When I was a kid growing up in the small city of Shahr-e-Rey, about ten kilometers south of Tehran, where its major industry was importing corps and exporting Bacheh Akhond, baby mullahs, most exciting entertainment in our daily life was to sit around with the other kids watching each other grow. Moving to the capital, Tehran was the most stimulating experience in my life. Everything appeared unimaginably different: much bigger, shinier, newer, and on the grandest of scales, so spectacular that could drive a kid literally mad.
The streets in the northern part of Tehran, where the “beautiful” and “affluent” inhabitants lived, looked unreal, seductive. The buildings were noticeably taller than those in Shahr-e-Rey and unbelievable in architecture. In Shahr-e-Rey, a city of about twenty thousand highly uninformed and innocent dwellers with frozen brains, who lived exactly like their ancestors of centuries ago, we would see an old jalopy on the road once in a while, but in Tehran, a city of five hundred thousand az mau behtaran, better than us, the streets were full of the latest models of automobiles from every industrial country around the globe. Oh, the cinemas! The motion pictures one could see on those silver screens! The rapture with which they infused my imagination was so powerful and everlasting that all those wonderful images are still retrievable from the dark labyrinths of my mind in fine details. The latest styles of clothes, the glare of the wealthy women’s jewelry, and the plethora of goods exhibited in shop windows overwhelmed me. The men wore suits, ties and hats, and walked along side of their women in public, holding their hands, beautiful women, whose shinny hairs were uncovered with chadors. It was hard for me to believe that they were Iranians; like everything else they looked as if they were imported from Europe. It appeared that my newly discovered Garden of Eden had even its own version of Persian culture.
I leisurely walked around the city, fascinated and sometimes dazed for days, believing I was indeed in paradise surrounded by angels. It was then that I began to admire one of our most despicable and perhaps hated kings, (with such a large number of horrendous kings, Persians are lucky to have wide options of which one they can hate the most), the Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar, the pipsqueak cutthroat. Should you have any uncontrollable desire to know how Agha Mohannad Khan Qajar looked, of course with beard, don’t bother to look into the history books. Just take a good look at Iran’s Supreme Leader’s “beloved” President, Mahmoud Ahamadinejad, who undoubtedly has inherited the DNA of our “noble” king, the founder of the Qajar dynasty, and also the architect of Tehran.
I soon learned that Agha Mohammad Khan with his army, on his way to, or returning from, don’t ask me which, to or from fighting the Russians or the Turks, again I don’t know which, stopped at a small place, where there was this natural spring water called Taheh-Rey, somewhere near the end of Amiriah, about three hundred years ago, give and take a decade to two. As all the Farsi-speaking people know, taheh means end of something, and Rey is the name of the nearby ancient city, my millennium-sleeping hometown, which together mean the end of the city of Rey. He decided to build a fort right there around the spring, and move the capital from Shiraz to there, where he can defend the heart of his savagely-acquired empire from young Lotf Ali Khan-e Zand, from the northern threats; the Turks from the northeast, and the Turkmen, from the northwest. Soon Taheh-Rey became a city, with various gates, and as it grew bigger the pronunciation also gradually evolved to Taheh-ran and then to Tehran of today.
Before my eyes could completely get used to the glare of things, Tehran began to show me its true color. Yes, all those shiny things were lumped together to create a gigantic facade, a huge mask, to cover the true ugliness of the city. In my late teens, as my brain grew bigger, more doses of the reality of Tehran gradually began to sink in. Soon, I was told by a high-ranking member of the Tudeh party, the official Communist party of Iran, that those Tehranis, who live in the north section of the city, are the sole cause of all the ills in our country. Well, when you are that young, stupid or naïve, or both, it is easier to find someone else responsible for your constant failures and miseries. I believed in everything those great city intellects of our time told me. Why not? I was only yek bacheh dehaty [a villager kid], thus as impressionable as a freshly hatched duckling.
