Nobody thanked me

A little scene from my second novel in progress


Nobody thanked me
by Azarin Sadegh

Nothing moved.

I was going to be late, I thought, looking at the smoke rising above the crash scene, only a couple of hundred meters ahead.

I hated Tehran and its endless morning jams and its arrogance toward anything that wasn’t yet infested with its indecency. I despised its vastness, its shine and poverty, its marbled mansions and cardboard houses, its lined trees and messy roads, its high towers and those doormen who waited for the tenants to show up so they could bend their backs low, to crawl on the ground fishing for some dishonoring coins. I couldn’t stand its people and their snobbish walks and their patronizing attitude. Their laughs, their gestures, and how they couldn’t mask their hate when we drove by them in our green jeep, and how they all held the same look at me, the look of disgust and dread, like I was a leprous monster.

The car behind me kept honking as if it was on fire. I looked back at its young driver and his shaved face. Voila another soossool, another spoiled brat driving his dad’s Mercedes. I rolled down the window and cursed his mother and sister and his whole family, but to shut his mouth, and to stop his white chubby fingers pressing the car horn for good, I had to wave my Basij Special Unit card at him, so I could relax a bit while being late to my meeting with my future boss.

A few drivers left their cars out of curiosity and joined the pedestrians gathered on the sidewalk, watching the victims of the car crash, pretending to be compassionate, calling out for water or clean sheet. The sound of the ambulance and the sight of the huge tow truck coming from the opposite side, followed by a police car and the city workers’ green minibus, stopped all the honking. The road was going to be cleared up soon. The injured were going to be carried to a hospital, and the dead were going to be washed in a morgue. The woman driver in front of me left her car, a cigarette on her red lips, leafing through her book as if she was stuck on the Champs Elysee. The silence fell around me, as all the men forgot to be merciful or god-fearing, their eyes glued on the book-reading whore with gray teeth.

I turned on the radio, and dreamed of beating up Tehran’s anti-god semi-intellectuals, smart asses who wore farangi brands, who grew up in Suisse, who knew French and Italian, laughed in English, and spoke Persian with an accent. I was appalled at the sight of Tehrani girls who wore tight dresses, short pants and small scarves just to show off their bodies and their immodest bareness. They all looked the same. The same makeup, the same cut face, the same sinful glare. Like plastic dolls. Like sex toys. No wonder they didn’t suspect who I was, as long as I shaved and dressed clean and had a nice car and bought them good food, or cheap gold. But as soon as I showed them my badge, they always cried the same way with the same fakeness, and they all tried to hide their apprehension with the same fabricated remorse, the same lies, the same pettiness.

But how could I have guessed that my Zora too had turned into one of those whores.

Like this smoking sister in front of me, I thought, remembering how we had cleansed Kerman of these parasites, these rotten evil-lovers, these hell-goers. If only I hadn’t fallen in love with a ghost, or hadn’t arrested that girl who looked exactly like Mother, and like my Zora, if only I had kept my cool that one time, I wouldn’t have had to prove my sanity, I wouldn’t have had to leave my city, my home, and I wouldn’t be here, on this road, among so many losers.

I felt like choking and unbuttoned my collar. My armpits were sweaty. I was going to stink like a skunk, and opened the car door. The cold breeze wafted in, the fog over the windows dispersed, and the shape of the woman leaning against her car – right in front of my eyes - reminded me of Zora. A long shiver ran through my spine, and I spat out the bitter taste in my mouth.

When Haj Agha offered me this job, I was so excited to be able to show him my devotion and everything else. I wanted him to know that it wasn’t just a job for me. That I wasn’t like other Basijis who did it for a living, because their families were dying of hunger, or their wives needed a new chador, or their mothers had sold them for a bag of rice or two, or their fathers had raped them while teaching Koran and now they had to live with this indignity forever.

Last night, when we got to that rich neighborhood where that faggot, that rich boy, lived I couldn’t believe my eyes, finding Zora, the love of my life, standing half naked, hand in hand with that bastard. How could she do this to me? To our family’s honor? If Haj Agha wasn’t there, I could have taken her life with my own bare hands. I’d have smashed her face, broken her fingers, stabbed her neck, hung her corpse, tied her filthy body to the jeep, and I’d have dragged it on the ground, all over her damn new city, just to teach her a lesson. But my boss was watching me, so I just saved her life. “She’s my step sister,” I uttered, calling her a half sister to hide my shame. “Leave her alone. I’ll take care of her.” Haj Agha just looked at me with a blank stare without giving me advice or asking more details and I should have shown more gratitude for his discretion and understanding, but I was so stunned at finding my little sister in that brothel - afraid that she could hear me - that I remained quiet like a retard and it was her fault.

