Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I have a friend at the YMCA where I swim several times a week. She’s a 79-year old Persian lady who swims laps bedside me most days. It was a landmark for me about a year ago when I could match her lap-for-lap.

Conversation is usually sparse as her English is limited and my Farsi is non-existent. Mostly she practices the niceties like, “Have a good weekend.”

Yesterday, though, she had a lot to say and struggled to tell me. “Very, very bad in Iran”, she kept saying. She told me about her family there, the protests... but most of all she wanted me to know about Neda.

She wanted me to say the name–– she helped me pronounce it. “Just a girl. They killed her. Nothing. For nothing.” She wanted me to remember.

She made me say it again. Neda. Neda.

I promise. I won’t forget.


Anonymous said...

My dad used to periodically work in Iran for his job, when the Shah was in power. When the Shah was toppled, so many people that my Dad had worked with "dissappeared". No one knows what happened to them, but at least we know what happened to Neda. I suspect they all ended up in the same condition.

Funny how the "divine leader" who has a direct phone line to the almighty can't control something as mundane as vote-rigging. Isn't it odd that those who seem to claim the most power over populations really seem to be the most powerless, when people start thinking and acting on their OWN brainpower?

For a female populace in a middle eastern country to act independantly in a public event, is nothing short of revolutionary. Women in those regions are considered disposable, and minimally, if ever, in regards to any relationship to daily life. Many refer to themselves as Persians, to cast themselves as seperate from the rest of the region. Persia pre-dates the muslim faith as well.


Pica said...

Thank you for this post. Thank you.

LunaSea said...

When I heard about Neda on NPR, I sat in my car and cried. Please tell your swimming friend that I, for one, certainly won't be forgetting her any time soon.

Gina said...

You can tell your Persian friend the same for me , as well - I've a friend here --Manza -- an older female artist from Iran who runs a gallery here - a fierce and and gentle spirit, both strong and generous and intuitive. I've been so wrapped up in the news there, both the heartbreak and the strength of the women, in particular, that I'd forgotten that Manza was suppose to travel there this summer to visit a playwriting friend of hers (also female) and may very well be there herself right now. Thank you for reminding me to call her. I'm hoping she stayed here. If not, I know she's in the thick of things right now, fighting for what's right, and managing to honk her car horn and scream from the rooftops in protest, as so many are right now in their attempts to still express their anger while staying out of harms way. Keep her in your thoughts, too. She's a special person.

I've more to say on the specific amazing character of the Persian female - what amazing women they are, even before all of this! After speaking for a while with Marjane Satrapi (of Persepolis fame)and coming to know Manza so intimately, in addition to hearing the stories my Iranian friend Kevin tells of his own family and one of my student's father stories of his wife giving birth to their while the bombs fell during the Iran/Iraq war, I've a special place in my heart for them. Do tell your friend we are all with her and her country; however you manage to do it, she will understand.

We stand with them. The young, like Neda, and those who have seen conflict upon conflict and have not let their voice be stilled. would that we could all have such courage.

Anonymous said...

Not just a girl : )
-Jen of MLM

Drew said...

I know it is a cliche, but, honestly, having seen the video on CNN world news, I am having a really hard time gettting the image of her eyes out of my mind.

I'm in Denmark, so everyone watching decided it was time for some more cartoons.


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