A note at the threshold of 2011
I have returned, along side the New Year,
To break open the locks of prisons.
(A line by Shams-Rumi)
By: Shokooh Mirzadegi
The poison of dictatorship and the absence
of freedom in the land where we were born and raised is so toxic and have
imprinted their effects on our psyche so deep that even if we leave our
country, or to be precise, when we are forced to escape out of it, our
traumatic wounds travel with us and awaken our wishes for the dawn of
freedom in our motherland everytime we come across moments of social
jubilations. That is why I think of freedom – the very rare jewel that has
been stolen from my country - more than ever during these days.
These days, there are a lot of joyous
moments in the land where I live and now has become my second home. Passing
by every house, I can see the lights in the windows, and can return the gaze
of the green trees that look at you from amongst the lights and colorful
ribbons showing the fact that winter has not been able to conquere them.
We are standing at the threshold of yet
another Christian New Year, that ancient ritual that always looks so new; a
ritual which is celebrated by most of the people of the world how have no
connection to a certain religion. This is an occasion where millions of
people put aside their entire individual grieves and joys just to observe
this happy retual together, though keeping their individual styles of
celebrating with dance and music, hoping for a better world with peace and
happiness in the coming year.
Just like old times, we too have our Yalda
green tree sitting next to the window. I have decorated it with lights and
dolls and birds and have put a sun on its top. Yet, this very tree, this
symbol of joy and rejuvenation, reminds me that freedom is still lacking in
my country and its name still appears at the top of people’s wish-lists.
Celebrating the New Year here is so nice
and comforting! It is purely riddled by happy moments. People of all creeds,
religions, races, colors and opinions pour into the streets at this special
night and await, shoulder to shoulder, the arrival of a New Year that never
breaks its promise of punctuality, coming to open the doors of joy to the
awaiting crowds. It actually rises from the hearts of the people and makes
everyone kiss others on lips and cheeks hoping that their New Year begins
with love and kindness.
Yet, the most painful thing in these
moments to me is an obvious fact, testified by research in history, that all
these ceremonies of trees, presents and happy gatherings stem from my
country’s Mithraic traditions. It is so sad to recognize that none of these
rituals are left today, leaving us with nothing but a deep sense of dissent.
Our neighbors and friends bring us sweets,
home-made jams, flower pots, and colorful cards. But amongst all these
joyous encounters I suddenly remember that stolen freedom of my motherland
and picture those friends of ours who, at these very days and moments, are
sitting in windowless and dark cells and no one can see their youthful
greenness. They look at the closed doors and their heavy locks, knowing that
only freedom can break these barriers - the very freedom that always rises
like a sun in every New Year and every merry moment in these happy lands.
After all these long years that I have
spent far from my country in many other lands, I have come to the conclusion
that there is a noble relationship between freedom and happiness. Wherever
there is freedom you can see the growth of happy celebrations; and wherever
there is a political prison you can see nothing but the web of a spider
called sorrow. I actually think that freedom and happiness are the same and
without freedom all joys are fake and hollow.
We are standing at the threshold of a New
Year, the eleventh year of the twenty first century.
People wearing the garments of freedom are
welcoming their New Year with light and laughter and, amongst all these joys
so near to me, I stand, as a citizen coming from a land imprisoned into the
clutches of dictatorship, remembering my home more vivid that ever, wishing
for the moment when locks are broken and doors are wide open to the people
who are trapped in darkness and loneliness.