Was it God’s will or my misfortune? I’m not sure. But not only Zora didn’t hear what I said, she didn’t even recognize me. She didn’t apologize or cry or thank me when everyone else was pushed into our bus, when I covered her with my jacket, when I drove her back home, when Aunt Maryam opened the door and hugged her, avoiding my stare, and when I left without asking them for money, without letting them know who I was and how good I was to them.

No. Nobody thanked me. Nobody seemed grateful for my kindness. Nobody noticed my incredible act of mercy.


Recently by Azarin SadeghCommentsDate
Life Across The Sun
Jun 11, 2012
The Enemies Of Happiness
Oct 03, 2011
Final Blast At the Hammer
Jul 18, 2011
more from Azarin Sadegh

" I just like to understand the mind of a Basiji. "

by Rosie. on

a different angle? // (Oops, the link on the news item was redirecting to something else. Here is the direct link on youtube: //  ) You might also want to watch 'Lacombe Lucien' by Louis Malle. It is about the psychology of a young collaborator in France during World War II. (Sorry about the stupid formatting).

Azarin Sadegh

to Gunjeshk: Thank you!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear Gunjeshk,

I just read your kind comment, and wow…I don’t know what to say and how to thank you! I'm sure I'll keep reading it each time I received another rejection letter from an agent and I felt like losing my self esteem!

Thank you also for your advice! Of course, this scene is just the introduction to this creepy character… slowly, as the story enfolds, the reader will discover his complex personality and his positive traits which should give him more depth and would make him believable, and not cartoonish. 

Are you also a writer? Your English reads so smoothly and your advice reminds me of many of my Creative Writing teachers..:-) 

I will definitely look for Hooshang Asadi's book...I’d love to read his work and to know more about him. Unfortunately, since I left Iran, I've stayed away from our modern (and postmodern) literature…and I know it is just my loss.

Thanks again for your lovely words! Azarin


The monkey bassiji coward with a stick in his little soft hands

by fooladi on

should be used for taget practice in a firing range:)


Arrogance!!!! surely rude

by I Voted Ahmadinejad on

iranian opposition groups have failed to understand basiji-supportes of current goverment. On the begining, just like their master, they, opposition, underestimated that category of Iranian society, which happened to be very large, then the opposition started the game of labelling basijis as thieves-the thieves are Rafsanjani & Co who now are hanging out with old opposition!how No Fera called them "high class"?

Last year during the mess follwing the election, both Rafsanjani class and "high class" directed their campagin of character destroying and smearing personality towards basijis, the less priviliged yet not uneducated layer of the Iranian society.

This blog is nothing more but another piece of  propaganda agianst basijis and is perfectly in line with the coallation of "high class" and rafsanjani claas(should i call it mola class??) policie, which are implemented in the world of bloggs by their cronies. 

However, this specific blog goes further and insult some Iranian men's dignity and pride. 

I mnt a basiji-I wish I were- but offending a man's pride always hurts my feeling as well, specially if He happens to be Iranian.

Restraining myself from the same rude method and writting style, I wonder, if the writter found any other one in that brothel?some one more likely to be there !!!!

ram jams


Re: No Fear ...

by Harpi-Eagle on

You tell Azarin she feels like she's better than the average Basijee, of course she does, so do most normal people.  You see, all that is required to feel better than the average basijee is to have human compassion, decency, and a lack of propensity for violence.  All you have to do is Not sell your soul, not sell your country, not sell your nation and fellow "Hamvatan" and you're already there, you're already better than the average basijee thug.  By the way, the basijee show such "Bravery !!" on the streets only because at this stage of the game they know they are gambling without the jeopardy of loss, but once the game rules change, they will run like the cowards they are, we all saw it last July and even more so during Ashura.

Payandeh Iran, our Ahuraie Fatherland


Dear Azarin,

by Midwesty on

Sorry to hear about your ordeal. My Iranian-ness is dying to know more about your job situation but the 21st century etiquette is tapping on my shoulder, asking me to restrain myself.

What is your objective about writing? To write a book or to write a successful book? JK Rowling went bankrupt for her first book because of the amount of research it demaned. She had to know about the scenes, terminologies, styles and many more.

I've got the first scene for you to start with: Your book sitting on a national bookstore best seller's shelf.

Good Luck!


