Voices on the New Diasporas - an MIT student journal

Submission deadline for Spring 2007 issue is Feb. 15, 2007.

Copyright Notices

The works displayed on MIT's E-merging Journal are protected by copyright and other applicable laws and are made available by MIT's E-merging Journal for use by you, the individual accessing the E-merging Journal, solely for your own educational, non-commercial, non-monetary purposes provided you credit the author(s) identified on the particular work(s) and the MIT E-merging Journal for the material you use.

These works may be viewed on-line, downloaded, copied, distributed and displayed by you for your own educational, noncommercial purposes, or the URL of a document (from this server) included in another electronic document; however, the text of a work may not be published commercially (in print or electronically), edited or otherwise altered.

This is a summary of the license terms to you, the full text of which is available - Legal Notices.

Second Kooch*:
Hello Cambridge

by Orkideh Behrouzan

Kooch: A Persian word meaning moving of a bird from one habitat to another, according to seasonal changes.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Another go...

Right in the middle of all these hectic days of transition, I can't help but wonder if my life was ever meant to take a different direction than what it has taken now. As ironic as it can get, I am feeling most serene at the moment, although I have a million things to take care of. So, this is the start point of the second journey of mine, a journey of growth and self-recognition. May it be what I have in mind, or better, may it be what the plan of life is for me. At this very moment, I cannot be more grateful for all life has ever granted me, for all I have lived, for all I have learnt, and for all I am going to learn. Above all, Kooch is still going on. Tehran, Oxford, and now Cambridge. In my world, Kooch is an ever-lasting growth, an ever-going path I have taken. As much as I love and care about my beautiful homeland, I have taken off again, about to explore another spot of this world. Be it my last kooch or not, I am determined to make the best of it. So, my greetings to the beautiful city of Cambridge, to Boston, to Charles River, to MIT, to NW30, to my very first friends and my very best moments...

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Two weeks of work in a row, making new friends, feeling the classroom after so long, walking along Charles River on a chilly evening of September, reading non-stop, missing home and the family, cycling after months and starting to live a whole lot of life...

Words--to me--are like pearls. In search of precious pearls, I have explored the depth of each moment, when moments are surrounding me like an ocean. Sometimes they are so close that I can reach them. At times I need to rescue them from their shell, and at times they just slip away from my fingers. There are times though that I get lucky, when pearls come across, slide and roll over my skin, and I can't help but write.

I have learnt so far, that everything in this world can be taken away from us. In a fraction of a second, we may lose any of those things that we had for long taken for granted. When that devastating earthquake happened in Bam, I was right there. It was then when I came to believe no shelter was ever safe. When my patients succumbed to the very reality of death, I was right there by the bed, learning how death was walking hand in hand with life through every single moment. It was then when I learnt that every second could be the last one of my life, that I have to live each moment to the end, and that I have to leave no room for regret. All it takes is a fraction of a second, to lose something. Not only life, freedom and belongings, but even one's own integrity can be taken away from them, and I have lived in an insane enough world to believe that. It took me a while to realize that nothing actually belongs to us, that nothing actually is “ours”. Sometimes we are to suffer from losing things that were not really ours in the first place, but are beloved to us, and that is why we cannot afford to lose them, that is why we fear the loss all time, without actually being able to claim anything. At this very moment, when I look at the big picture, I reckon the only thing which can be mine, is my freedom to dream, is the freedom of the soul, is what I think, what I create. This is why Words are my only asset, and I cannot afford losing them. I will never forget that very day when I watched Iris, a movie based on the life of Iris Murdoch, the writer, thinker and philosopher who had lived and studied in Oxford, in my very own college, some sixty years ago, and had died while suffering from Alzheimer's Disease for long. I could see her when words started to become elusive to her, when she had to suffer and search for them when writing, and her persistent efforts were of no avail. It shook me to marrow, the movie and later the very last writings of hers. It was then when I realized what big a fear it was to me, loss of Words. For days to come, I thought about how my life had been woven into words, their consoling presence in my world and their magical power in my dreams. I realized how many children I had, that were my poems, my stories, the very creations of love and faith, just like giving birth, with a similar experience of pain and timeliness, yet with the similar nature of responsibility. I also remember that rainy December evening in Oxford, when I tried to imagine myself as for what I would be in future, in say twenty years time; And there sitting in the quad with closed eyes, did I recognize one image for sure, of a pen, and piles of paper. What I might be doing for a living, what career I will have, and where I will be working is of no importance. All I know is that, the real ecstasy of life lies in creating a momentum, in living those dreams that may sound insane, and for sure, in the very moment that all of a sudden, words conquer the territory of my mind in the middle of the night, in a bar or on a bike. They roll and roll vigorously until everywhere is covered with pearls; they urge me not only to express what I think, but also to think in the first place. The more I use them the more they come to me. At times, they look so simple, trying to hide their suffering souls. They are alive though, extremely alive.

