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Revolution

For children's sake
Parents, children and the 1979 Revolution

 

Lobat Asadi
April 20, 2005
iranian.com unedited

While it is tempting, you just can't blame the 1979 Revolution for everything. We should take a hard look at how some men left behind their children in order to either save their country or encourage the Revolution. The latter, no self-respecting intellectual Iranian will ever admit to, no matter how open-minded. But the disturbing truth remains that many did support the revolution, yet most regret their decision. As a result, some Iranian youth of the 70s had to endure the loss of their pride and history as well as and the break up of their family.

The children's side of the Iranian Revolution is the one we never talk about. The tragedies children abroad went through created a specific breed of Iranians. The marriages that were destroyed during the Revolution gave birth to a new type of half-Iranian half-unrecognizable individuals who had to overcome enormous obstacles, racism and their own painful identity crisis only to find out they will never fit in.

Some names have been changed in the following stories to protect what remains of their dignity. 

Daughter of Persia
"Baba? Chera Raftee?"

Maryam was 11 when the revolution happened, but she always knew her father wasn't from the same country they lived in. Her little sister was 3. Bavaria was a far stretch from Iran, but since her father's country was on the TV a lot these days, and her mom and dad were yelling a lot about the news, she knew things weren't normal. A few weeks later, he left. Ahmad said he went to Iran to fight for his country, and that he would return. He never did. 

No child should grow up so fast. Maryam was an 11 year old in the body of a 40 year old, caring for her little sister and devastated mother when their father left. Somehow, Maryam grew into a young woman and went to America to study, there she married an American man, and had 3 daughters of her own. Now a mother herself, Maryam made the brave decision to find her father, after 23 years of little to no contact with him. The thought of him was eating her up inside. 

Once, she asked an Iranian she met on a plane, who she spotted reaching a book called, "Daughter of Persia," to help her call her father, as she couldn't speak a word of Farsi. The woman was happy to oblige, stricken by the courage Maryam had to face from such an early age. When the woman called, He cried, and even she broke down as the messenger of a lifetime of this family's pain.   He said he had another family now, a son and a daughter, from his new wife he married when he returned to Iran all those years ago. Ahmad thought he had left Maryam behind in the southern part of Germany, with her mom to raise her. He thought he had left the pain behind, he thought he could forget and start fresh. 

Ahmed never called, a paralyzing fear overtook him every time he thought about his kids and wife in Germany, so he tried to imagine they never existed. It was all some distant dream now. Instead, he chose to hide under a new guise of a decent, loving, father, and he never told anyone the truth about the life he left behind - he didn't even whisper the memory of it to himself. Yet, during the silent moments between his fake words and phony sentences, he would silently recollect his life's great tragedy.   

Nushin's pink dirt bike
Nushin remembers the revolution as if it happened yesterday. She was an only child, a tomboy dressed in overalls and pigtails, and she loved her father fiercely. It was he that took her to the zoo and let her run her pink dirt bike to the ground, and it was she that slept in the living room with her daddy when he came home late from his second job at the automobile factory - so dirty that mommy wouldn't even let him into his own bed. 

Hamid only brought his family to the US for a short period of time, but he now that the war was underway with Iraq, he thought they should stay for good. Although the prices were high and the wages for a foreign student were really low, he thought he should keep trying to make it for the sake of his daughter. His studies were almost over and 9 year-old Nushin was all over his case about quitting smoking on a daily basis. Once she hid his cigarettes and he had to beg to get anything more than 4 a day.  

It was around that time when the Revolution broke out in Iran. Hamid thought of his mother in Esfahan, his sister, niece, younger brother and friends. Would they all die? He had to go, he had to do something to save them, and he had to leave immediately. But his wife Feryal couldn't imagine a life in Iran after all that was happening on the news, it wasn't a safe place to live! Hamid left the next week, with tears in his eyes. Nushin held on to her daddy's bath towel, as it was the closest thing next to being held in his arms. She didn't even have the heart to get on her bike anymore. 

He tried not to call much, because he just cried and apologized. Every 6 months or so he would send money in red and blue international mail packets, but it would be another 16 years before he would see his daughter Nushin again. After those first hard years passed, Hamid was either always short on money or burdened with a new girlfriend that kept him far from his former pangs of fatherly guilt. The lonely nights passed into empty years and Nushin grew into a rebellious teenager, consumed with sadness and anger.

When the lights were out, she felt brave enough to remember her father's face. Until the day came that she couldn't remember what he looked like anymore.   Sometimes, Nushin would sneak out of her window at night, trying hard not to wake the dogs, and ride her bike until the blood pounded so hard in her lungs that she would forget her misery and think only of her survival.   She would spend her adult years wondering what she did wrong to her father for leaving and why her mother resenting having a child from her former husband who brought her to America - a place she neither loved nor could leave.    

Living by the sea
Madame Dadashi came from a very well known Tehran family. She was one of the few that came from a family of half German - half Iranians, who were married in the early part of the 1900s. Their family worked with the ruling family of Iran at the time, the Qajar, and they had a lot of clout in Iran. It wasn't a big surprise when her daughter, a young blond beauty, married a Mansour, a famous Iranian intellectual, scholar and writer. No surprise at all that these two social elites would be well matched. Soon after their two daughters were born, they moved to the south of France, and raised their little girls, Ladan and Leila, near the ocean's waves. They were to go to the best schools and wear the latest Parisian fashions. 

The waves came crashing down on Mansour when the revolution hit Tehran.  He felt a surge of allegiance to his native land of Persia. He always felt Iranian, and he had never accepted life fully in France, nor had France accepted him. He was living off the remaining bits of his wife's, the heiress, fortune, and everyone knew it. Mansour wasn't well known or accepted in France among the elite. Could it really all be gone?

Mansour left his little girls behind, they were 7 and 9, and flew to Iran alone to document what was happening in Iran. He missed his power and prestige in Iran. He was a man and he would show everyone he was somebody, if not in France then in his own country. He didn't visit France again, and he didn't utter a word of French to the new wife he eventually took. A quiet woman, who he treated as more of a maid than anything else. If his daughters called, he would listen, all the while holding his breath in, and remaining a beacon of strength next to their whimpering sobs. Mansour was unreachable, he was always as elegant as an emotionless statue, and he assumed the role of a silent tower, a Persopolis carving of granite and marble and a father no more.

Are you a child of the Revolution, or do you know someone who faced the Iranian Revolution as a child and just managed to make it out alive? Its is not only the bullets and bombs that shattered the psyche of Iran, but the love lost and the families that became dismembered, which led to the demise of Iran and the Persian family. If you have such a story to share please get in touch with the author, who is writing a book entitled "Children of the Revolution," Iranian short stories inspired by real-life events of the Iranian Revolution. 

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