This is the real thing (your writing)

by gunjeshk on


Wow, you are a great, great writer! This is the real thing! I think its going to be a great story, Keep going and please let me know when you publish!

Do't be upset if I say that by itself the excert reads too grimly. I agree with Jahanshah, this by itself the passage is too much of one dimension; you capture the guy's frustration, anger, disturbance and misanthropy.

But what about his love for the girl? . . . while he may be a terrible sod, he apparently has some family . . . what does he encounter when he returns the girl to her dome? Something has to counterbalance his ugliness or he won't be believeable.   

I recently read Houshang Asadi's "Letters to My Torturer" Each chapter is addressed to his actual torturer, aka "Brother Hamid."

Despite the horrific, graphic nature of Asadi's account (which is true), he manages to write a remarkably powerful even to a certain extent, dispassionate account by refraining from stripping his idiotic torturer of his humanity.

Perhaps in your novel all that you have said in this except will be interspersed with some of the character's humanity, even though it may be squalid, unsophisticated and badly conflicted.  What does he love? What is his sorrow? I am not saying that you have to give these things equal time with his anger, his evil intentions, but something is needed to alleviate the distasteful intensity of this passage . . .

as readers we need a reason to care (even if it is just a little) about the character if we are gipng to invest time getting to know him, and tolerate his unattractive qualities. 

BTW, I don't think for a minute that you should have "experience" of a basij's life to write from his viewpoint, by now plenty of collective "experience" has gone around. You and I can get a good idea of why this man is the way he is. However he is also human, he has his loves, pain, foibles and even, maybe especially his silliness.  Asadi was able to inject quite a bit of humor into even the most horrific descriptions in his book. I recommend you read his book to see how he mananged to convey the personality of his torturer.  

I am really involved in this now.  I hope I can see more, you write incredibly well.

Azarin Sadegh

to No Fear: It's easy to feel better than an average Basiji

by Azarin Sadegh on

When I look at my surrounding, I find a simple room, and my laptop, and my messy desk. Farther, I can see my bookshelf overflowing with books. And most my friends are non-Iranian writers who are not at all into me. Actually, like me, they stay away from politics. We mostly talk about books. I don’t really follow the news…and I am a total ignorant about the Iranian political figures, etc…I’m just a writer.

 I am sorry that you feel a kind of arrogance in my writing. I’ll take note and I’ll work on it…But I have no idea why you think I’m coming from a privileged background. Are you making some assumptions about me? But you don’t know me at all!

I’ve never been among “az ma behtaran” or the upper class in my life. My father was a simple math teacher, and we had no special connection with anyone…We weren’t poor though…I never felt poor, but when I left Iran and met some friends, I realized that I had been living a modest life…but it never bothered me. I might have a good education, but my technical degree seems useless in today’s economy (I lost my job last year and I am in transition between professions) and especially for the line of work I’m aiming today! So I feel extremely under-privileged and my background doesn’t help me with my goal of becoming a novelist.

Having said that, you’re right that I feel a better person compared to an average/cliche Basiji…but it is so easy to feel better than this cliché-image of them! I’m talking about the kind of guy that everyone saw last year, when they were beating up the weak, the harmless, anyone who didn’t agree with them…and even the poor or the hungry.    

One more point: I am not writing a political satire and I’m sorry for being carried away by my usual cliché teasing! I have a terrible sense of humor and I didn’t mean to make fun of you. I just like to understand the mind of a Basiji.

My intention is not to be praised by people who think like me…but to write a good believable character and an objective novel. Someone I’ve never met in real life.


I don’t know if you are a basiji or not…and I haven’t read all your blogs/comments. But the first time I read something from you was a blog titled: “I am a supporter of Ahmadinejad…ask me anything!”


You know, this title is so confusing. With this choice, you let us think that you are talking on behalf of the Iranian government. “Ask me anything” is more arrogant than anything I’ve ever written by the way…


In this simple title, I imagined you as a bitter and angry man, holding a bat, ready to defend Ahmnadinejad to death. It gave me this impression that you don’t care at all what an average reader might feel toward you…you were painting yourself as someone beyond any morale value…by supporting a government who was killing its own people, just because they dared question its legitimacy.

This title of yours linked you, in my mind, to that cliché image I had made up from a basiji.


Well Done Azarin jan

by Monda on

Getting inside a creepy head must be a creepy but interesting experience. The character reeks of frustration and ignorance. Good job. Keep writing and don't let anyone distract you. I'll be reading the sequels.

