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Over and over again
Never stopped to see where we went wrong

August 24, 2000
The Iranian

"Shamlou gone". I stare at the words written in my mailbox with amazement. Wasn't it just a short while ago when I read the same words written about Golshiri? What is sucking the life out of these people?

In a country where we have never experienced something called "freedom", in a place where people have never been able to express themselves directly, those who can say what we all want to scream out with riddles and twisted stories are gifts sent straight from heaven. Those who can make the day seem a little brighter, those who can take away the pain, even if it's just for a moment, are truly worth our respect. These are the ones who might one day be able to help us turn our smoky polluted air a bit cleaner. But what if they're choked up from all the pollution themselves?

I've never been a big fan of Shamlou's but that makes no difference. No one can deny the fact that he's one of the best poets this country has seen for a long long time. His name reminds me of beautiful winter days when I could sit on my mother's lap and hear her soothing voice. I always asked for a poem written by Shamlou which I loved more then any nursery rhyme. A poem about a bunch of sad fairies who were crying. I grew older and forgot the poem but the reason for those tears they shed in the story are still a mystery to me. and now they will remain so forever.

I wonder why we have not had one good poet whose writings have been worth looking at in the past 20 years, not one author whose novel we've all read with JOY. Not one musician whose music we all love hearing. The old ones are leaving us with rapid speed but this time there will be no one there to replace them.Politicians can never represent all their people. They can't show what's truly there. It's the artists who are our true representatives. but it seems as if the old ones are too tired now and there are no younger ones who can qualify to run for office.

I read all the news about Googoosh's concert with awe. I've never heard any of her songs. If it wasn't for The Iranian I wouldn't even know what she looks like. I'm not saying that she wasn't a good singer, I'm only saying that I couldn't care less to find out if she was one or not. But of course I'm sure she's not loved by so many for nothing. She must be doing something right. All these people wouldn't fly out to see her if she wasn't worth hearing.

But the more I think about it the more I see that the reason for all these articles and letters, tears and laughter isn't just because of Googoosh but the generation she represents. The luckiest and at the same time unluckiest generation. I see the way my grandfather's eyes glow when he talks about "the good old days" and I know they must mean the world to him, thought they're all over and done with. Good, wonderful days that were over far too soon and replaced with... I search for the right words but they run away from me.

How many times have I heard my mother talk about her days in Golestan School as if it was the best place on earth? How many times have I heard my grandmother talk about all the things they used to do then as if they could not be done anywhere else or any other time ever again? And how they would have given all that up for the promise of a better future is definitely unimaginable. "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't" goes the saying. So if they had heaven right in front of them how did they lose it so easily? What went wrong along the way? What big, unforgivable crime was committed?

It's just so bewildering to read poems and stories written by people during the constitutional revolution. They could have been written just a short while ag. It seems to me as if we've been running on the same road over and over again but we have never stopped to see where we went wrong the last time. We've never tried to find out who tried to trip us. We've never even tried to get on another path when the current one hasn't gotten us anywhere. Over and over again those in power are abruptly replaced with a different set. How many times has this been repeated in the past century? How many times must we see it in the years to come?

And the weird thing is that no one is willing to take responsibility for their own actions. They are always ready to put the blame on somebody else. All our misfortunes are due to the evil acts of others but nobody seems to know who these "other" people are. Probably they're from another solar system far away because no one can find them anywhere on earth. As if our present condition has nothing to do with our own wrong-doings. The blame goes to the Great Satan, the monarchs, the mollas, or as my dear Uncle Napoleon would say : "Kaar kaar-e englisi-haast".

And ordinary people? They're not at all responsible. They weren't connected at all to what happened in this country over 20 years ago. The pictures we see on TV are fake images. Those people were never actually there. They did not support any specific group come to power so now they can put the blame on others and forget their own role in this confusing and bitter play.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. There are people who can see quite clearly. You might find them in the most surprising places. They can see wonderfully with both eyes but for some strange reason they are slowly cast aside because they're muscles just aren't as strong.

Najmeh Fakhraie is a 16-year-old student in Tehran.

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