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Time to pack?
Autumn of 1978 all over again

By Shahla Samii
February 25, 2002
The Iranian

I will never forget when unrest and instability surfaced in Tehran oh so many years ago, it now seems. My husband and I were looking to rent a home in Shemiran. The reason for that was we lived in a very beautiful old home, which had been built over 125 years ago, in the vicinity of Jaleh Avenue, behind the old Majlis, where the very first street riots had begun in September of that year , on "Black Friday".

At the time, my husband and children and I were in Europe, where my husband was attending a World Health Organization conference in Geneva. Many of our friends and family called us from Iran and told us not to come back.

We did go back, but decided, since the children's schools were uptown, to temporarily live at my parents' home in Niavaran, until we found a place to rent. We had planned to move in the near future anyway, because although our home was one of the most beautiful and historic homes, it proved not to be comfortable as a family residence. It was more of a showcase; spacious for entertaining, but not for one's private life.

So I started asking around for potential rental homes and also worked with a real estate agent in the Darrus and Niavaran areas. To my amazement I was taken to home after home completely bare of furnishings and residents. They were up for rent or sale. Some of these homes and gardens looked familiar, and I realized they were homes I had visited -- belonging to people we knew. Not one of them belonged to government officials.

One day I went to visit a friend. As I entered the home, I saw carpets rolled up in a foyer. I asked her what she was doing. She told me that at times she changes carpets around. I believed her, but then saw these same carpets years later in her home in Europe.

Another time, at a gathering of acquaintances, one lady was going on about how great it was that people were demonstrating, and that this was the new Spring season with flowering blossoms of revolution for the people of Iran. A week later, the same lady had packed up half her life and sent it to Europe, to be followed by herself.

Anyway, for the school holiday of our children, my husband, our two children and I went to visit my parents in Germany. We traveled with the usual luggage one takes on a holiday. It was December 1978. We never went back and lost everything: pictures, mementos, home with all that we had lovingly collected or had inherited from our families, and everything else like thousands of our compatriots. But we were thankful to be alive and healthy.

Of course, in hindsight, these people were wiser than anyone would have liked them to be, since they own what is rightfully theirs to this day, or have been able to sell things to survive difficult lives abroad, and we who did not , have lost everything to the plundering regime that followed shortly after our country fell into the hands of Khomeini and his gang.

Not only did we lose material wealth and the lives of countless friends, but in addition the brainpower of capable and hard working professionals of that time and the generations that would follow.

Now these days I wonder -- are "they plundering" our country as "some seemed" to have done in the autumn of 1978? Time is running out for the mullahs and their backers. I believe that they have and are continuing to get their wealth and belongings out ... But we can be thankful that their departure will be no loss to the people and country of Iran.

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