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Wriggling to be free
The Iranian in me


April 4, 2006

I escape into the Iranian, click into daydreams of sezdeh-bedar in Virginia or New York -- while my research paper rots in a room beside me. So who is the Iranian of the day? What cheap thrills will be posted to help me browse my boredom away? Did that one London-based writer, with a refreshing dose of honesty, who makes a curious landlord, an ex-girlfriend, and British men in a pub come to life, did he write something for me today?

I wasn't supposed to be here, looking at Iranians who might look right back at me, from atop a wooden park bench or crouched beside the charcoal grill. It is past midnight on a Monday evening and paragraphs on my Guantanamo research paper still await me. In the morning, my professors will expect me. I don't arrive searching for serious answers to Iran's foreign policy, I just want to window shop the perspectives of a community.

I might leave the website reconnected to an old friend from Berkeley, or hungry from the photos of saffron rice at an Iranian party. An exceptionally cheesy personal advertisement might make me cringe or laugh -- depends on the day, the mood, the level of joy or velocity.

I might remember that I want to return to Iran, but be too lazy to read all the words in a two part piece. If I want to procrastinate even more, I might click on a video link, hear farsi from the flat surface of a computer screen against a white wall, inside a school, millions of miles away from Tehran/Mona/Roya and the heavily polluted tree lined streets where I make immature faces at eating kaleh pacheh in the early mornings.

It doesn't boil down to barefoot children selling batteries and bouquets at stop lights, or bazaar shopping, visiting for a wedding/crying when I have to leave -- after all, even though I was away for two decades, I can still smile and say my name is Bahar... and then remember, that this is all a dream and that my research paper is calling, and with the high-tech speed of a single key, i can turn off the machine, get up, and leave.

That is the privilege with which I procrastinate and with which I escape. When I feel sleepy, all I have to do is x out of the screen and images of a homeland's barefoot poverty disappear. I can read about two million prisoners in the United States, then open a new screen and download music to match the flavor of my coffee. Reading/writing/thinking are too easy when the motor reflexes of my index finger control the course and content of what I see.

So when I am emotionally exhausted from imagining Tehran as a bombed out ashy cavity in the center of the millenium's next invaded country, with the privilege of not having to live the potential reality, I can just refuse to look at another headline or news magazine. From the face of a computer screen, nothing will force me to live the humanitarian tragedy-to-be.

At a distance, we become allies and enemies/hypothesize other people's suffering/claim to also be aggreived/write/ laugh/remember/and become shy about sharing poetry/ in the quick and easy world of information technology -- where you dont have to be, anywhere you dont want to be and I wanted to sit by the reflecting pool with Mona before it became too hot in Shiraz.

But one hour has passed already, my paper is still rotting, and this whole time that I thought I was going to escape/procrastinate into the, I realize now, it was the Iranian in me that was wriggling to be free.

For letters section
To Bahar Mirhosseini

Bahar Mirhosseini


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Seven Shades of Memory
Stories of Old Iran
Terence O'Donnell

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