Excerpts of a letter by Maryam Akbari Monfared
This is the seventh year that I’m not with her. She was 3.5 when we were separated.
I really wanted to be by her side when she is having an operation and when she is recovering.
That’s why I asked to be granted a leave, but they did not approve of it.
Earlier, in 2011, when she wanted to start the first grade, I asked to be by her side on the first day of school, but they did not accept that either. And now, after all these years, and at this time, when Sara is supposed to undergo a surgery, they have turned down my request to have a leave.
Of course, I’m ashamed. I feel ashamed because my dear sisters and brothers have left behind their loved ones, to free their enchained nation and to realize an exalted cause in which they believe.
They have left their children and have not seen any of the beautiful moments of their growth. And so many of them died before even seeing their beautiful children. And now I am thinking of being by Sara’s side.
I am not writing this because I missed Sara, because Sara has her father, Hassan, and her sisters, Pegah and Zahra, who have been like a mother to her.
I am writing this to draw just a small picture of the oppression we experience…
As my mind was taking me away with these thoughts, I suddenly remembered the memories of summer 1988.
I will never forget that hot, gloomy evening in August 1988, when the call to evening prayers could be heard from the mosque of Hashemabad neighborhood.
Tired of playing, Mahnaz and I went home, as usual. But we saw my mother weeping. It was so strange for us, because we had never seen my mother like that. She was always happy and smiled all the time.
As she sobbed and tears rolled down her cheeks, she told us why she was so upset.
Yes, this time it was my sister, Roghieh’s turn to be executed. And the only name, my mother kept repeating was Roghieh. “Dear Roghieh! Oh, dear! What shall I do with your Mahnaz? What shall I tell her?”
After an hour, I learned that my brother, Abdi, had also been executed in that summer of 1988. My parents had been informed of the executions of Roghieh and Abdi at the same time, in the visiting hall of the prison.
Before them, my other brother, Alireza had been executed in September 1981, and then, the other brother, Gholamreza in November 1985.
But Roghieh’s death was more difficult for my mother that the deaths of her three sons, since Roghieh had a small daughter. Mahnaz was only three years old when Roghieh was arrested. Almost the same age as my own Sara. When I think of Roghieh, I think of what she was thinking of Mahnaz, when she said no to the oppressors.
And now here I am, Roghieh’s sister, worrying about my daughter’s operation.
Occasionally, when I’m really upset, I whisper to God, what could ever stop a mother from loving her child. There is no power in the world that could challenge a mother’s love. This shows that the world with all its glory is too small compared to a mother’s love for her child.
Today, more than any other time in my life, I am filled with pain, and with love. And I feel stronger than ever that I have made the right choice, and I have done so, with all my honesty.
And I do believe and I have faith that justice is much stronger than a mother’s love for her child…
There are moments when life loses its meaning, leaving it to us to give it a meaning with our deeds.
Accidents do not make us hopeful or disappointed. It is how we look at the events surrounding us and the way we look at things that makes us happy or disappointed.
So, when I look at it this way, the most bitter and most painful of events seem inspiring and energizing to me. I can gain power from my weaknesses and I can gain calm from the depths of distress. As if you carve out a soft statue from a big, rough rock; a soft statue of steadfastness and hope for future.
And I believe it is the duty of every freedom-loving human being to recognize the savagery of his/her time and stand up to it.
Yes, autumn leaves fall down to your feet, but a firm and resistant tree stands tall. Of course, leaves are an unforgettable part of the meaning of a tree…
Love does not fit in the cage of words, unless you have felt the suffering of captivity.
To climb to the highest peaks, there is always a large group of people to start with to leave a small group to reach the apex in the end. The large group gives all its energy to the small group so that it could feel the moment of conquering the peak.
The important thing is the resolve and the faith of the climbers…
Because of all the complications in my life, I have had to walk along this lonely and narrow path of separation a thousand times on my own, without my body even touching the walls of this alley. Sometimes, I even had to run. I hope ran well.
What long years and what days and seconds we spent. And you, my dear Sara, in these years and days and moments, you have been full of strength and patience.
Your strength gives me power to stand up to the cruelties, like a thunder roaring in the sky, giving life the meaning of endurance and resistance.
And yes, this is the road, and this the price for it and the savior is on her way.
Maryam Akbari Monfared