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Dear Solitary Donor
One in 160,000

June 5, 2002
The Iranian

Every once in a while -- about three or four times a month -- I get this email: "Hello, you have a new secure order waiting for you at" What it tells me is that someone has used his/her credit card to deposit money for

You would think I should be happy about this. If (i.e. me) is almost constantly short of cash, any amount of money from anybody should be welcome, right?

The problem is that there's one person who has made a deposit every month for the past nine months or so. And I couldn't understand why. She's not a relative. She's not a friend. I've never seen or heard her name before. I guess that means she's a fan of But...

I know I should be honored and grateful and flattered that someone likes so much that she's made a commitment to donate $50 every month. That's wonderful. But at the same time, it's terribly embarrassing. In fact much more embarrassing. I would rather she stopped. I don't want her to be the ONLY one from's 160,000 unique monthly readers to be doing this month after month. I feel terribly guilty. I feel like she's being defrauded.

But there's a personal side to this. And I sense I'm going to get a little mushy.

After the first few months, I thought I should email her something more than the usual automated confirmation note. I did and I thanked her for her generosity. After more donations and more personal emails, I discovered that, yes, she's not a relative, but someone who just likes

A month ago she went to a country without regular access to the internet. When I got a notice from PaySafe that she has made a new payment, I thought she had gone back home. I thanked her and welcomed her back. "You're welcome and no, I'm still out here [in Tashkent]," she wrote. "I have intermittent access to the internet via a very slow modem, so apart from phoning family and friends I haven't really been in touch with anyone."

There's no shortage of people I need to thank for the rest of my life. Practically everything I have, I owe to others. The shirt I'm wearing; it's my brother's. The computer I'm using; it was bought by my girlfriend three years ago (and I still haven't been able to pay her back). The new computer I'm about to install belongs to a friend who also furnished my apartment and cosigned the lease. Monthly bills are paid in large part because two or three members of my family pitch in -- including my daughter.

But for reasons I cannot explain, I'm more thankful to this solitary donor than anyone else. I'm not used to such selflessness from total strangers. Could it be that I'm overwhelmed by pure, unsolicited kindness in time of need?

How can I explain this? Imagine tens of thousands of people surfing and enjoying themselves in and only ONE turns around every month, looks at you behind the veil of the internet, and says thank you. That's how special it feels. It's not even about the money. It's the gesture.

I understand. I completely understand, in the words of the Great Zaid. I am putting you on a giant guilt trip. Some of you (including my own dark side) may think that I'm writing this to put the rest of you to shame -- all 159,999 of you. But it's (mostly) unintentional. And besides, you deserve a guilt trip every once in a while.

I played around with the idea of writing this piece for a couple of weeks. Now I feel I'm somewhat okay with it. I thought even if some do donate after reading this, things will be back to normal in a couple of days. No harm done.

Hmmm... Why am I spending all this time apologizing? I better get to the point.

Dear Solitary Donor:

Thank you. I will never forget your singular acts of kindness and generosity. I will be forever grateful, even if you don't make another payment ever again.



PS: I feel like a gedaa. I should not have written this. Or maybe it's okay. It's good to be open, to let people know. I don't know...

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Jahanshah Javid

By Jahanshah Javid

J. Javid


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