As an example, I noticed, with some surprise, that my newly discovered paradise did not have, among many other things, a sewer system. Instead, in every house people had dug a deep well for storing their wastes. True, back in Shahr-e-Rey, we didn’t have the vision, the sophistication, the money, or the foresight to have a sewer system either. But after all, our city was the size of a village and as is common in villages worldwide, villagers relieve themselves outside in an open field, which not only allows them to enjoy the scenery while doing it but it’s good for the soil as well. But how the residents of Tehran, the city of “angels”, the home of all our visionaries and our beloved handpicked leaders, manage the monumental amount of wastes they accumulate in this city? I was puzzled. I went to see my newly picked guru, an educated man—a real honestly good scholar. In spite of the fact that he wore a Stalin look-alike moustache, surprisingly he was not member of the Tudeh Party. Very rare for an Iranian intellectual, he was independent, a non-believer of all the “isms” of his time. My unfortunate guru was considered an “undesirable” therefore a dangerous creature by the regime, a man who had to live in seclusion from government agents for having written a few articles that had angered the ass-kissers of His Majesty. You might rudely ask why a person in that tender age needs to have a guru. Why not? In a society where for twenty-five-hundred years, we Persians welcomed every stupid savage bastard to become our Sultans, Amirs, Kings, Shahs, and recently two backwards and blood-thirsty lunatics, two ghosts of our distant past, to become our indisputable leaders, Imams, thinking for us, telling us what is good for us, I had all the rights to select a person who could make all my decisions.
Well, I made a mistake, among a host of other meaningless questions I asked my guru a wrong one, innocently, What would happen to this city when its population increases, let’s say to, one million? He scratched his forehead, massaged his right cheek, cupped his chin, and philosophically responded, The entire city will sink into its own waste. Well, when you are young, full of pep with abundance of testosterone in your blood system, standing at a crossroads of time and place, where the “fresh” breeze of Marxism constantly blows from the northern borders, hitting your face, and you rise every morning to see the shadow of His Majesty, the Shah, hanging over you, you could not believe such a pessimistic view, no matter what standing your guru enjoyed among the intellectuals of your society. Not only didn’t I take him seriously, I forgot his “absurd” prediction as soon as we departed. But I kept thinking about Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar. Surely, I believed, if he could have seen the future of his creation, he would undoubtedly have said, Goh khordam, ghalat kardam, be ghabre pedaram (if he even know who was his father and where was his grave) khandidam, for building such a city!, which is a beautiful poetic way of saying, I unequivocally regret building such a city! Or proverbially saying, I ate shit for doing such a thing! If you don’t believe me, go back to Tehran of several decades ago, find the old retired diplomat, an amateur historian, in a small dekeh, a cozy bar, tickle him with a bottle of vodka, he will tell you the same story, word-by-word about our beloved Tehran.
I finished high school while flirting with communism, reading everything I could find written about the “holy” subject, swallowed each morsel before chewing them, most of which, when my brain grew larger, to my regret, I realized weren’t worth the papers they were printed on. I struggled hard to make sense out of the scheme of things in Iran, the country I loved so much, even though I didn’t own a meter by half a meter land for my grave to be buried in. I failed miserably. Understanding how things function in a society such as Iran, where all components and sub-components of its culture are dominated and polluted by only one element, its subverted religion of Islam, the Shiite, [pillared by an imaginary infant, a God-like entity, who resides somewhere among the clouds (or recently lives in the bottom of a well near Qum), with historically known fact that this phantom child is supposed to be from the eleventh Imam, who was unable to pregnant a woman], is difficult, especially at the tender age of eighteen. Now if that religion is saturated with fanaticism and the toxicities of its brainless and blind followers, when even its non-believers preserve and protect that element and those components like treasures, it makes it more difficult to understand anything, no matter how old you are. It becomes extremely hard to make heads or tails out of the configuration of things when the members of a society only know how gloriously to celebrate misery, beating themselves with chains, slapping themselves on their chests, and cutting their own heads with daggers, and with the drop name of an Arab, Imam Hussein, everybody tears up immediately. When all you hear from most its poets and writers, the never-ending verses and narratives of naneh man ghribam [mommy I’m lonesome], how can anybody expect a young man to develop a positive and healthy altitude for life? Finally, when the leaders and politicians of that same society, the role models, try to protect their own interests only, which are in contrast with the rest of the people, it is time for a young man to drink cheap vodka and drug himself to oblivion. I was only a curious young man, and all I wanted was to live a free and decent life, with only some degrees of personal freedom, with a few laughs now and then, a few morsels of food for my mouth and mind, to enjoy the simple things that life offers: falling in love, marrying, buying a house, filling it with a herd of runny-nosed uncivilized kids, or as Kazantzakis phrased it, “the whole catastrophe.” It wasn’t too much to ask! Was it?