Words--with embedded emotions they carry in heart, with the glow of reality and the shine of enthusiasm to shake the world off the dust of injustice, and with their endless capacity for unimagined meanings- have always taken over my life, over my journey. That is why I am here now, why I chose the “Third Path”*, and why I realized after all that I have to make my dreams come true. It took me a while to actually recognize my calling, to switch field and to come here to study what I love. But there came a moment, when I had no doubt, and when I packed again and left my beautiful Oxford, left those PCR machines behind, and decided I should listen to my heart. I still believe in dreams, in having them and living them. Life can be such a beautiful dream at times, a dream not lived yet. Every single moment may bring about a miracle, a dream to come true. Life is too short to be left unlived, and that is why I have taken the Third Path, the unknown. This is where you have to throw yourself into the ocean of Time, and embraced by each moment, will you find a pearl…

*The Third Path is a commonly used metaphor in Persian literature, implying the unknown, the challenging path in search of the Truth.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Fears and Seasons

Here comes the cool breeze, wiping the dust off my soul... Here comes the new season of colorful leaves, I can smell it in the air...

Again, so to remember, that in every day and every night, there might be a window to beautiful moments, one that you have not yet opened. Some people are too wrapped up in fears to feel the cool breeze, fears of unknown, fears of anything that is different. Often times though, we are scared of fear per se. . I think the worst fear ever, is the fear of fear. Fear in itself, is informing and at times helpful. But fearing such fear, could be paralyzing and destructive. I am to live a life of fears that could help me think and decide. Fears become meaningful when you overcome them, and one of these fears is the fear of unknown. But I believe now in the beauty of a world, in which all the different languages and different skins are speaking of one heart. I am glad I belong to that world, one of no borders and no fears.

I walk out of Jury’s, and this chilly night of September tells me summer is over. I am spectacularly fine, waiting for tomorrow with open arms...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Freedom is You

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy..”
John Adams

We fight for freedom; that is what they say. We seem though to search for freedom everywhere but where it is. Freedom is in your heart, in your soul. Freedom is when you sing as though no one can hear you. Freedom is when you live moments to the end. Freedom is You.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Every war a failure...

This week's historiography class is discussing war, and for that we had to watch the 10-hour documentary of Civil War. With it though, came to me all the memories of war, all the unsaid that my nation has been keeping in their diaries for a long while. Over the past two weeks, my country has again made headlines in the news, thanks to our new hardliner president and his words about Zionism and wiping Israel off the map. Only us, who have lived in that country, could know these words are only significant at a rhetorical level, we have heard them for two decades now. Sometimes it is hard to live in the US at this very moment of Iran’s history, and I cannot help but wonder where this story of ours will lead to. Let alone the political tension over the past few months with our new fundamentalist government and its prominent lack of political experience, the Diaspora is now dealing with daily news hitting our dignity on a daily basis. This nation is worn out, exhausted by never-ending endeavors over freedom and human rights. Shock after shock, it is now getting to a point of extreme instability, which is why I cannot stop thinking about our history. One of the main reasons of most of our failures--I reckon--is our poor insight into our own history. We have a tendency to repeat our many mistakes, and to get back to square zero every once in a while. War on the other hand, has merely encrypted too many scars in our collective memories, and yet no one can escape its consequences. It has been nearly two decades now since the war ceased, although the stories have not. The young generation of my country, sons of the warriors of old days, have now little faith in what their fathers fought for, nor do they conform to the ideologies of war makers. The battle we fought in 1980s could have ceased at least 5 years earlier than it did, right after the city of Khoramshahr was liberated. But it did not, and there are way too many political games behind why it did not. At the end, no one was held responsible for the death of thousands of our men and women, no one bothered to explain why we were fighting, and of course no one dared to speak out and ask why we did so. Every time and even now when I write about it, anger and frustration creeps under my skin, and I run out of words to express the pain. Watching Civil War over the past few days, I couldn't help thinking about the diminished agencies of people when wars are claimed, as well as about how soldiers turn into both labor and commodities, vastly wasted for a piece of land. There is a lot more to that piece of land though, there is also gain of freedom, independence and dignity, each a daunting task on its own. It reminds me of Weber's The Protestant Ethics & the Spirit of Capitalism, how the idea of martyrdom turned into an ethos and was politically used to send those young kids to the frontiers with keys to heaven in their pockets (yes, this is a true story, of keys to heaven distributed among teenager soldiers…), the same way that the protestant ethics was using the idea of Salvation and predestination in order to make people work hard and accept the unjust; how winning back the invaded land of Khoramshahr was not enough to put an end to the war; and how it went on for eight bloody years at the cost of thousands of lives... I am still haunted by the magnitude of the notion of Nationalism, and I am left in awe when I look at those days and see how brave the real nationalists, believers and warriors of my country were. My country's men and women fought for different things, some for their country, some for their dignity and some for the sake of martyrdom. But no matter what they fought for, they were true believers in what they did.

