In memory of Amir: In Prison, but Freer than Most of Us
Monday 6 August 2007
By: Azad Roshani
Translated by: SZ
-Hello madam. May I have a few minutes of your time?
"Once again, one of those impudent men who come on to women and who start disturbing you as soon as you sit on a park bench to relax. These types of problems are symptoms of being a woman in a culturally backwards country that makes you feel the effects of male supremacy every moment of your life." These thoughts crossed her mind in less than a few seconds while she stared chillingly at the intrusive young man. She replied with an authoritative tone: "Go ahead."
The young man put his hand in his shirt pocket and took out a ballpoint pen. "How awful! You couldn’t tell by his looks that he would be so……. He must be the type who pretends to be classy, and there are more of them around than the genuinely classy. I wish that at least he had a little more class than a man who merely pushes his phone number on women." At times like this, by an instantaneous reflex in her mind, she would feel bad about herself. Does this mean that she outwardly appears to be that low class? Even with her decent appearance, and looks that clearly showed that she was at least eight to ten years past her teens? After this sudden onset of the initial queasy feelings, visualizing her outward appearance and comparing it to that of the others, she would conclude that, no, it can’t be that bad. But then, with a new analysis, she would feel troubled in a different way: "Why should any low life, just because he is a man, feel justified to come on to a woman regardless of her character, age or social status?" At this point the young man pulled out a form from the bag he was carrying on his shoulder and handed her the form and the ballpoint pen.
-Have you seen this form?
Incredulous and perplexed, she took the form. "What is this?"
-A petition for equal rights for women and men.
She started to read. She got more and more of a happy look on her face as she read on. After a short while, she asked: "Do I have to sign this?"
-There is no obligation. After you’ve read it to the end, if you ultimately agree, then you can sign. By the way, there is also this pamphlet.
When she was done reading the form, she picked up the pamphlet and started turning the pages in a casual manner. Then she commented: "Reading this pamphlet will take a long time."
-You can just sign the petition. And the pamphlet is yours to keep so that you can read it when you have time.
"I have a question for you. Considering that you are a man, why are you collecting signatures for this cause?"
-Well, it’s very simple; because I agree with it.
She did not believe in her question to begin with. She was always curious how men dealt with the distorted interrelationship between the sexes. However, she did ask the question because she had a feeling that the answer would please her. And it did. Once and forever, her concept of a monolithic mass population called men, which up to that point had stood like an impenetrable dam of tyranny before her and others of her gender, was shattered.
She started filling out the form attentively. At this moment, she noticed a park police wearing a ridiculous looking cap running towards them. The young man had noticed this, too. With a sudden movement, he put his hand in his pocket and took out an object the size and shape of a chick pea.
-Madam, I beg you to please tell the policeman that I was trying to sell you drugs. And please put the form in your purse and hide it.
The young man who by this time had reached the conclusion that he would be unable to convince the woman by explaining before the policeman got there, in a desperate last ditch effort said: "At least tell them that I was disturbing you."
The policeman was nearly there by now. The last thing that she heard was what the young man murmured: "Next time I should take a switchblade with me ….."