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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


June 29, 2000

Essense of agony

While I enjoy reading most of Mr. Hosseini's articles, I was especially touched by his shortest piece, "The truth sets you free." It encapsulates the essence of the "agony" that pervades the lives of so many of us in diaspora, and perhaps most importantly, hints at the hope of coming to terms with our recent past, and the harrowing prejudice we have been subject to, while still celebrating our rich idenitites.

Mr. Hosseini begins by artfully sketching the excrutiating pain of being inwardly aware of our rich culture and past, yet having to mask it on the outside for fear of prejudicial retaliation. Shortly later, he expounds his moral, that sometimes it pays to proudly display one's true, inner identity even at the risk of humiliation. While, a cynic could argue that Mr. Hosseini was lucky that his desert saviour harbored a prejudice only against Pakistanis, as opposed to Iranians, that is not the real point.

The point is that we have no reason to be ashamed of our culture, our ethnicity, our history. Every region has its ups and downs. Infact, we have a lot to be proud of. There come a time when we cannot take it anymore and we just have to break free from our false identities, irrespective of the cost, for freedom is priceless and worth achieving at any cost. And Mr. Hosseini has shown us how to fly, however difficult it may be.

I think i understand the relief, the exhiliration, and deep sense of pride that permeated every pore of Mr. Hosseini's being when he answered, "I am Iranian" to the question "Who are you?". I too have finally broken free (last year). The feeling of exerting my identity, of excitedly learning about it like an enthusiastic school-boy, seems to cleanse me from inside, and I can feel a new skin, and an old self, growing back on.

And to all those "ommols" who pass generalized judgments on us with their half-baked knowledge of us and our culture I no longer bother to stoop down to reply to them. After all I might as well practice the arduous task of living up to the polite culture that Iran is apparently so famous for.

Bijan Pingili


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