I always thought there was never a winner to a war. I still believe that each party is the loser, and when I look at real lives of people who have given in to battles, I am moved by how big a loss any war is about...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Snow, Time and I

Sitting in Hayden library, I try to look back and remember all the evenings I have spent in different libraries. From Tehran University and the library of the medical school with that haunting look in the eyes of the statue of Avicenna in the entrance, to the library of Shariati hospital when I had to present my patient in the morning report of the following day, to Bodleian library in Oxford and those ancient staircases, to St Peters' library with those leather-top desks, to now Hayden library at MIT. It looks like a lifetime I have spent in libraries, preparing for exams, working on projects; Or else, it rather seems to me like lifetimes of different people who I have been and have become. It has been snowing over the weekend and the campus is dressed in white. I look at Charles River through the window, and cannot help looking right into the eyes of life. Maybe it is the white and serene beauty of snow, which has made me feel like this. For some reason, I feel so grateful today, for happiness is about enjoying what you do even when you have to work hard, about feeling the love of your family even when you miss them most, and about knowing that every single moment of your life is as guaranteed as this beautiful snow, you never know until when it will be there. The hot cup of Latte in my hands reminds me how warm one is able to feel in the midst of freezing cold days.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas, Memories and the “Other” New Year

My first semester is over, and I cannot believe it went by so quickly. My final projects and papers, and above all, my first months of Cambridge life are now gone. I look back and cannot help but wonder how it all started in the first place. I now know how it feels to be where you want to be, in life I mean. I enjoy what I do, I love what I read, and I embrace what comes along. Over the course of few months, I have amazing friends from different continents, I have beautiful memories, I have gotten to know a new ‘Me’ after all. Isn't that what I came all the way for? Dreams are still there. I have plenty of them, and perhaps that is why I feel so alive.

I had the greatest time over the holidays, spending time with lovely friends, singing and drinking with Mehdi and Mehrnoush and Babak, taking long walks on foggy roads, reciting poetry and talking about our beloved homeland. I needed a break, to spend some time with myself. This is the thing about the States, about MIT. It leaves you no free time to have a tête-à-tête moment with yourself every once in a while. That is why I had to take a break, and I couldn't have gotten a better one. Now back in Cambridge, I feel I have a lot to think about, to live for. This Xmas, this new year of 2006, this vacant MIT, this tender feeling of hope, this new circle of friends and this huge pack of things to do, are what I call life. The time of New Year is always a chance to look back and to re-evaluate your life, even if it is not my new year. It is a while I am living on two calendars, on two waves, in two separate venues and two different time zones; and yet I am living both of them. This is what Diaspora is all about, and the good thing is you always have a double chance of celebrating life, celebrating your being. My New Year –the Persian New Year- starts in March, on the first day of spring, when Mother Nature celebrates its re-birth. Yet, now there is another new year’s in my life, not quite mine, but a part of it I suppose. I look back and remember last Xmas at my dear Chery Joon's place in Oxford. We took a long walk in Iffley village, we knew it was my last Xmas in Oxford, but what she and I did not know was where I would be the following Xmas. Such is life; this is when you realize life is not about knowing where you are heading, but mainly about how you live it right now...

