TEHRAN — I was watching the greatly amusing British TV series Eastenders on BBC Prime, fully dressed and ready to go to our weekly Thursday night gatherings right after the show, when my cell phone rang. It was Mahmoud my friend: “See CNN International, quick, Condoleezza Rice is talking about Iran“.
Reluctantly, I changed my favorite program and found CNN. Yes, there was a press conference, televised live from the US State Department. Ms. Rice was wearing a light grey suit, solemnly reading something from a paper regarding the possibility of Iran's referral to the UN Security Council.
She talked about the “provocative actions by the Iranian regime that have shattered the basis for negotiation” and added that Iran had “deliberately escalated” the situation and was “in dangerous defiance” of the international community. Although she added that the US did not “at this point” have on its agenda the option of military action against Iran.
Then a series of questions and answers followed in which Rice reiterated the fact that the United States had great respect for the Iranian people who “deserve better” than they've got.
The live broadcast lasted for half an hour and after that I felt so discouraged and downhearted that I had to call my friends and tell them I was not ready for partying and went straight to bed. In bed I was tossing and turning and I was thinking about the void and meaningless slogans of the newly selected president of the Islamic republic on wiping Israel off the map and the disastrous consequences it might bring to the miserable people of Iran.
Business people who are still brave enough to work in the Iranian market have already experienced the virtual paralysis of the market after those remarks and the news of breaking off the seals in the nuclear facilities of Esfahan and Natanz. Just nobody buys and nobody sells. The amount of banking loans and facilities granted to businesses has experienced its lowest rate in the past few weeks. Nobody dares to invest on new businesses and the unknown future of the sanctions has caused many businesses to slacken their development plans.
The same unknown future governs the construction sector too and Tehran is laden with all kinds of flats and houses with no customer. Limbo is a good word to explain the kind of situation that is governing the present situation in this economy.
I was wallowing in these thoughts when Goli my fourteen-year-old niece called. Poor girl was jubilant about possible sanctions and the prospect of a US attack on her own country. “Hush girl, the phone is not a good place for that kind of talk,” I said.
Then my brother took the phone and talked about it too. He could hardly hide his excitement. Then one by one my friends called and turned my bedroom into the foreign ministry secretariat. Nobody was worried about my absence from the party. They just wanted to inform me about the big event and the interesting news of our poor country being attacked by unknown superpowers.
I had to unplug the phone and turn off my mobile just to get rid of all those calls and tried to turn in again. For the rest of the night I could not sleep a wink, thinking about what would happen to us and the prospect of an unknown fate. It is quite obvious that in the next few weeks and months there would be shortage of cash in the country and the rate of inflation will redouble. Shortage of fuel will lead to rationing and the price of gas will skyrocket in the black market which in turn will cause fewer and lesser travels and movements around town.
I imagined what would happen if for one single week the electricity is cut off. What would happen to us without no communication and power in the house and all the perishables being spoilt in the fridge. Worse than that would be the shortage of water for days and months. I know there are still places in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities which still do not have their electricity and running water back to normal after the war. No shave, no bath, no hygiene.
No law and order and the free patrol of criminals, rapists and looters throughout cities. Images of all those lootings from museums and public building in Iraqi cities flashed in my mind.
Just to evade these thoughts I got out of bed again and turned on the TV looking for some movie. In the early hours of morning it is so hard to dodge triple x films on hotbird, since almost all European channels show -18 movies after midnight. I found an interesting Greta Garbo movie on a French channel but unfortunately it was at the very moment of the sad ending of the film.
So I turned towards Iranian TVs and saw all those quasi-political clowns congratulating their viewers on the imminent destruction of their own home country. I turned it off and went to bed again. I remembered the rate of fatality among babies in Iraq during and after the war and thought what would happen to the babies in the family will all the filth and water pollution.
The worst part is the fact that the extent of hatred towards mullahs is so magnificent among Iranians that a high percentage of my compatriots both at home and abroad would like to see their country down to ashes just to get rid of them.
Early in the morning I got out of the house to buy milk. Treading my path in the snow I got into the shop and made a bee line for the milk section in the refrigerator. Nasser the young shopkeeper hailed me surprisingly since he had never seen me up on Friday mornings. When I took the milk to the cashier he suddenly said “AGHA DIDIN AMRICA DISHAB GOFT AKHOONDA BAYAD BERAN?” (sir did you hear America ordered the mullahs to go away last night?”)
My God, what has gotten into the minds of all these people?