Sting's song keeps playing in my head as he sings about fragility of life. I cannot get out of my head. He died of injuries after a car hit him in front of his house, while crossing the street six months ago. Although the pain of his passing is lessened, his thoughts are with me and his picture on the mantle reminds me of the injustice in my country, whose roots are lack of punishment for bad deeds and little to no value for human life.
Arezoo is a 22 year old, beautiful young woman, inside and out. She has a younger sister, who loves her, parents who adore her, and a gang of friends and family who would be absolutely destroyed without her. She was the first child born in the huge number of “cousins”. A bright eyed, very fair skinned, blond hair little girl, born in an Iranian family, she was quite a sight and a head turner. My cousin used to tell me he would go pick her up and take her in long walks in her stroller, to get the girl's attention. I guess she was a show stopper. Unfortunately I wasn't there for her birth and didn't get to see her until she was 14 or so.
Arezoo is my older sister's child. She has a special place in Dayee's heart. When I saw her in Cyprus that warm summer day in 1998, it seemed as if I knew her all my life. Maybe it was due to my sister's lengthy letter filled with her pictures, but when I saw her I knew she was my niece.
All their lives, my sister raised these two kids to follow the law, if there is such thing in Iran, specifically, when it came to driving and pedestrian rules. All their lives these kids were ridiculed by all because they looked for pedestrian crossing, waited for the light to turn red, waited for the traffic to clear, even criticize their father for not following the driving rules.
Arezoo was standing at the side of the street waiting to flag a cab. A motorcycle ran a red light and struck her tiny body, through her in the gutter. Her limp, unconscious body was dragged out of the gutter by bystanders and authorities were called.
Her parents were informed immediately and since the house was fairly close, they arrived at the scene of the accident while she was being carried to the ambulance. She suffered a shattered cheek bone, bumps and bruises all over her body, and perhaps a life time of nightmares and questions as to “why”?
The whole thing being an accident, if it was one, could have been digestible, perhaps. But the fact that motorcycles roam the streets of Tehran, following no rules and regulations and if they don't run after hitting someone, there is virtually little or no punishment really bothers me. Overall, there seems to be no good reward and punishment system intact.
I asked my sister what happened to the young man who struck Arezoo. She said that he is out on a $15,000 bail until the court hearing. In the meanwhile, his mother is constantly calling asking for the family's blessing and forgiveness. I think that is absurd. How could anyone be ok with the fact that someone ran a red light, struck a young woman and caused life-long disfigurement and emotional scarring?
While we were on the subject I asked my sister whatever happened to the other young man who killed Amoo. She said that he paid the family 30,000 dollars. I asked my brother in law, how much is a sheep worth in Iran, he said, “about 120 dollars”. My uncle's life was equal to 250 sheep in Iran! He was one of the greatest men I knew, men amongst men and his life was worth no more than a herd of sheep. That is sad.
My sister was asking me what happens in the US in a situation like this. “Well”, I replied, “this kind of thing doesn't happen in America”. I told her that motorcycles don't just run a red light and hit pedestrians on regular basis. If it happens it is extremely rare. As far as punishment, I'm sure it is not going to be resolved by 30,000 bucks, that's for sure. Now, I am talking in general and normally. I know I'm going to get emails from some moron who's family member did happen to get struck by a motorcycle and he/she will use this in depth research of “ONE” and nail my butt to the cross, I'm not talking about that.
I don't know folks, Iran, especially Tehran is looking more and more like the Wild West, where one has to take his or her life in their hands when they walk out the door. I suggested to my family that in order to be safer, they ought to move to Baghdad. It seems as if it is a bit safer there. At least if the Americans drop a bomb on you or mistakenly in a Cheney-ish way, shoot you, your human value is much higher. I don't know how much the Pentagon going rate is on a human life in Iraq, but I'm sure it is higher than 30,000 bucks.
In the meanwhile, Arezoo joon, eshghe Dayee, it sure wasn't like that when I roamed the streets of Tehran. With my cousin Bahram we used to cover most of Tehran on our bicycles and never even fell down. There were no close calls of being struck by a car or any other vehicles. We wore short sleeves, played in the streets, girls and boys, and had a normal childhood and teenage years. I wish nothing less for you and all the children of Iran, even though I know that isn't going to happen.
Be safe and grow old.