Yannis, my best Greek friend from Oxford, is visiting for two days. He showed me last night all the photos he had on his laptop, and just like that brought Oxford to Cambridge, or else, took me to Oxford again. I felt very nostalgic to look at those photos, those faces, those Bops and those Guest nights again. It was all too familiar, except I was not there anymore. He had put lots of Greek/Turkish/Persian music on my iPod when I was leaving in June, the same day when he and other friends saw me off in Gluster Green station. I had spent all my time in Montreal in August, listening to those songs. Tragically, I lost all of them due to an error on the bloody iPod. Last night, he put them on my iPod again, and now listening to "Undercover" and a lot more, I cannot help but think of summer, of my many flights, of home, of Oxford, of BBQs and goodbyes, and of Montreal. It is such a paradoxical feeling, you know how priceless it is to have friends all over the planet, yet you keep missing them and that hurts. I wonder if it is myself who I am missing, the Me who lived those days, or it is the entire experience of Oxford. I wonder how I would feel about MIT in say five years time. Life is such a journey, and you are always left with memos.

So, just about twenty-four hours to 2006, I am traditionally looking back, and this time quickly looking ahead, wondering where my life is taking me. Grateful for whatever I have been granted so far, I keep hoping for a future full of friendships and dreams, of meaningful experiences and cherished moments. 2005 was a unique year for me, wherein my life took a drastic turn, everything I started afresh, as if I was just born. Shall I grow old doing what I am dreaming of? Who knows? All I know is that, so long as I have dreams, I should live for them...

Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Few Words for Old Days

Yanni--my loud Greek friend from Oxford--left. Yanni, the Greek Robin Hood who shoots arrows and studies AIDS. We--my Persian friends, Yanni and his Indian friends--had a great time at Caprice. It is funny that it was the first time I went dancing in Boston, the first time since I arrived. It just hit me that MIT has taken over my life! But this reminded me of BarRisa and the last night I was in Oxford, of my Goodbye night. They played that stupid Greek song we used to sing all the time -"Undercover"- and I was about to cry while dancing. They also played some Persian and Turkish music. But I was miles away I guess. I was in Oxford, dancing with the same songs in the MCR at St Peters' College. I am now stretched between MIT and Oxford. I was just thinking about it, about when I might let go of those good memories. Never I suppose. It was not about the photos that Yanni showed me, it was not about those faces that I miss, it was not even about the songs. It was about the turning point of my life in St Peters' college. It was about Me becoming. It was about my Kooch and how it changed my life. I couldn't have gotten a better place for my first flight, my first Kooch. Now, it has been almost four months that I am trying--and actually managing--to fit into the American life, trying to become again. But it is not the same. It has been great, I have no complaints. On the contrary, I am loving it. But it is nothing like what I had back then. There was something unique about that city, about the history, about those monuments watching you all the time, about those cozy cafes and old pubs, even about traditions. It was so me. I cannot be more grateful for Oxford having happened in my life. And now, Yanni left, and just like that, Oxford is gone from MIT. It is weird, I feel like going back to my photo albums tonight, I miss Shiva, and I miss a cup of mint tea at Tarbouch. Could it be because of this stupid visa situation that I feel so far away from home and from oxford? That we –Iranian students- are on single entry visas? (And god knows why, when not even one single Iranian soul has been proved to have anything to do with the 9/11 tragedy). It is like being stuck –if not prisoned; having to take a big risk every time you want to leave the United States.

Just like that, my life has taken a different direction, a great one indeed. I wouldn't change it for anything. But I now know that wherever you go, you take memos with you. My memo from oxford however, is a beautiful life that I--quite miraculously--lived in such a short time...