Tehran, even in all its spring and autumn spectacular beauty, gradually began to look awfully unattractive to me. One night, I had this horrifying nightmare. I dreamed that the earth beneath the city began to shake violently—an earthquake with maximum intensity. The entire city began to sink into an ocean of sewage, with neon lights flashing the bright red, green, and white words over the surface of that immense sea of human wastes: Made in Iran! Designed by its pseudo intellectuals and fanatical religious leaders! Implemented and maintained by its self-appointed ruler, and their brainless followers! I woke up baffled and sacred shitless, soaked in sweat. I remembered the words of that wise man, the profound prediction of my great guru: The whole city will sink into its own waste! Boy-o-boy! That was a frightening night, a wake-up call. I went to seek the counsel of my dear guru again, whom I never drink a glass of water without seeking his counsel and permission. He patiently listened to the details of my dream. He then told me bluntly, There’s no place or any hope in this modern world for societies with ancient civilizations that stubbornly refuse to change. When I said, So? He snapped back at me rudely, You stupid, young man! That means the more time changes, the more this society goes backward. If you don’t want to be put aside like me, get your fat butt out of this country. Go somewhere else, where you can make something out of yourself, to become somebody, and may have a chance to serve your country better while enjoying a few days nature has granted you. Boy, he was angry. Being raised in a rigid culture that resists change stubbornly, like everybody else, I never liked any abrupt change in my personal life. So I let his harsh words to exit from my other ear, and decided not to leave the country, but to move to another city. To my surprise, I discovered that the other cities had the same problem. They all had no sewer systems, and they surely and predictably would, most probably, share the same destiny as Tehran. They would sink into their own waste sooner or later. Thanks to regular usage of inexpensive Aragh-e-Keshmish, the cheapest brand of over 90-proof vodka made from raisins, inexpensive and readily available hash and opium, and in the company of a few idealist and penniless friends more lost and miserable than myself, drinking and drugging myself insensible, I continued living my hopeless life back in Tehran.
With the leadership of the Tudeh Party, ordered by the Kremlin, standing ideal on the sideline, the CIA “successfully” staged the coup d’etat of 1953 in Iran, which rattled the hopes of the populace, destroying aspirations and political future of the country. A few days afterward, somehow, my name appeared at the bottom of a list of “undesirables”, surely and positively by mistake. Scared, on the run, I was arrested in Varamin’s desolated railway station shortly after and transferred to Ghasr prison in Tehran the following day. They tortured me three long and unforgettable times. Of course, comparing to what unique interrogation techniques the current government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is implementing on its political prisoners, to their “undesirable elements”, mine were nothing, a little painful at times, but tolerable most of the time, and often educational and, thanks to my handlers, sometimes even downright comical in nature.
They kept me in prison for six long months. While there I saw a very influential man, who knew many people in Zahed’s government and addressed them by their first names. By seeing him among us ill-fated “undesirables”, I was certain that his arrest must have been a big mistake on the part of the new government, so he would definitely be released soon. I summoned every bits of my por’roueie, obnoxiousness, and approached him, without any hesitation asked him to help me when he got out. With a tone of voice exclusively possessed by men of high stature, he promised me by saying, Son, when I get out, which is probably a few hours from now, I will order those bastards to release you immediately! His words sounded like a Chahar Mezrab in Mahoor played with Ney, a joyous rhythmic and heartwarming piece, if played masterfully, even a depressed, angered or deranged monkey would start dancing to it until he drops dead. As I was about getting up to dance, I controlled myself, for I was afraid other “undesirables” would think I was having a full-blown nervous breakdown, or have rented out my upstairs, meaning, I have lost all my marbles.
