We haven’t changed a bit

The whole thing about Ahura Yazdi has brought back so many beautiful childhood memories and I would love to share them with you and I hope they will be as meaningful for you as they are for me and my family.

Kobi was Khomeini's ambassador to our house. I was thirteen at the time of the revolution. Growing up in an upper-middle-class family in Tehran, enjoying a lively and beautiful childhood, never knowing anything about the poor or the sick. My life was filled with each and every kind of refreshment a 13-year-old boy in the late 1970 could have. But the very first breeze of the revolution, which was brought to us by Kobi, changed it all.

Kobra, our old maid, was so dear to us that the children of the house called her Kobi. She was always there for us whenever we needed her. I can still feel the nice smell of her clothes when she took us in her arms and told us stories about her birthplace, Aligoodarz. She could not read or write but knew many poems by heart and would teach us proverbs.

While my mother was strict about table manners and polite talk, Kobi was always relaxed. She let us be ourselves and do whatever we wanted — when my mother was not present. She also used to make us a little bit superstitious.

For example she used to tell us to say asstaghforellah whenever we saw a crow. In her opinion, crows brought bad luck and must be dispelled by saying asstaghforellah. Mind you I still say that whenever a crow flies overhead after all these years and I don't know why. Maybe because it reminds me of Kobi and my magnificant childhood. Or I am still afraid of “bad luck”.

It was Kobi who first brought us news of demonstrations. I remember one day she told my mother about thousands being killed in Tehran's Jaleh Square and then I heard my mother whispering to her “Shhhhhhh, do not ever say these things in front of the kids again.”

But kobi would not stop. First she taught us to how to perform prayers. She used to come to our rooms every day and tell us things about kheyr o shar (good and evil). At dawn she would wake us all for the morning prayers. She did not even know that a thirteen-year-old boy is not mature enough to say prayers. Of course all these things were done behind my mother's back because we never wanted to make our parents get wind of these things and fire Kobi.

Kobi was heedless to my mother's nagging and continued to smuggle news of the revolution. Whenever she was sent to buy tomatoes and potatoes she would make a bee line to the nearest demonstration and get back home after four hours. And later at our nocturnal meeting with Kobi in the kitchen she would tell us about the things she had seen and heard during the day. It was on one of those nights when I heard about “Agha” Khomeini. I wondered what this Agha looked like and why so many people had so much faith in him.

Then one night Kobi looked red-faced and jittery all through dinner, as if she was dying to tell us something. But my mother and father were present and she could not say anything. When she was serving us food I could tell we were going to have a very exciting discussion in later in the kitchen.

After a few hours she told us everything. The exciting news was that she had seen Agha's image on the moon that evening. I could not believe my ears. My 9-year-old sister asked her how come she knew the image belonged to Agha since Kobi had never seen him. Kobi remained unperturbed and told her it was obvious it was him. Whose else would it be? Then she took us to the yard to see for ourselves. And we saw him. All of us. We went out of our way to describe his face!

You know the rest of the story. Daily arson attacks and demonstrations here and there. My older brother was the first member of the family who officially joined the revolutionaries. His footsteps were carefully followed by the rest of us and soon all the kids openly announced the trend to our parents. Kobi was so happy. She was the coordinator of our recolutionary activities in the house. It was she who would tell us where to go during the day and what slogans to chant. My poor mother fumed with anger but could not do anything about it.

To show us that she still has the upper hand, my mother played a trick. One day she packed a lot of stuff and took us all to our family property in the north. She told my father she would not get back until things calmed in Tehran. She made sure that Kobi remained in Tehran to take care of our father and virtually separated us from our dear Kobi.

When the Shah left the country my mother was the only person in the family who cried and when Khomeini arrived she was the only one who locked herself in her bedroom, pretending to be asleep, while the rest of us were glued to the TV to catch the first glimpse of Agha.

The old man came down the steps of the plane and we were then convinved that we were looking at the face of the same “man on the moon”. Even my aunt Shahla, who had graduated from a very good university and was considered a very modern woman, rubbed Khomeieni's beard on the TV screen and kissed it. Aunt Shahla fled the country one year later and never returned home.

So the big changes happened and we experienced things we had never dreamt of. Executions, war, daily bombing, red alert, anti aircraft fire, missiles, rationing of fuel and food, Sarollah revolutionary patrols, basijis and komitehchis … And we developed a new vocabulary; words like mostaz'af, mostakbar, taaghoot, sahyonist, and emperialist …

Kobi died 10 years ago and it really broke my heart. In her final days she told me she was not sure that the image on the moon really belonged to Agha.

Now after 25 years of hardship and living under the reign of this and that mullah, a new phenomenon has turned up. A guy called Ahura who, like Khomeini, wants to free his nation from tyranny. Like Khomeini he is a spiritual leader and takes his power from a super natural world called Hakha.

Khomeini's face was seen on the moon (maah) while Ahura's face is beamed into TV sets via satellite (maahvaareh). Like Khomeini, Ahura can gather people and make his leadership known. And I am sure if he is given the power he would be as ruthless and reckeless as Khomeini. Most interesting of all are hundreds and thousands of ladies and gentlemen who like my aunt Shahla are probably educated, but call Ahura's show and tell him how they love him. Just a few hours ago a lady called the show to tell Ahura how she would like to die for him.

The whole fuss about Ahura, however baseless and insignificant it may be, clearly shows one thing: Iranians have not changed. All the pain and suffering we went through did not broaden our mind. Iranians still see faces on the moon. Iranians are gullible and can be easily fooled and shaped in the hands of charlattans like Ahura.

Believe me if another Khomeini shows up somewhere on the face of the earth, this nation will fall for him all over again. And my mother, still a dazzling at the age of 80 despite suffering from alzheimers, remains seated in her favorite chair before the TV all day long listening to all these things on LA based media, never knowing what is going on.

God knows I would give my right arm to know what she thinks about Ahura.

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