It might look weird, but it means a lot to be able to share stuff with people. I was just telling Yanni and Shiva how sad it is that no one at MIT knows how it feels to eat in the hall, to wear those long black gowns, to wear subfask at the time of exams, to eat at the High Table on Tuesday nights, to go to Rod Cam, and to live at St Margaret's House. No one at MIT knows George the head Porter, or Paul, the kind big porter with that big smile on his face. No one knows how stinky the TV room of the MCR is. This is why I felt so at home when Yanni visited, although I had forgotten how loud this creature is? I was just telling Shiva how I feel when I think about having all these friends all over the globe. I look at the world map, and feel safe and happy when I see I have amazing friends on each spot. Friends who know what a difference stepping in Gluster Green Station can make in your life.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year, New Resolutions?

Words are becoming elusive, just as answers are. Questions though, hanging in there, are all over me. It is the first night of January 2006, and I am wondering who is really becoming through me. There is always a blank word in every beautiful phrase that life grants you, one that you need to fill in. I wonder what I have to make of these tender moments of the first night of January 2006, when my entire life is out there, right in front of me, "Waiting for Godot" in silence and in awe...

At this very first night of 2006, I refuse to settle for anything less than what feels right. I refuse to give in to fears. I refuse to mistake living with breathing. Instead, I pray for serenity and courage--always coming together. I pray for laughter and tears that mean something. I pray for peace--in me and in the world I live in. I pray for remaining grateful. I pray for open eyes and an open heart. I pray for love, friendship, creation and truth. Above all, I pray for honesty--with myself more than ever.

Happy 2006, May it--and all the years--be what I won't regret.

Wednesday January 4, 2006

Could You Please Stop Asking Me about the Nuclear Issue of Iran?

I smile at them, but they cannot know how heart wrenching it is to read the news every morning, to witness the fall of my people, to be targeted for what we do not deserve. I wish I could write on my forehead: That government has nothing to do with my people, with our identity and who we are, with our human-ness. We are not terrorists, and how dare you call us fundamentalists? Have you ever read history? Or have you ever traveled for that matter? Please stop it, we have enough on our plates, we are worn out, we are tired, exhausted. Tired of living this anxiety 24/7. Tired of checking the news a million times a day. Tired of living two parallel lives. Tired of trying to trust the advocates of democracy. Tired of losing. Tired of uncertainty. Tired of not being able to fix things, no matter how hard we try. Tired of having fallen from a once-high state into this image that you have made of us. Tired of explaining why our president’s comments are embarrassing. Tired of fearing a war. Tired of fighting for what we once had. Tired of ignorance, tired of conflicts. We have had enough. I know you do not mean anything, that you are just confused. So, please be kind and stop asking me to explain. I am worried, anxious and yet, just as confused as you are.

A word to my country: My dearest, everything will be all right, that is what you told me when we said goodbye, right? Just be patient and strong, as you have always been… I have kept my promise, to learn and learn, to follow my heart and to try to make you proud. I have a lot to share with you when I come back. We are many, believe me, many more than you think, all worrying about you, trying to do something to help. But sometimes you should wait, and now, tell me, tell me –with that tired look and that kind smile- that everything will be just fine…