He was out the next day, and I was happy as any of my inmates in that hellhole, anxiously sitting in a corner, waiting to be released. Only two days later the prison guards brought the influential man back to the prison again. As soon as he saw the obvious shadows of bewilderment on my face, sitting in the shade against the wall in the yard, he walked to me and with the same tone of voice he said, Son, I didn’t forget you! I ordered the bastards to release you immediately! What happened that you are still here? I thought he no longer was an influential man, so I said, It’s okay, sir! Don’t worry about it. They will release me one of these days. I didn’t wait for his comments and walked away.
The very next day, while I was in the yard for the daily walk, I saw him with a guard, ready to leave the prison again. As soon as he noticed me, he signaled me, wanting to see me. Again with the same authoritative tone of voice, he said, Son, I’m leaving. As soon as I’m out, I’ll issue a directive, ordering and commanding those sons-of-bitches to release you immediately! I thought for a few seconds then replied, Sir, can you do me a favor? He looked at me, puzzled. Then replied, Yes, of course, Son! What is it?” I said politely, See, sir! I would appreciate it very much if you didn’t issue any directive, ordering or commanding the authorities this time. Just tell them nicely and softly that this kid has done nothing against His Majesty. In fact, tell them he loves His Majesty, and beg them to let me go. Once again, please don’t issue any directive or order them. Just ask them nicely. He stared at me for a while, smiled, a twitch in his eye left me to believe that he fully understood my point. He said goodbye with a firm handshake, and disappeared in the abyss of the political chaos of the post-coup d’etat time.
Five months, twenty four and half days later, during which I endured one savage and brutal (by the last regime’s standard) and one mild (by any standard) torture sessions, I was released, apparently because I no longer could impose any threat to the livelihood of His Majesty’s regime! That was what I thought, but when I insisted to hear it from the mouth of my handler, the officer in charge with his bright uniform with so many colorful medals on his chest that left no room for more, he nonchalantly responded, We thought you were somebody. I said (very politely, of course), I told you I am nobody many times during my first torture session. Why didn’t you believe me then, instead of torturing me two more times and keeping me here for nearly six months? He replied, Because you are a bacheh por’rou [an obnoxious kid]! For your information, he continued, if it were entirely up to me, I would blast your head against the wall behind you right now! He couldn’t have been any more explicit about the issue than that. Boy, the great servant of His Majesty had a point, and I fully understood him. I expressed my opinion jubilantly to him that I was very happy that it wasn’t entirely up to him, and conveyed my gratitude to him for being released with my brain still in my skull and so expeditiously. I have known many reasons and excuses whereby governments arrest, torture, and murder their “undesirables”, but I haven’t been able to locate even one government worldwide yet that has such harsh laws for kids with obnoxious attitudes.
I went to my guru immediately after my release, for I was deeply wounded and needed some consolation, means to lick my wounds. I could tell myself, What the hell if they ignored your rights? No one expects to have any rights in this country, anyway, but what about your pride, honor, and your humanity?
My guru looked at me with watery eyes as he heard the sad details of my unfortunate predicament. His teary eyes, to some extend, reduced the pain and humiliation the regime had caused me, and I felt better that there is at least someone in this unjust world who has enough humanity to be genuinely sympathetic to my sad ordeal. But, somehow I knew he was going to tell me, or at least, he was thinking, Didn’t I tell you to get the hell out of this country, you stupid kid? He didn’t say that. Instead, he extended his counsel to me for the second time. This country is sinking and sinking fast. Get out as fast as you can.
I decided to take my guru’s advice this time and leave the country, not because I was afraid of the regime, or I was miserable, but for the mere fact that I could accept any kind of death except dying in the cesspool of my own waste in case of an earthquake. I left the country, subsequently obtaining an engineering degree in electronics from a reputable university in the United States certifying I could perform some tasks well enough to make a living, on the road to become a prosperous but for eternity homesick industrialist, that unfortunately I have become now.