Darius Kadivar

To the Not So Fearless Basijee ... look at your surroundings ..

by Darius Kadivar on

"look at your surroundings and realize where you live":


Only Fearful Cowards use a Rifle to make a Point in the name of intellectual discourse ...

In the meantime Care for a Bloody Mary and a Dip in the Pool ?


I'm Told it's On the House and Free of Charge with the Room Service ...



No Fear

To the Author,

by No Fear on

look at your surroundings and realize where you live. You are surrounded by exiles who hold cliche opinions about everything and everyone. Its only natural that you quack like them by living among them.

There is a certain arrogance in your writtings. A pride that you are better than a baseeji. You have descriped how a baseeji thinks based on your privileged outlook on the issue. Afterall, the baseeji is everything that you NOT. You are NOT poor, Not uneducated, Not Oghdeie, Not hungry etc etc etc . While the baseeji is a lower class religious goon who hates the upper class ( People like you ).

Ofcourse you can fantasize and write fictions as you wish and you are absolutely free to do so. But when you write a political satire, don't expect to walkaway from it gingerly by calling it a fiction. However, you will win the praise of those who think like you but you won't gain respect as a fair and objective author.

Your attempt to display fairness in your judgement by claiming you have been to pro baseeji sites and posting a link to ridicule the baseejis further more, might bring smiles and laughter from those who consider themselves " upper or higher classes" , but it sadly reflects your ignorance towards a basic principle in objectivity.

So, while you labeled me a baseeji or a baseeji supporters based on god knows what, ( just because i don't agree with the cliche definitions ), you should know that i am against violence whether its against people or baseejis or the government. If that makes me a baseej supporter, then you with your half baked satire must be a watermelon.


Azarin Sadegh

to No Fear: A little note about writing fiction

by Azarin Sadegh on

To No Fear:

I agree with you that writing about something I’ve experienced or known first-hand is much easier. But for how long should I focus and write about my own boring and ordinary current life, and past? The whole purpose of novel writing is to create a fictional world. And the challenge of creating a believable world mostly comes down to making up believable characters.

So let’s move on from my choice of subject to your next point!

This character plays a main role in this storyline. Plus, I assure you that he’d end up showing his good sides too, otherwise writing a one dimensional mean evil makes the world of the book just a cartoonish universe and it is not my intent.

Yes, I always investigate about the locations, the history, and the psychology of my characters for the sake of my novel!

But to be honest with you, I have already tried to find some pro-iri sites. But Google seems having associated the word basiji with thug, rape, murder, means that I have to skip the first 12,000 pages about the definition of basij, and then, basij women, basij pronunciation, basij jokes, the confession of former basiji, etc… before reaching a good pro-iri blog.

Of course, I didn’t give up and found a few good sites in Persian where they post nice poetry or praise each other or how they brothers basijis go hiking with sister basijis, ex:


I don’t know how to say it..but what I saw on basiji blogs were way more cliché than what I wrote. In my wildest dreams I’d have never come up with characters such as the blogger and his commentators in this blog for example:


About you being a basiji: Of course I haven’t read all your comments, blogs (actually I’ve read only a few) but they were enough for me to conclude that or you are a basiji, or have been one, or are surrounded by them, and you definitely enjoy defending them passionately…right?


But if I'm mistaken, and you're not a basiji, then would you mind asking your basiji friends to read my story, and add a little comment to help their compatriot-author-in-diaspora?   

Thanks again, Azarin

No Fear

To the Author,

by No Fear on

Why not writting about something that you have a first hand experience about? Something that doesn't rely on "others" cliche?

Or if you prefer to be an investigative author, why not read pro baseej publications on the web to findout more about them?

Iran has roughly about 5 million registered baseej forces. But you have managed to define all of them so eloquently. Bravo!

btw, what was my give away to led you think i was a baseeji?


Darius Kadivar

Great Progress Azarin Jaan

by Darius Kadivar on

Interesting portrait. Look forward to reading the book !

Warm regards,


Azarin Sadegh

to No Fear:

by Azarin Sadegh on

Thank you so much for your comment! I am beyond excited to find you here...I've never had any direct contact with a Basiji...and now you are here!

I would truly appreciate if you tell me more about the nature and the personality of an average Basiji.

Actually, this guy, one of my main protagonists, doesn't come from villages to Tehran (but from a big city in the south.) Plus, his father is a well-respected businessman in their city. But you're right about the use of cliches. He is absolutely a cliche, since by definition a cliche is everything that has already been written and told about a subject. And all I know about Basijis are the video YouTube of their worse achievements...but who knows about their best qualities or their most compassionate acts of mercy and generosity? Clearly, I don''re right! 

