'Below are excerpts of a letter written by journalist Marzieh Rasouli, to Bahareh Hedayat, imprisoned Iranian student and women's rights activist. Marzieh and Bahareh were in Evin prison together for a short while. Marzieh has been released since, but on December 30, 2014, Bahareh Hedayat will have served a full 5 years of her 10 year prison sentence. Our hearts and thoughts are with her and her husband Amin, as we witness yet another year of her life spent behind bars, simply because she stood up for human rights. This injustice is unfathomable indeed.'
Letter to Bahareh, from Marzieh Rasouli, a journalist who has recently been released from prison
Excerpts - translated by Sussan Tahmasebi
On Sundays, visitation days, I would always ask Raheleh if any friends had sent me a message. She would say no, but so and so wrote something for you, in some publication. I know that I wasn't alone in these feelings. Maryam, too, was heartbroken. Her friend had married and had a wedding celebration. Maryam would ask in disbelief, “she didn’t send me an invitation? Why didn’t she at least send a message? Just because I can’t go, doesn't mean that she shouldn’t invite me?”
How was it for you? Do you even still think about these things after five years in prison? Perhaps these preoccupations are normal at the beginning. The beginning when your body is in prison, but your mind is focused on the outside. It roams from house to house, from one street to the next, and from person to person. In the beginning a person wanders and feels displaced. It takes time for the mind and body to catch up with one another and to finally find peace. My destiny was such that I did not move beyond the beginning. But maybe if I had stayed longer, that unknown part of my being, which was always in waiting, would eventually stop working, and I would forget all these preoccupations. The process of getting accustomed, like a kind mother who does not want her child to face any difficulties in life, would have eventually taken hold of me, rocking me to sleep, to a state of forgetfulness.
I don’t know if you have come to terms with these things, or if they are even issues which concern you? I wish I could speak to you about all of this. Not in a letter, rather speak to you face to face, just like we used to talk in prison. We would sit down below, and engage in discussion, so engrossed that all on-lookers, would think we were having a private and intense conversation. They would ask permission before approaching us. “Should I come down? I am not disturbing you?” they would ask.
Some days, I think about your release and think of how disappointed and how strange you will feel on the outside. You will walk on the streets and no one will know your secret. As if it never happened. As if you hadn’t been absent. As if you had not missed your whole life, for all these years. Immediately upon release you will become just like all the faceless people waiting at the intersection for the red light to turn green. People will shove you as you try to ride the metro, so that they can make room for themselves. And all those things that you had not dealt with or experienced for years, which you may have even forgotten about, will come rushing at you. They will not wait for you. They won’t wait; not even a minute! And for everyday events you will be no different, than others.
During such contemplation, people suggest that it may be better to first hope for your release, after which we can worry about what will happen to you next. “Bahareh should be released, once that happens, who cares if she ends up being like the rest of us,” They say. I wonder, how long will it take, for you to become one of us?
I want to publish this letter in my weblog. This way I will have spoken with you there as well. Writing about you in my blog, will allow me to tell the few worthwhile people, who may read it, about you. I want to tell them that you are not just a brave prisoner whose pictures they have seen or whose story they may have read in various accounts or in statements. I want to tell them that you are a real person. The best in fact.Marzieh Rasouli's weblog