All this time, I kept an account of the population increase in Tehran and other big cities in Iran. Tehran grew very fast in my almost two decades of absence. In 1960, when I left Tehran, it had sufficient wells to accommodate the sewage of only about five hundred thousand inhabitants, but in early 1970s, when Shah’s White Revolution drove multitudes of farmers to the big cities, the population reached around four millions, and still there was no sign of an earthquake and subsequent sinking. Then I read, with a great deal of interest, the Shah’s interviews in American newspapers and watched several of His Majesty’s live interviews on the tubes. Inflated with the excessive air of pride bordering arrogance, he claimed that Iran, under his leadership, had embarked upon a journey that inevitably would arrive at the gate of a Great Civilization. Or, if my memory serves me correctly, he claimed that Iran had already arrived at such a gate, or even passed through it, that only Sweden is there to catch up. At first, I was flabbergasted. Then came this great joy slightly mixed with pride running through my veins. But after a few minutes of reflection, I began to feel miserable for having left Iran so early, denying myself the fruits of such a profound economic and social achievement. I felt like going back to my good old university and finding some of those professors who always looked down on me, a kid from a backward country, with a wrong attitude, slapping them a few times, and asking them, What do you have to say about my country, now? I finally decided to express my anger by writing a letter, particularly to Professor Gibson, who during my entire years at the university never let me forget that I was from a backward Third World Nation, reminding him of his big misjudgment. As I sat to write the letter, for some unknown reason, the statement of my guru echoed in my mind, reminding me that the very ground where His Majesty is building this great gate of civilization would be located over a sea of wastes that was mostly created by him and people like him. He should at least consult a geologist before deciding to construct such a monumental. Oh well, I was certain, he wouldn’t consider seeing one even if I would go trouble of finding a reputable geologist for him, for one of the character traits of dictators is that they never ask questions, because they know all the answers. Why? Because I heard him once, when he said, There are no intellectuals in Iran! Clearly implicating that you are looking at the only intellectual in Iran. I gave up writing the letter, but kept my eyes on the numbers, the population of Tehran and other cities.
When the population of Tehran hit the four and a half million mark in 1979, with the creation of so much economic disparity and other ills in the society, bang, a revolution took place. In the beginning, there was this spring of hope, that the self-centered people of only what is in it for me were going to be quietly put aside, and new decent, unselfish and qualified people, were going to take over, running the affairs of the country. And, I was certain, the appropriation and allocation of some fund for the issue of designing, developing and installing efficient sewer systems for Tehran and other cities would be high on the list of the new government’s priorities. “The Demon” left to make space for “The Angel” to arrive, and indeed the old man with antique ideas frozen in his head arrived in glory. But soon afterward, Tehran began sinking. The entire country began to sink into madness. As I had failed to understand the scheme of things before, for the life of me, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the notion why the revolution took such a turn—a colossal detour. I gave up hope of ever understanding the purpose of that bloody revolution. I went on living my life, working hard toward achieving “the whole catastrophe,“ trying hard to keep the land of my birth and my roots out of my mind and soul, at least, temporarily blanking it out of my consciousness, not knowing it was practically an impossible and foolish task.
One night, maybe I had had too much of the wrong food, I dreamed, once again, about my country sinking into a cesspool. I woke up and sat on my bed, sweating and bewildered. Suddenly, I realized what was going on and why I had a recurrence of that nightmare. I had heard the news and seen the pictures before going to bed that a man called Khalkhali, honored by a nickname “The Hanging Judge,” whose face always reminded me the rear end of a fat jackass, with an official directive from the newly-self-appointed “leader”, the “Imam”, in hand, was executing “undesirables”, and even people who were under any suspicion. He was wasting no time by putting many people in front of the firing squads around the clock. A war had also broken out with Iraq. The economy of the country was in shambles. Every adolescent that could walk and could carry an automatic was the law of the land. In the darkness of my bedroom, the words of that wise man echoed in my mind again. It began to sound like a profound prediction. It dawned on me that Tehran was sinking, the entire nation was sinking in its own waste, this time much deeper, stinking waste that had piled up over many centuries, sewers that were not cleaned during or after the 1906 revolution; then another chance to clean them was missed in the early 1950s, and finally, not only did we miserably fail to clean them after February 22, 1979, we even added an insurmountable amount since. I suddenly realized the depth of my guru’s wisdom.
