“The Minutest Opening”
Earlier this summer, I contacted an Iranian citizen who agreed to participate in this blog. This week, I was told the interview was off.
I cannot give you a name. Or gender. I cannot tell you where this person lives or what they do with their days. The reason is safety.
Behind the apology and polite words I sensed the sender’s anxiety and frustration. Naturally, I am disappointed the interview did not materialize. Most of all, I’m saddened to be reminded that there are places in the world where simply conversing with someone outside your culture is dangerous.
I wanted to learn about the culture of Iran, so steeped in history. I wanted to hear — from a native — the intricacies of that legacy. I wanted to discover what it is like to shop for spices in an outdoor market, sit down at a traditional Iranian family dinner, and walk in the snowy mountains surrounding the capital. I wanted to reach beyond the news reports of oppression and terror and hear about the dreams, hopes, and worries of an average Iranian citizen.
When I was in the seventh grade, a classmate – the daughter of a diplomat, I believe — sat down next to me in my homeroom. She introduced herself. I don’t remember her name, but I do remember how curious I was when she said, “I’m Persian.” She said it proudly, the word sounding exotic and rich. Mysterious.
For now, Iran will remain mysterious to me. Maybe someday that will change.
Still, I am grateful for the brief exchange I had with my Iranian contact. There was honesty in the voice that cannot be shared on this blog. I know that voice wanted to speak to me and teach me about life in Iran.
There are always books, of course, to help me better understand this troubled, fascinating culture. One of my favorites is “Reading Lolita in Tehran.” I especially love the following quote by the author, Azar Nafisi. It seems appropriate to share it here.
“It is amazing how, when all possibilities seem to be taken away from you, the minutest opening can become a great freedom.”
To my silenced Iranian friend who may read this, I wish you, your family, and everyone in Iran, peace. It is long overdue. Until you can speak for yourself, I will let the following photographs try to speak for you and show the rest of us the beauty of your country.
All photos public domain. Many thanks to the creators of the Facebook page, Iran-Beautiful Persian Land, for giving me permission to share these photos here. View others at https://www.facebook.com/infopersianland/photos_stream
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