my dream that was consistent and convinced me that one has to occasionally analyze his dreams, and trust his intuitions! I just wondered what Persis Erectus would have done if he was as advanced and as evolved as we are today?

Someone said, "History repeats itself." For us Iranians it seems history does not repeat itself. It just keeps going backward. A regression.

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