Forgetting monsters

Are virtual monsters comparable to real ones I read about in the news or to the real war my generation endured?


Forgetting monsters
by Azarin Sadegh

My boys love video games. They sit for hours in front of the TV set and stare at the screen while their fingers silently move the remote Control. Their minds concentrate on this virtual world filled with virtual terrifying creatures and imaginary heroes. My boys’ fights never end and they never tire of the challenges these monsters present.

I enjoy this time we spend together, each of us immersed in our own fictional world. As they play, I look through my mail or surf the web. On Sunday mornings, I read the thick newspaper, and the loud music of the boys’ game accompanies the silence of the news. I study images of death or hunger, and in silence I read about each catastrophe. I selfishly rush to turn the page--all I am looking for is something – anything - that might help me to forget the endless ongoing struggle of my boys. And yet, images of reality so seldom overshadow the devastation of the world in which my boys are trapped.  I leaf through photographs, and as I do a sense of abundant relief wraps around me. I forget the anxiety of being a parent.

I wonder about the source of this egoistic joy.

Are those virtual monsters comparable to the real monsters I read about in the news or to the real war my generation endured or to the terror my grandfather felt as he escaped the red revolution? Are my boys’ dreams comparable to the dreams and hopes my parents felt the day I left Iran for good or to my father’s solitude in death and my mother’s silence in the face of solitude? Is the homesickness I feel comparable to the sadness of those who lose their children in war?

And can I forget my own exile that isn’t an exile, because I can return if I want to, and yet, I know I will never want to go back?  Perhaps I am entitled to the pity I sometimes feel for myself, to the self-righteousness, to the sweet joy I taste in the bitterness of the news, to this feeling of being at the top, a place my father and grandfather never reached.

But is it really true? How would I know whether they felt this enjoyment or not? Who am I to declare so baldly that they never stood at this same place where I am standing?

I look at my boys playing, screaming and teasing each other, and I remember the gaze in my father’s eyes as he waved goodbye the last time I saw him, and this gaze still represents to me ultimate joy. Didn’t my father fail in his life? Wasn’t he but one teacher in an insignificant neighborhood? What justifies the drunken happiness that sparkled in that single gaze he offered me—his daughter?

Why does my own happiness feel so sober? So lonely?

Suddenly today, sitting in peace, I realized I have skipped over generations of misery to be here. In this place that offers this amazing possibility—of watching my boys transforming into heroes, fighting against harmless monsters. This place where I own the power of listening casually to their unimportant war in a made-up world. This place where whether they win or lose does not matter.  This place where I know even if the monsters kill my boys today, they will, like the Phoenix, be reborn, intact, without a scratch.  

Maybe my father was a magician or a visionary. Maybe as he waved goodbye to me he was already aware of the existence of this peaceful world where happiness is silent and sober, even simple. Maybe he imagined his daughter flying toward this egotistical space where nobody need be a hero.

I smile at my boys, knowing that moments later they will turn and wave at me with shining eyes.


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Azarin Sadegh


by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear Mehdi, Ebi, Irandokht, and Abarmard,

Thanks to all of you for lovely comments!

As much as I like to pretend living in a perfect world, I (as an Iranian-American) know well -- deep down - that it is impossible to live in a bubble, detached from what is going on in other sides of the planet. As much as I like to forget about those real monsters...

Still, this essay is all about my kids and how they're going to perceive the world. How they're going to imagine the past and how they're going to make their future with a real sense of belonging.

I just hope for them to believe truly in the countless possibilities which could let them go beyond the barriers and invisible bubbles, so they could feel the existence of this flawlessness. Not just pretending.

And as usual, there's also a lot about my father and how much I, sometimes, miss him.


PS: Thanks JJ for the nice title you chose. You always come up with the most unusual ones, and the unusual is what I have always preferred!


Thanks for sharing

by Abarmard on

It's important to know and realized that we are the lucky ones and try to be more involved to better the lives of the Iranians inside. That would make us a better people also.


well done!

by IRANdokht on

The fact that we can shut out the struggles of the world we live in and be content if we choose to, is the difference between the west and the rest of the world.

There are real monsters here too. This world is full of monsters, and heroes. There are plenty of wars to
fight: the hunger, diseases, poverty... genocidal maniacs are all over
the world and many children need food and shelter even here in the west. Some people choose to fight them here and be the voice of the homeless, the battered, the underprivileged and the discriminated.

The difference is that we can choose to be oblivient to these realities here, but if we lived anywhere else in the world, these same realities along with unavoidable wars and injustices would slap us across the face and they'd be hard to ignore.

Very well written and thought provoking Azarin jan. I enjoyed reading it since I have experienced that same quiet peace and comfort and I too appreciate the fact that my child would not be thrown into those real wars and slain by those real life monsters.


ebi amirhosseini

Dear Azarin

by ebi amirhosseini on

Same feelings here,thanks for sharing.

best wishes


I see America and the West as the hope for mankind

by Mehdi on

You are right, this is a great place. I think all of mankind looks up to the West and the "modern" countries as hope for the whole race. And I think damaging it the way Bin Ladan did, or whoever it was, is truly a sin. Not just a sin towards Americans but all of mankind.

It is true that there are certain elements who act very evil and sometimes give the West a bad name but one must differentiate between a small few and the whole. I never hesitate to let Americans know what a great job they have done overall. I wish for a day when the perception of the West in the eyes of Iranians in Iran will not be so badly perverted by interest groups or just pure ignorance.