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Being Just a Woman

Attending the "Women and Public Policy Program", I am overwhelmed with moving stories of the women I met today. There we were, in one hall, women leaders (except for me) from underdeveloped countries as they call them. Today I met judges, lawyers, professors and human right activists from Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iran, Columbia and so forth. But I was most touched by Sewanee Hunt's talk, a woman of merit, a leader and a lecturer at Kennedy School of Government, and a former ambassador of the US in Austria. She was as well a mother and a woman, and what made her life story different from others, was her account of her life and her ideas. Sitting there and listening to her stories, I was thinking to myself how daunting a task it is to be a leader, a different maker. But then I thought, as demanding is to be a mother. Her stories were about a woman's life, a real one, with an early broken marriage, with post-growth compatibility issues in personal life, with a happy mature marriage at the end, with political roles and social presence, with an academic life with all its challenges, with struggles of motherhood, as well as with just being a woman. She had everything one could envy, even a day called after her name in Denver for being a prime activist of mental health movements. Yet, there were also failures of motherhood that she brilliantly talked about, moments of doubt and fear, challenges of the gendered world we are living in, and a whole bunch of "what if"s that comes along with every woman’s life. Others shared their stories too. We talked about almost everything, war, massacres, discrimination, law and order, democracy and the like. One could not help her tears at some points. But what moved me to the core was one single question I could not get out of my head when motherhood came into play. Does one really have to choose between being a somebody and a good mother? Does it really have to be the same for all women around the globe, no matter if they live in Iraq or in the US? I cannot help but wonder how the equation works really; How one could be a mother to hundreds of children by making a difference in this world, and yet how one can miss the chance to be a good mom for her one and only daughter who has suffered a lot as S. Hunt put. As much as I care for my ambitions and my to-do list, I cannot deny the very nature of this thing, this feminine being of mine, who longs for just being a woman of the earth, who is touched to the core when holding a little child in her arms, who feels the urge to love, who feels to marrow the very tender moments when she wants to be just a woman. I remember that schoolgirl who lived in me once, upset with the realization that men can have it all, upset with stereotypes of women who had to give up some dreams in order to be acknowledged as proper women, upset with those masculine rules of "But you are a woman", and yet most upset by some seemingly intellectual women who were loyally sticking to those so-called words of wisdom. The schoolgirl dreamt of being a different woman, one who would not have to give up her dreams, and yet one who was responsible for everyone, everything and everywhere, one who felt the urge to do something to fix this world, one who did not need to fight men to define her womanhood, one who would raise better men of tomorrow, and one who could do and have it all. That schoolgirl has grown up a bit now, is sitting here at my desk, thinking about the same questions as some odd ten years ago. But this time, she is not that upset, she is uncertain and her head is full of questions. But she also believes in pure motifs, in grace, in zeal and in passion. She gets upset from time to time still, in that the world is the same old world and one can still say that men have it all. But She now, refuses to give up easily. I am not to fight at all, and I hate the gesture of fighting men for women's rights. I believe women should fight their own mistakes rather than men, and I also believe that it is only through peaceful union with men that women can feel their womanhood. Women do not have to go all that far to feel good. Instead, I have learnt to embrace my womanhood, my feminine being. I refuse to accept that motherhood should be sacrificed for professions, yet I believe there must be smart ways of having it--maybe not all--but as much as possible. We have to get rid of the myth that in the West, women have it all. Yet, there is no point to be angry about this. I would rather to put that anger into action, but yet in a way that only a woman could know. There is a lot to be grateful for when you are a woman. Struggles on the other hand, are a part of the package. Who said life is supposed to be easy all the time? There must be a way, and yet I cannot help but wonder how--and at what point--it was decided that women constantly have to make a choice, between being a somebody and being a real woman of the earth...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Miracle is Us...

The seminar is still going on, and has been extremely inspiring. Today, we had a panel of Iraqi women leaders, from Ala Noori Talebani who is a Kurd activist running for the Parliament, to Meshkat, the Minister of Environment in Iraq, and to Hanna who has just addressed the UN on main security issues in Iraq. There were tons of stories of how these women have been fighting for years, most of them having spent years away from home. Now, back in Iraq, they are struggling for security, legal reform and progress. I had the opportunity of finding acquaintance with Judge Zakia Hakki, the first woman judge in Iraq who is now back to Iraq after twenty something years, being a member of the National Assembly in Iraq. She had a fascinating story of how--years ago--she and three million other Kurds had to walk to the Iranian border over about twenty days, struggling with the most difficult situations, and how they were betrayed at the end. Being in her sixties, she is full of positive energy and hope. She spoke fluent Farsi, like many other Kurds, and was an inspiration to the entire group. Followed by similar stories from Bosnia and Sudan and of wars and massacres, the meeting ended with the brilliant lecture of Jacqline Bhabha, a Lecturer in law and Human Rights in Harvard (who was also a graduate of St Anne's college in Oxford, and this made it extremely fun to talk to her:). Human rights and Women's Rights being the main themes of the talk, the session was followed by--again--more fascinating stories. I was left with a lot to think about; From issues such as torture and human traffic, to freedom of speech. I was moved by the strength of all these women. I was also thinking about my own country, wondering why we have never managed to have a collective voice, neither have we learnt how to have a dialogue among ourselves, let alone with others. There is a lot to work for, to struggle with and to learn from. We have a whole lot of historical mistakes in our collective memories, as well as a big number of failures. Yet, it seems hard to put ourselves together and start afresh. When those leaders were speaking, I was just thinking to myself how the Women of my country had had great achievements when none of the countries in the region actually acknowledged the rights of women, and yet we seem to have lost it all. We had women in the Parliament way before our neighbors did. We had Human right activists paving the way for generations to come. We even had women ministers, and women judges after all, way before many other countries. It is now the centennial of the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, when women were as important actors as men. We need to get back to that very moment when all of this began to fade before our eyes. I am not to undermine what we have achieved under the circumstances, neither am I to underestimate the Women’s movement which is quite amazing given how women were striped off agency and dependence after the 1979 revolution. I am not to ignore the fact that women activists of Iran have challenged the obstacles, and how Shirin Ebadi for instance, won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2003. But the ideal me longs for more; that nation deserves more. We have to regain our faith in ourselves. And yet, with more than sixty five percent of the university students being females, we have no promising prospect for the future of our women. We are still struggling over the custody of a seven-year-old child, if not on the right to get out of the country without a husband’s permission, or to get divorced for that matter. The frozen process of reform in our legal system, reminds me of our frozen hopes. No miracle is going to happen in the morning, if that is what we are waiting for. Miracle is “Us”. We need to take action, and by action I mean--primarily--Education. We need to keep working on the public conscience and awareness, hoping that maybe one day, our daughters--and their daughters--would proudly live in a progressive society in which, honor would not be decided by their virginity, but their knowledge, attitude and actions.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Exile from Exile

