Where we belong


Where we belong
by Jahanshah Javid

When PhD student Sanaz Raji asked me to be on a panel with her and filmmaker Golkou Parhizgar at the Leeds International Festival, I hesitated. We were supposed to discuss Golkou's documentary "Round-Trip" after a screening.  Discuss what exactly, I wondered. Christ! Not another film about Iranians and our crisis of identity. How many times are we going to explore this topic? So tired of it already.

That was before I watched "Round-Trip" in my hotel room a couple of hours before it was shown to the public.

The opening line -- "I was born in Evin political prison" -- immediately killed my indifferent, dismissive mood. I was alert. I cared. I was sympathetic.  Sympathy quickly gets old though. You need substance to sustain it and gain real respect. In the end, that's what I felt -- great respect for what Golkou pulled off.

"Round-Trip" is a personal journey to find out where you belong. In Iran? Abroad somewhere? Golkou does not find the answer. The people she interviews often express how hard and stifling it is to live and grow in Iran. But their thoughts and solutions are not as predictable as they may seem.

Who would want to live in Iran if they could go elsewhere and pursue dreams in free societies? Millions have. Millions and millions dream about it. But it's not as easy as it sounds.

I want MY people to enjoy the fruits of my labor, NOT my neighbors, says a female singer in Tehran interviewed in "Round-Trip". Yet she can't be herself in her own country; she can't be who she wants to become. She has no choice but to give herself and her talent to a foreign land.

Nobody WANTS to pack up and go. And some never do, even when they can. One musician explained that he wants to stay and do the best he can, despite all the restrictions: They will cancel six of my concerts, but one of them will be approved. That means something, he believes. If you're patient and persistent, you eventually get your way.

Most are not that patient, however. Not everyone can stomach constant, daily humiliation in the hands of petty religious freaks who dominate the country. There comes a point when your home, your family, your friends, your fresh noon barbari, can't keep you tied down. You want to sing, you want to write, you want to paint as you please. But all you can do is dream and get depressed that it will probably never come true. Even things as simple as your dress and appearance can disturb "national security". Are you kidding me? I'm outta here!

And so many leave, reluctantly, with a heavy heart.

"Round-Trip" is a touching piece of work. Well put together. Well worth re-exploring issues of identity.


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more from Jahanshah Javid

Life inside a women's prison in Afghanistan

by Anonymouse on


Profound topic

by Monda on

Takes me back to 20, 30 years ago dealing with serious identity issues and "What If"s. Residues of which still remain and always will.

Reading on Khanom Parhizgar, her flm sounds like it passionately tries to open up the concept of "Belonging" among all of us, not only the younger generation of Iranian immigrants. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Round Trip.

Hoshang Targol

Being born in a Prison

by Hoshang Targol on

Due to parents' political commitments is unfortunately another unfathomable legacy of IR.

Some of our friends also had their kids in Prison, in Mash'had, Tabriz and Tehran, that's back in early 80's. Glad to report all those kids are now succesful adults, living a normal life.

You could just imagine the sort of adjustments they had to go throught living in Canada, US or England.

Once a teacher had asked kids to make a drawing from home, so my friend's daughter ( who has seen her  father for the first year of her life only in jail) draw a picture with jail bars, and...So the teacher was puzzled as to what the picture was referring to. It took a lot of explaining to have everyone on the same page!

Incidentally, saw this news item today, related to women political -prisoners in Iran. Back to square one? you be the judge!


Women's Prison

by Anonymouse on

The opening of the film I was born in Evin political prison reminds me of the movie Women's Prison (2002). You can rent the DVD or watch is streaming online.

Round-Trip sounds like a good movie.  I'll make a note to watch it when it comes to our neck of the woods.

Everything is sacred

Anahid Hojjati

This poem from an Afghan poet discusses same issues

by Anahid Hojjati on

I just read this poem on facebook. It is from an Afghan poet and it touches on issue of where we belong:

غروب در نفس گرم جاده خواهم رفت
پیاده آمده بودم پیاده خواهم رفت

طلسم غربتم امشب شکسته خواهد شد
و سفره ای که تهی بود بسته خواهد شد


و در حوالی شبهای عید همسایه
صدای گریه نخواهی شنید همسایه

همان غریبه که قلک نداشت خواهد رفت
و کودکی که عروسک نداشت خواهد رفت

منم تمام افق را به رنج گردیده
منم که هر که مرا دیده در گذر دیده

منم که نانی اگر داشتم از آجر بود
و سفره ام که نبود از گرسنگی پر بود

به هر چه آینه تصویری از شکست من است
به سنگ سنگ بناها نشان دست من است

اگر به لطف و اگر قهر می شناسندم
تمام مردم این شهر می شناسندم

من ایستادم اگر پشت آسمان خم شد
نماز خواندم اگر دهر ابن ملجم شد

طلسم غربتم امشب شکسته خواهد شد
و سفره ام که تهی بود بسته خواهد شد

غروب در نفس گرم جاده خواهم رفت
پیاده آمده بودم پیاده خواهم رفت

چگونه باز نگردم که سنگرم آنجاست
چگونه آه... مزار برادرم آنجاست

چگونه باز نگردم که مسجد و محراب
و تیغ منتظر بوسه بر سرم آنجاست

اقامه بود و اذان بود آنچه اینجا بود
قیام بستن و الله و اکبرم آنجاست

شکسته بالی ام اینجا شکسته طاقت نیست
کرانه ای که در آن خوب می پرم آنجاست

مگیر خرده که یک پا و یک عصا دارم
مگیر خرده که آن پای دیگرم آنجاست

شکسته می گذرم امشب از کنار شما
و شرمسارم از الطاف بی شمار شما

من از سکوت شب سردتان خبر دارم
شهید داده ام از دردتان خبر دارم

تو هم به سان من از یک ستاره سر دیدی
پدر ندیدی و خاکستر پدر دیدی

تویی که کوچه غربت سپرده ای با من
و نعش سوخته بر شانه برده ای با من

تو زخم دیدی اگر تازیانه من خوردم
تو سنگ خوردی اگر آب و دانه من خوردم

اگر چه مزرع ما دانه های جو هم داشت
و چند بته مستوجب درو هم داشت

اگر چه تلخ شد آرامش همیشه تان
اگر چه کودک من سنگ زد به شیشه تان

اگر چه متهم جرم مستند بودم
اگر چه لایق سنگینی لحد بودم

دم سفر مپسندید نا امید مرا
ولو دروغ عزیزان بهل کنید مرا

تمام آنچه ندارم نهاده خواهم رفت
پیاده آمده بودم پیاده خواهم رفت

به این امام قسم چیز دیگری نبرم
به جز غبار حرم چیز دیگری نبرم

خدا زیاد کند اجر دین و دنیاتان
و مستجاب شود باقی دعاهاتان

همیشه قلک فرزندهایتان پر باد
و نان دشمنتان هر که هست آجر باد

محمدکاظم کاظمی - شاعر و نویسنده افغانستانی