Are You the Same One Million Signatures Campaign?
By: Nazli Farokhi
Tuesday 16 September 2008
Translation by: Mehdi
I got in the back seat of the Taxi. There was a young man who got on before me. He was talking loudly on the phone….”Yes dear Hamid. These medications have affected my hearing and eyes. Sounds are louder and everything is brighter. Note all the changes I tell you. Take care and good bye.”
After a while a girl got into the Taxi and sat on my other side and we drove off.
I immediately took out two notepads from my bag and gave it to both of the passengers. The girl thanked me and started reading it. The young man also shook his head in appreciation. A little later he asked: ”Oh, are you the same one million signatures campaign?”
”Your friends were collecting signatures at a seminar. I did not sign” he said. He continued: “and I still wont sign. So don’t bother yourself!”
He explained that: “I used to collect signatures in support of the Campaign’s petition, but no more!”
"Why is it that?” I asked.
After taking a deep breath he said:” I was arrested for collecting signatures.”
Amazed, I asked “really? So, why wasn’t there any news on your arrest? You should have informed your friends at the campaign to get their support.”
"It wasn’t just in relation to the Campaign. When I was arrested, besides being involved in collection of signatures for the Campaign, I was also involved in the student movement as a student activist. They detained me at Evin Prison for three weeks.” He explained.
The other young man sitting next me started reading the booklet, all the while making sarcastic remarks.
“Divorce! So what? Polygamy! You mean that women should have 4 husbands as well! Blood Money!” you mean you want to kill the husband and not pay compensation for his life?" He kept on going. Finally when finished he turned to me and said: “you know you can’t fight the divine laws of nature.”
I looked at him with my eyes wide open, hoping that from my expression he would understand that I did not want to respond to his comments. But, he had his arms pointing up in the air as if miming a question. I finally decided that I had to respond, so I said: ”I recommend that your read a little bit more so that if you do offer criticism they are more logical. If you would like, I can even recommend some books to you.”
He said nothing and continued going through the notebook. After a few minutes, the nagging boy next me started talking on the phone again: “Hi dear Hamid. Do you remember in the conference in June someone gave us a booklet about women? Yes the one I did not sign. And I had thought that these medications would impact my judgment, but they haven’t. I am still strong on my word. I want you to note this in your research paper. OK dear. Tell Ali also. Bye.”
He was talking so loudly that no one else in the Taxi could carryon a conversation.
When the phone conversation was over, the young man sitting in the front seat said: "Yes. Evin is a very hard place. What you hear in the media is only one tenth of it.”
Again the guy next to me said: ”yes Evin is a very tough place and you were there for only three weeks.”
I asked: ”then you were at Evin as well?”
He nodded his head saying no!
After arriving at my destination, I started exiting the Taxi to rush to my class. I was very late. The young man sitting in the front asked: “Are you a student?” Again the discussion began and I decided to forget about my class and we started talking. As soon as we began walking, I noticed a green car that belonged to the morality police—charged with arresting women for lack of ’appropriate’ observance of hejab or the Islamic covering. I turned the other way and noticed another one. ”Well, they’re going to arrest me probably!!"
My head scarf was very thin. "Don’t worry, let’s take the back streets, I know the way. It will be very bad if they arrest you with those booklets in your bag," said the young man.
Finally, we managed to distance ourselves from the morality police and the young man turned to me to say goodbye. ”It’s a crime to be a woman in this country. I commend you. Give my regards to your friends.”
After we parted, I remembered I should have invited him to the Men’s Committee of the Campaign. I started looking for him, but he was no where in sight.