Excerpts from “Journey to Starland” by Soheila Ghodstinat (Vanguard Press, 2005). Ghodstinat was born in Tehran, with an indescribable love for writing. That became apparent at an early age, when her short stories and poems won her prizes in many writing competitions. She left Iran for further her education in Switzerland and United States at the age of 15, not knowing that her destiny will bring her back home to start her own family. In her first novel, “A Journey to Starland”, she talks about her struggles, hardships, hopes, dreams and finally love >>> SoheilaGhodstinat.com
It takes ages for each of us to create, make or build something.
Mansions, castles and houses can be built inch by inch over the course of years. However, within a single second, they can be destroyed, or vanish as if they had never been there in the first place.
A baby becomes child, a young girl, a beautiful woman, an old lady and then, in the blink of an eye, she departs from this life as if she never existed.
And for me, it took years to develop a love that was destroyed in moments.
* * *
“Go back to your husband, sister. You are disobeying your husband. That is not good. Women must do what their men want.” Said one of the mullahs.
“You should be ashamed of yourself, you are just a woman. You have to obey your man no matter what, and you must always remember that,” said another one.
“Your husband has every right to be angry with you, woman, low female creature… ”
They were going on and on and on, repeatedly reminding me that I had no place in their world. And I sat there, pretending, that I was listening to them, I was miles away thinking of other things.
You ask my compatriots, my brothers, friends, fathers, husbands, sons, men, women, children to fight. To fight for their freedom, their rights and their country. To die for things that you believe. Why? What for? For your self-worth? Your self-interest and egoism? Your power? No, that is not God's will, not at all.
Countries, cities, towns, villages, everywhere and everyone should follow you and people like you and your nonsense orders, they should listen to you and obey you. It doesn't matter where, which continent or country or which religion you come from… you could be anywhere, East, West, South, North. You could be anybody with a devil inside you, Persian, European, American, Arab, Asian, African, Moslem, Jew, Christian… You could be from everywhere and nowhere. You are too full of yourself, all you can see is you, all you can hear is you, everything is about you and your power, your corrupt power. For you, everything is you.
I am here, right in front of you, powerless, with nothing. But I am lucky. Why? Because I look around and see the ocean, the mountains, cities, villages, men, women, children with their beautiful smiles. And through that, I see love, I see hope and I see God.
You tell me I have no right to speak or even live without you and your foolish commands. Perhaps you are right, I am certainly powerless, but there is something I have and you don't. And that is my faith, my hope and my love, my love for everything I hear and see, my love for the beauty of life and for God.
I will defeat you because you don't see the stars and you don't hear the birds, I will win because you don't see the oceans and you can't feel the rain. I will win because you don't see the beautiful smile of that little girl. You don't hear her sacred laughter.
So yes, carry on and talk, talk, talk. But one day, sooner or later, I will defeat you, and then you will see where real justice lies, real power, the power of God.
Destiny had invited me to a challenge. A big match, with a champ, an underdog, and God as referee. I had to win this game or else there was no future, no dream, no hope. The game had already started and the champ was persistently attacking me. Fate was much stronger than I was, and the only way for me to win was not to give up, to keep going until I could find an open situation, a good opportunity and then, strike back. With my wonderful audience, my supporter, my enthusiast, all my stars in my Starland, surely, there was a good chance that I would win. Whenever I was tired, or was about to give up, I would look up at the sky, to find my stars, and their flicker and spark would keep me alive.
* * *
Why do simple matters turn out to be such impossible dilemmas? What if my friend, Mahnaz hadn't gone to my school that day? What if the damn list hadn't been hanging on the wall? What if my mother hadn't been so nice as to let me take that trip by myself? And so many more what ifs…
Destiny is channelled through such simple sources and many people don't even realise it. With one tiny simple mistake, one's whole life could change, major events and incidents could be triggered.
I want to begin my journey to my dreamland. I want to see the Queen of the stars. I am so desperate for this voyage that I see myself in that magnificent place with my daughter next to me. We will stay there as long as we can. I know it is impossible to stay forever and we have to come back to the world of reality, the world of sorrow and fury, hatred and deception. But even if it's just for a very short time, we have to see the true love. I am positive that sooner or later we will start the journey to the Starland, the land of love and happiness.