Just before Nowruz, in face-to-face talks and through published materials, I searched for symbols we brag about, the flag bearers of our civilisation and culture, such as poetry, music, philosophy, and most important of all gastronomy.
The public mood and deeds were devoid of these noble notions.
In the month before our modern Nowruz ending 1399, Esfand, foodstuff prices soared and the people moaned louder than usual. How many people could afford a decent meal for the festivities?
In forty years of theocracy, what are the drivers of our philosophy in life? On the night of Chaharshanbe Suri, so much cherished, the talk is more about how many have burned themselves or were killed by adulterated fireworks and less about collective enjoyment.
Since the Islamic regime hates things outside its world of fanaticism, a few people will be arrested for various crimes of being non-Islamic.
Let’s discuss the travellers hastily leaving for holiday places amid heavy road traffic, scarce flight tickets, and the anarchy of Covid-19. As an example of season’s ritual, Tehran would be emptied of those who can afford to leave for the Caspian Sea shore to overpopulate the area, pollute, and have private parties, drinking the forbidden alcohol, use drugs and gamble, thirteen days in a row. Once the holidays are over, we will count the dead of road accidents, overdoses, and adulterated alcohol.
Hurray to our new cultural rites, our modern Nowruz.
Every year we exchange the very same sentences, we add a verse or two from a long gone poet. We do not mean to communicate a heartfelt feeling, a new idea or a personal note. The verses are space fillers. We have little to say to each other.
We proudly remembered to set the Haft-sin, and put a book of our choice as the holy one: Poems of Hafiz (if we reject the ayatollahs) or the Koran. We read about different customs according to ethnic backgrounds. All written by people with little knowledge, repeating cliché and banalities, and filled with quotes from Westerners who have visited Iran in the past centuries.
Repetitive and dull.
Where is the public happiness? Where are the expressions of collective joy? Where are the festivities that will bring us together?
I could not see traces of them. It is decades that we have been defeated, but we have still to admit it to be able to move on.
I would have loved to have seen the end of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Velayat-e Faqih regime, at least a promising idea to this effect. I would have loved to have seen the women and men jailed today, the likes of Nasrin Sotoudeh, among us for the celebrations, and physically feel them close to my heart.
I would have loved to have seen the country honouring those who have fought for betterment in Iran, but have cruelly lost their lives.
I would have loved to have seen Ali Khamenei, Ebrahim Raisi and Hassan Rouhani behind bars awaiting a fair trial.
Nowruz of year 1400 is the worst of any year since 1300. As we pretend to celebrate it, reclusive, in the privacy of our homes, we are in the company of poverty, apathy, and Covid-19. There is little to look forward to. But, I see something else in 1400: darker days than those we have experienced.
We would have loved to have shared the joys of spring and the New day, Nowruz, with the world. Before that we must learn to share it among ourselves, put feelings in it, not only social pretences.
A pessimist is an optimist with experience.
A Grim XVth century Ahead
We will embrace the new era with the shame of the Islamic Republic of Iran dictatorship on our shoulders. We have enough sycophants in the country for it to last a few more decades.
Most importantly, we will vote for an IRGC commander to be our next “elected” president in the near future rigged elections. He will find enough pillars to hang people from, or provide ammunition to execute even more.
In Iran and in the West, reviving the extinct JCPOA will occupy many minds in the months to come, though it is absurd to imagine that bringing back JCPOA or concluding a modified version of it would be a path to a better life in Iran. It would open a new era for the kleptocrats and the endless strings of corruption in the country.
As long as he lives, Ali Khamenei will issue more misogynistic orders for women, as he has already ruled that cartoon characters on Iranian TV must wear a hijab. This might be funny, but the Velayat-e Faqih has been the promoter of the phallocentric privileges (none of them amusing) that have ruined many lives in the past four decades. Khamenei will not stop bullying. Why should he?
If he dies from old age, we do have a large supply of hypocritical and despotic men to replace him as Supreme Leader and the Light of all Muslims.
In the coming decades, the lists of those deprived of their basic human rights will lengthen. If we hear about them, those sitting on the tip of the iceberg of prevailing injustice in Iran, we will sign a petition or two and the international NGOs will plead their cause. Episode after episode of shock and horror, Tehran will brush off the cases and vilify the signatories.
Too bad for the hidden part of the iceberg of injustice, the victims of our Islamic state’s violence that will go unnoticed by the public. No one will hear of them. No one will remember them.
Some of us will write or re-write to Joe Biden asking him for help. Others will reiterate their plea to the UN officials to hold a referendum on the future of our political system. Curiously, no one has as yet thought of writing to Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin, Tehran’s best friends, in helping citizens on human rights violations. One wonders why.
None of these mild actions will ever produce the results needed for shaking up our political system rooted in our frame of mind and social fabrics. They are no more effective in healing than drinking a tisane when surgery is needed.
Pleading with outsiders while refusing to have a common dialogue among ourselves has been our modus vivendi for more than we care to remember. It substantiates our impotence in confronting the enemy within, and inability to have constructive dialogues among ourselves, the people of Iran, regardless of people’s sex, ethnicity or religious beliefs.
The growing autocratic power of Velayat-e Faqih has not been based on Allah’s willing.
Allah willing is a pretext for the rulers to justify their misdemeanours. It is also a false excuse for those enslaved to the Leader to justify their apathy, lack of vision, and the absence of controlling a maelstrom of conflicting emotions, embarrassment, anger, frustration.
These lines may be labelled cheap sarcasm, tasteless irony, inappropriate satire. But, we should look at ourselves and be honest to describe what is reflected in it.
We have bred the leeches that have ruled us in the past four decades. We must find the way out of their diktats by ourselves. This needs qualities that we have not grown up with, but that we can cultivate and encourage our young generation to explore.