For Iranians it seems history does not repeat itself
By Farrokh A. Ashtiani
June 27, 2002
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
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
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.