Looking at the city--shining like a diamond--from the top of Prudential Tower, I am thinking to myself how small we are in the big picture. It is good to go up there once in a while, to be reminded of this smallness. And yet, each of us is a world of dilemmas and questions, sharing our uniqueness, and there is nothing small to it. But now, sitting here at my desk--looking at this big photo of an annual ball in Oxford on the wall, and thinking about the concept of Diaspora-- I cannot help but wonder where it all started, this concept of being exiled from exile, as Darwish put it. Is that so really, that the line of this flight--this Kooch--is a never-ending one? That is will keep going until the bird is worn out, or else, until she "becomes"? And yet, becoming is a never-ending process itself. I wonder, although something is telling me there must be a way to finally become out of all this, something unique, something worth waiting, and something universal. There is a lot to struggle for, and there is a lot to challenge. But isn't it the whole point of living, to have something to keep looking for? I keep recalling our Great Rumi's famous verse "Any failed effort is much better than doing nothing... For my beloved likes my restlessness, and that is all that matters..."

Displaced on and on, the Diaspora is granted a space to Become, through challenges and hardships. There is nothing easy to it, but I am thinking to myself what a unique opportunity it could be, should one live it consciously. The more I think, the more I realize that my home is not defined by those torturous lines on the World Map; rather, my home is my culture, is every culture, or else, it is the culture that I will create along the way. My home lives in me, wherever I go. This way, I belong to everywhere, and this by no means threats my authentic Iranian-ness. My identity rejects borders, the same way it embraces an ever-lasting love and concern for my homeland. How can I ever exclude human beings who do not speak my language or who do not know why my new year starts in March? In every language, in every culture and in every land, lies a space for a new “me” to become. Why should I ignore such an enriching moment? And above all, this is the only way I can love my own culture in a realistic way, critiquing who I am, and creating who I want to be.

Tonight, it just hit me that not only am I am displaced from another displacement, but also that I will keep being displaced over and over, and there will be nothing physical to this. It will keep happening in my mind, even if I never fly again.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Where Is The Line Between Feeling and Knowing?

Sometimes you just like to fool yourself,
No one else would know how much joy can lie
In this very foolishness.

Sometimes insanity is all,
When you feel the touch of a moment,
When you catch the eyes--of a stranger
With floating words in them
You are but ecstatic
Although, all you do is smile

No one would know, but the mother earth
Alas, these are only moments,
And you keep wondering
Why they cannot last,

Then--much to your dismay
You need to have the wisdom,
Not to let the foolishness take over,
And you need to know how to put yourself together,
And let the moment be just past

But what a pity it is
That, Only can you "sing with all the voices of the mountain"*
And "paint with all the colors of the moon"*,
Never, but in those very moments of insanity,
And this, you will realize very soon...

* Reference: "Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind…”

Song "Colors Of The Wind" --Vanessa Williams

© 2005 MIT E-merging Journal