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Shahin & Sepehr

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Good guys, bad guys

By Saba Ghadrboland
May 5, 1999
The Iranian

My daughter is six-years old today. I sat her on my lap and sang happy birthday to her. She scrunched up her little face and thought for a moment. Then she proceeded to ask, "Mommy, are They bad?" I sighed. What could I say? Of course, I said, "every country has its good guys and bad guys." But my heavy heart could not bring itself to believe that last year's incident was a coincidence, or the act of some higher power.

When my daughter was four-and-a-half, she waited impatiently for my pregnancy to end. Every day, for six months, since the day I told her she would have siblings, to the I went into labor, she endlessly asked questions about what the new babies would be like and what her role would be in their lives.

I had a difficult pregnancy. I had been unable to work for more than a year; since the barriers were put up. I was no longer allowed to go into town where my job was and thus lost it. Even if I had been working, I probably would not have been able to continue after the fourth month of my pregnancy. I was exceptionally ill and spent most of my time at home.

I know it was hard on my husband. He too was not allowed to go into town for work. He had to feed a wife pregnant with twins, our daughter, and himself. Life was not easy, but everyone hoped that things would get better. Pregnancy and babies have this effect on people; we see a little light at the end of the tunnel of our despair.

We did our best; my daughter refused to take more than one meal a day so that the twins could grow to be healthy. The poor thing was so thin and pale and small that she wore the same clothes she had since she was three.

One day, my husband telephoned the bureau of public health to find out about my delivery. Fortunately, we would be allowed to cross the barriers to go to the hospital. We rejoiced.

One month before my scheduled delivery, my contractions began. Having no car, my husband called an ambulance. I left my daughter with my sister and told her not to worry; probably, a few weeks after delivery, the twins could come home to be with us. She squeezed my hand and wished me luck.

By the time we got to the barrier, I was in need of emergency care. The ambulance sirens went on and the driver explained to the guards that we needed to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. However, they decided that because we did not have city license plates that named us as one of Them, we would have to wait in the same line as the rest. Despite the emergency, we were not considered important enough to escape inquisition.

Two-and-a-half hours later, the ambulance was allowed through. I was taken to the hospital. My first baby was born waiting in line; a still birth. Upon arrival at the hospital, a five-minute drive from the barrier, a small cry, then a gasp for air, and then silence from my second twin.

I was kept in the hospital for two weeks. I wasn't allowed to attend the funeral of my children; I was too weak. My husband borrowed a car to drive me home. On the way, the graffiti on the wall read "It's just easier to kill them." My daughter had apparently been instructed not to discuss the subject with me - until today. She couldn't help herself.

"Mommy, are They bad?"

My daughter is six-years old today.

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