“The nation’s children laughed because Ahmadinejad looked like monkey on the Cheetos packets sold in Iran. But inside they were sad, because they were ashamed. They were ashamed that he represented their nation… The Iranians are a cultured people, a people with a past.”
-Afsaneh Moqadam, Death to the Dictator
Given the sensitive insider information given in this politically charged book, it is no small wonder that Afsaneh Moqadam is a pseudonym meant to protect the identity of the writer who harrowingly described the situation in his home country, from stifled Internet connections, bugged mobile phones, riot in the streets, up to brutality in incarceration and obliteration of their right to vote for a reformist to topple the despot in authority. It reminds me of Garcia-Marquez’s Autumn of the Patriarch, but here the horrors are so real.
I could almost smell the mob when I was looking at the cover at the highest point of the green wave with their peace signs and fierce assertion of their right to fair elections:
“Mrs. Abbaspour wept silently as the doctor told her that Mohsen had been raped while he was in custody. Not once: many times. He had been terribly and repeatedly beaten. “
The entire novel heavily inspired by true events in the other side of the world was a short read. The hours whizzed by as I drank in the details up to the most flinch-worthy dregs. How I have accustomed my reading appetite to such brutalities in non-fiction, I could not fathom. I am unfamiliar with Iranian politics and ayatollahs but I am jaded enough to recognize the horrid details narrated in a way that only a psuedonym can protect.
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of Iranians go abroad, intending never to return. Most are young and many of them go on to live successful lives in the countries they settle in. The authorities are glad to see the back of them. It upsets Mohsen to think that he may become a part of this conspiracy to impoverish the country.” In this aspect of patriotism, I held such high regard from Mohsen Abbaspour, the main character in this short novel. Under the face of immeasurable and unending physical torture, I find it quite hard to physically express such ideals. I can only go as far as not go overseas during peacetime, and even that is laced with the personal interest of feeling homesick when away from my loved ones.
(Again, I made a promise in my previous post to go for some light reading. In fact, I did but it was not enough to extinguish my desire for some literary depth, and this is something I satiated myself with for weeks on end.)
The novel did not shield me from gruesome realities of the world but it somehow cast a ray of hope at the end that there is, although unbelievable to internalize, some silver lining to this super black cloud brought by political strife.
“…A ruler cannot rule unless he is righteous. Now we have a different situation. There is no one standing over us to guide us and tell us what to do. We only have the good in our hearts to guide our decisions. We are alone, but we are free.“