So please educate me! I'd be grateful to you forever!

In your opinion, considering the fact that you are a basiji yourself, what should I change to make him real? My intention is to create a real 3 dimentional character and not a shallow character that has nothing to do with your average colleague!

Thanks! Azarin

No Fear


by No Fear on

Since it displays how the author feels and think about a baseeji in Iran.

She even portrays this baseeji as a person who dreams of beating up intellectuals. Someone with sweaty armpits who likes to beat up the love of his life. etc etc etc

She wanted to creat a monster.  Then tried to explain why this monster was created, and came up with the cliche reasons that they are poor, dehaati, uneducated, oghdeie etc etc etc.

Bravo ! such raw emotions !  Such a deep and intellectual observation!  The old battle between good and evil, darkness and brightness, black and white!

There are no other explainations.... he is just pure evil.




very sharp azarin

by humanbeing on

in all senses of sharp. writing about characters we love to hate, in the first person, in character, with their predicatible features but also as individuals, with complexity, ambivalences, and layers in their voice and is a huge challenge which of course you have overcome in a stellar fashion.

this guy leaves us with a sharp nasty taste, and the reader (this one anyway) with a level of self disgust for trying to understand him too. that's the ultimate success of the writer (=you).


Red Wine


by Red Wine on

You will work on your novel in summer ? 

Azarin Sadegh

I say Thank You!!

by Azarin Sadegh on

First, I should thank JJ for his choice of title! He always comes up with the most catchy phrases..Thank you JJ! Now everyone feels they have to thank me...and I feel that I have to thank him and everyone else even more!

Second, I should thank Shazde aziz! You made my day, because what you got from this character is exactly what I meant to convey. This scene is the first scene where this character is introduced, but the reader already knows Zora, his sister. .

Third, I have to thank Nazy Kaviani for her wonderful writing projects...(You're the best, Nazy jan!) This character was formed in my head last year when she asked us to write about love...and I wrote about the Remorse of a Loving Moment. But somehow, I couldn't let go of that creepy guy....and I ended up making him one of the main characters of a longer story.

And last but not least, I thank my dear Orang! Yes, you're so right we need to accept that the evil too has a soul!

Take care, Az.

Orang Gholikhani

I say Thank you ;-)

by Orang Gholikhani on

nice beginning Azarin jan.

Even evil has a soul and we need drill down why he is where he is to solve root's problem.



Shazde Asdola Mirza

The character we love to hate

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Actually, I prefer your introduction-less introduction into the mind of this "character". Instead of buidling a history, you have built a state-of-mind, which is very clear and understandable.

The beauty of your first passage is that, you depict him by what he thinks about others and how he perceives others who see him in action. The "leprous monster" is a nice touch. Meanwhile, you keep it on the balance, by showing how he sees the vanity and "indecency" of the civil life. Sort of village meets town, east meets west and poor meets rich.

Self-rightousness comes out thorought the narrative, which is absolutely required to fully understand this "character". There are poors who envy the rich, there are villagers who want to be big-house citymen, and there are simpletons who desire to become sophisticated. But this character hides those desires under a layer of hatred and disgust. Even the existance of desire is denied by "believing" that Allah has chosen him to be rightous and hence has actually made him the "real winner". All those other glittery, moneyed and beautiful characters are the real losers.

So far, it reads very well, albeit painfully realistic. I am sure that the rest will be even greater and more readable.

Thanks Azarin jan again, and sorry for my earlier slip.


Red Wine


by Red Wine on

I was missing you and your blogs Azarin jan ... Welcome back and thank you for sharing ... Have a lovely sunday .

Azarin Sadegh

Thank you, Sam!

by Azarin Sadegh on

I am happy that you liked the writing...But I wonder if you found this piece (a half a scene from a novel that you have no clue about) clear enough? Should I add some kind of introduction for the characters?

I'm really curious to know your opinion about this narrator. JJ told me that the guy is so unpleasant that leaves a nasty taste...I'd apprecaite to know your expert opinion, Shazdeh aziz! Thanks! 

BTW, why do you thank "Azadeh"?...(Just kidding..You're not alone! Everyone makes the same mistake with my name...:-)

Thanks again, AzaRIN 

Shazde Asdola Mirza

Excellent writing, thanks dear Azarin (I love Azadeh too)

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Sorry about the mistake! Will try harder in the next comment.