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Iran 1st-Hand: Detained Activist Mahdieh Golroo to Her Imprisoned Husband "Our Best Days Are Yet to Come"

Student activist Mahdieh Golroo has been imprisoned since December 2009, sentenced to 2 1/2 years for "engaging in propaganda activities against the regime" and "conspiring to act against national security". Her husband, Vahid Lalipour, is also detained, serving a one-year sentence.

Recenlty Golroo wrote this letter to her husband. It has been translated by Arash Azizi of Persian2English:

My heart has been exposed….

I want to write of a great and strange experience that is perhaps the only reason I am compelled to write nowadays --- the experience of silence in cries, a flicker of light in the heart of darkness, the warmth of July in the cold of January, feeling close while [far] away, burning but not dying, a miracle in the heart of passivity, being awake in the sleep, dreams in nightmares, and a canary within the crows.

[This experience] is something that I don’t know how to express, even when every part of my existence is filled with it. Something is inside of me like a white stone inside a well. [This thing], for me, is both happiness and sadness. If one stares at my eyes, one could see it and would be sadder than when hearing the saddest story and happier than after nocturnal feasts of drinking.

I want to talk of a unique experience- of love behind tall walls, of reaching one another in the heart of separation. I am referring to my love: a novel experience that I thought it unjust not to be recounted.

It is now two years and two months since I have been living in Heaven [a sarcastically reference to Evin Prison]! Month after month, I told myself several times that I am under the dust, and that I have broken and died… but, I have survived, and now I am writing.

The first three months of my detention was accompanied by the bitter detention of my beloved [Mahdieh and Vahid were arrested together on 2 December 2009]. [His detention] had made a graveyard out of my solitary cell, and and it was with the hope of freedom for my other half that I got through the days. It seemed as though I was whispering to myself: All those attempts for us to be one --- the months of insistence, an insistence on living together --- and now….

After three months [following Vahid's initial release on bail], it was as if half of my bodily cells had experienced the freedom of walking in the streets, while I thought about what he was doing. Was he at home or out? [I thought about] where he breathed in that 60 square-meter-large heaven [Mahdieh is referring to her home with Vahid].

When I heard Shabnam [Madadzadeh's] phone [privileges] were cut, I told Atefeh [Nabavi]: “If I don’t hear Vahid’s voice every day, I will die.” In November 2010, after the phones were cut [for the women political prisoners], I told myself that the only way to live is to see [Vahid]. Until a few months ago, my only nightmare was the imprisonment of my existence, of my Vahid in chains. I was so horrified by this nightmare that it would not leave me during my sleep or while I was awake.

[Before] every meeting, I worried that he may not appear behind that dusty glass, and then, “what would I do?” I did not know that on the night of my birthday, a few steps away, only a few breaths away, [Vahid was also imprisoned]….

Wow, how horrible those moments were and how hard it was when Atefeh told me that the house we built with our wishes is now empty!

I had always said that, when Vahid is free, it is as if I am [also free], and I don’t feel the depth of these cold [prison] bars. I could bear everything here, but I can’t bear Vahid waking up with the heavy sound of loudspeakers [in the prison] every morning. [I can't bear] for his kind steps to be limited to the tall walls that makes you feel vertigo! [I can't bear] that he is unable to eat the foods he wants! Every pretty picture I see, I say to myself: maybe he wants to be here.

With every snowfall, I am now worried. What if the shift doctor is not there? What if the medicine runs out? What if the guard is not there to take him to the hospital?

All that was once simple is now difficult. I have discovered that I love him more than myself and my wishes.

Sometimes, I stand for hours behind the wall --- like the Berlin Wall or the Great Wall of China --- that separates us. I stand there and talk of our memories --- of these ruthless torturers. The memories don’t allow me to be alone for even a second. [I talk about the] days ahead when we will build something better than what we [had already] built. Our best days are yet to come!

I always thought that not seeing him [would be] the hardest catastrophe, but these four months were harder for me than when I was unable to meet with him. [At least before], I knew that if he missed me, he could stare at our photos and take a long walk to rid himself of the sadness. But, here, [Vahid is alone with] his bed. Love, however, will come to the rescue. When everybody’s ovens are full of coals and the warmth fills their houses, we are here- our existence is warm with the coals we made ourselves. It is warm, very warm.

The patience of these years has brought the gift of love, which has created a fire in me that neither terror or separation could challenge.

Love is the reward received after suffering for a heart that is not attached to the lowly material pleasures.

The loving prisoner is always more patient, for she can say sadly, quietly, and proudly: “They could take whatever I had from me. And the only thing hiding in the heart that is undetectable is love that is not lost, not reduced. And that makes you hopeful that you would have died if you were not a lover. And now, I, with no spite for all the bitterness that I have experienced and seen, write of this suffering that makes love grow. There were days when I lost everything: youth, passion, freedom. But, the love remained and helped me so I could one day experience all that again: youth, passion and freedom.”

Now, every time that I pass Darband (a popular area in Tehran], I closely look at the trees and the path. Maybe his kind eyes made the place sacred. I look at my steps- perhaps I could step on his strong and stable footsteps, for the most difficult hardships and darkest moments did not ask me to be what I can’t be! I am talking about an experience that makes me burn like a phoenix and feel anew everyday.

How can [one] not experience love? Crying for it is the happiness of possessing a gem. A human’s love is more hopeful than them, more sad than them, and more enduring than them. I love “love” more than humans. I can live without another human in my cell, but not without love… And how beautiful it is to think of love in the midst of all the good and bad news in the prison.

What would be a life without love- a life without the constant antidote that makes your memories and moments immortal. In the moments that I was drowning in the sadness of separation, it was the happiness of these emotions that sent me to skies.

* Inspired by the love of Nazim Hikmet and Anna Akhmatova whose poems were my mirror of love in the prison.

Mahdieh Golroo
Evin prison

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