In many years since the revolution, except the news of countless disastrous events in Iran, I have never heard anything pleasant or hopeful from back home, especially when I learned how the aspiration of the entire nation was stolen in bright day light by the “Supreme Leader”, his few fascist followers, and a Korekhary, a jackass, named Ahmadinejad.
Am I happy and should I jump up and down with joy that by moving out of the country earlier, I wasn’t there to sink with all my countrymen? Not really! Is it easy to forget Iran, the accumulated deformities and sweet features of its ancient culture? Not exactly! For if you are born an Iranian, you will be an Iranian until you die, no matter how well you pretentiously flip-flop and make forward and backward somersaults to the tunes of other cultures or become the greatest consumer of all unnecessary “goods” the West produces, and even a fair industrialist. Oh Lord, God, Allah, or whoever else might be up there in the polluted sky of Southern California, who runs, in half-assed ways, human’s affairs down here, I have paid a high price, and have leaned the truth. And that is, by being an Iranian, by virtue of its cultural features, you have been infected by an undiscovered and unnamed virus that causes an incurable fever for life. Its venom, though painful at times, ultimately has its own sedation of extraordinary sweetness that seemingly no other culture can offer to an Iranian, who opportunely had smuggled a few exquisite features of his culture wrapped between his clothes in his luggage at the time of entry to the Unites States. In many years of suffering the pain of self-inflected homesickness, now I know the composition of this almost indescribable venom: It is a mixture of the unique Eshgh, love, exclusive Hozn, melancholy, marinated and sautéed over centuries in generous portion of Persian Erfan, mysticism.
Are we in America now standing on solid ground with no chance of ever sinking into the cesspools and sewers mostly made by these white Western European occupiers of this land, as experienced by Iran? I cannot come up with a convincing answer, even though the recent economic meltdown that is upon us is the clear sign of bankruptcy of the American version of Capitalism. Damn it! That is when one needs a guru. I wish I could be in the company of my dear guru, ask him to look at his crystal ball, and explain the unexplainable. I don’t even know if he is still alive, whether he survived the revolution or, like many other thinkers, he was wasted in Evin Prison by bunch true believers.
One night in Los Angeles, at an Iranian circumcising party, which takes place more often here than it did back home, in a hall crowded with hundreds of self-exile men and women, I was watching people making fools of themselves, drinking and smoking as if the companies that produced those products were about to go under and close their doors. Bald-headed men had their pitch-black toupees firmly placed on their heads. Formerly white-haired older men had followed suit and dyed their hair raven-black. Women wore dresses that would have put the European models to shame. There were a few brunettes; the rest were bleach-blondes. Some were sitting around gossiping, or describing how beautiful the party was and the rest were dancing their sorrows away. Well, from what I was watching, you couldn’t really call it dancing; it was simple movements of their hands around and above their heads as though they were trying to loosen or tighten the light bulls in the ceiling. I was getting angry at myself for attending a party with so many Iranians present that only an occasion of cutting a little skin off a kid’s genital can bring them together under the same roof. As I was about to rise and leave, a hand touched my shoulder from behind; it was a warm hand, like the hand of an old friend who wants to offer you something special. When I turned around, I couldn’t believe my eyes; I saw my good old guru, standing a few feet from me. Considering all the things that could have happened to him, he was a little more wrinkled, but he looked just fine. Oh, how elated I was to see him! After a few minutes of How do you dos, we moved to the bar, sat in a corner and talked, trying to fill in the wide gulf that time and events had created between us. First, I offered a lot of compliments to him for being right in his prediction about Iran sinking into its own waste. And then, I put the question to him, What is going to happen to us here in America? He responded, With all the waste made in Washington by political leaders, controlled by big corporations, militarizing the minds and souls of citizens of this highest plateau of conspicuous consumption, this wretched overindulgent society, I would not be surprised if it sinks into its own waste sooner or later. Keep in mind that American waste is entirely different from ours. Those features of American culture that promote a high level of production, an uncontrollable and piggish craving for needless consumption that neglects the solution for a just and equitable system of wealth distribution and encourages senseless violence are overwhelmingly predominant and are getting stronger. In simpler terms, the direction this society is going and the speed at which it is moving forward don’t provide much hope for the future of this country either. Then I asked him, What is the solution? He offered simple suggestions. We should all go back home to clean up the accumulated waste left by our irresponsible fathers and forefathers, which the supporters of the current regime in Iran, are perpetually protect, preserve, promote and glorify. I said, The mullahs have only one solution for people who want to clean and straighten things up; they arrest them, torture them, molest them, and sometimes do them favors, shoot them or hang them. My guru said, That’s true, but if we apply the result of the Vietnam experience to the whole thing, the problem will be resolved. I looked at him, puzzled, but he remained silent, staring into the distance, as gurus tend to do (to make you believe they are always in touch with the beyond). I was losing my patience. I interrupted whatever he was thinking and asked him, What’s the result of the Vietnam experience? He broke the silence, and explained, When Vietnamese willingness to die exceeded the desire of American government with its giant military complex to kill, the Vietnam war was over, and the Vietnamese defeated the Superpower America. I responded, politely, You are suggesting the impossible. He laughed and said, I know. Have patience with me; I’m an old man. I can’t spit out ideas like when I was a young! He coughed, jiggled his position on the chair, massaged and scratched part of his body that shouldn’t be touched in public, but remained silent. I knew some very critical idea was cooking in his mind; that is why I let him be. A few minutes later, after another spate of coughing, he cleared his throat and said, We should learn from India and Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent successful experience that liberated its people from three hundred years of British dominance. I said, These mullahs are different from those members of British government and the British people, who had experienced freedom, had tasted the sweetness of liberty, and knew the essence of democracy, and had a pinch of respect for individual freedom and justice even for others. These mullahs are bloodthirsty. They firmly believe they are the representatives of God on this God forsaken earth. They don’t have any notion of human rights, liberty and justice for all. He thought for a while, and then said, You have a point there, but still I think with collective determination and perseverance we can push them out of power. Let me suggest something else. This new generation of Iranians in Iran is keeping hope alive in my heart. When I see them, read about them, they make me feel proud, for they are highly-educated, less contaminated than their parents, pure, honest and straightforward, and they don’t generate pollution like their fathers; they don’t often look over their shoulders, regressing into the past all the time. Instead, they mostly stare into the eyes of the future, they like the challenge. With their brilliant minds, the way they express themselves, full of hope and joy, and non-violent, they are the secret solution to our problems, the competent builders of our future. God, they are beautiful, aren’t they? I have discovered that since this new generation of Iranians is growing up without the influence of some contaminating features of our ancient culture, they have seemingly rejected the old ways; they have no preconceived notions about issues. They have no crystallized ideas, opinions or a solid concrete wall in their minds and psyches that reject new ideas and change. The gate to the beautiful gardens of their minds is wide open, for the seeds of new ideas to penetrate, to blossom into a beautiful rainbow of colors of deeds and actions. Here they are—our hope for the future of Iran. Get them involved in any form and shape in constructive activities. Listen, watch, print and read the spectrum of their expressed views in any language and media about every issue there is, in your magazines, newspapers, Web sites, radios, stages, screens and galleries. I can’t help but think this generation is going to change the destiny of our country sooner or later. If there is any hope for an eventual but definite removal of this repressive government of mullahs in Iran, I think it will come from our youth and from their rightful employments of modern electronics systems of communication. Take my word for it!
After I bid him farewell that night, driving home, I regurgitated his optimistic words and repeated them aloud to myself, as much as could remember, and listened to their exhilarating echoes. I began to feel more relaxed, hopeful, and happier than I have felt for a long time. That night, for the first time in a long while, I had one the most pleasant dreams I have had in recent years. I dreamed that Iranians have installed a real democratically elected government after hundred-fifty years of bloody struggles. I have convinced my partner, and we are in the process of moving our entire company that is active in the field of solar energy back to Iran, with a project to stall endless solar cell panels all over the vast Kavir loot desert that enjoys over three-hundred-thirty days year-around sunshine, and the annual revenue of exporting solar energy has exceeded the oil revenue. Boy, what a dream!!!