Translation by Iran Press Watch
As you read this letter, I am behind bars
As you read this letter, I, Sarang Etehadi, have left my home, along with my small bag, for prison, for a period of a year. House lights are turned off, and the kettle on the stove is empty of water and cold. The windows are closed and the curtains drawn shut. There is no aroma of home cooked food, and the pleasant humidity of the cooler in the hot midday hours of summer has been replaced by the heavy and humid air of when the electricity is off.
As you read this letter, I am there, behind bars, charged with the crime of being a Baha’i, guilty of thinking differently, like so many others with various charges. I do not know how big the cell that I will occupy is, or how much light it has. I do not know who is there or what will become of me. But I do know that no one is waiting for me at home, because my wife, Nasim already went to Evin prison to serve her sentence before me. I think of her, who instead of sitting in our home, is sitting in one of the cells of the same prison, far from my cell, with the same charges, every bit as unjust and unfair.
As this letter is being read, perhaps with my eyes are closed as I sit at the bottom of a cell, thinking about our town, the town that both Nasim and I love, and our home with its lights off. My heart is probably heavy in the darkness; longing for the sun, which is probably rare in the prison.
I don’t want to imagine my town as a place where the lights of the homes go off one by one, as the prison cells fill up with people who are now behind locked doors. I would like to see a city filled with sunlight and freshly washed clean colorful clothes lined up to dry in the sun. A city that belongs to all the people, where grandfathers are enjoying themselves in the parks, where classrooms are full of fragrant and colorful pens and notebooks, filled with kids and parents, where no one questions anyone’s beliefs. There, at the bottom of a prison cell, I would like to imagine my town at some better time, a day when no one has been summoned to court for their beliefs no matter what the beliefs may be – and the sound of laughter pouring out from all the windows.
As this letter is read, it would be good if you too would close your eyes and imagine the same city. A city where no one is detained for the crime of thinking differently. In this city, the lights of our house are on. The curtains are open, and the aroma of freshly brewed tea has filled the air. Nasim is sitting on the couch reading a book. I will probably not be missing her anymore, since I am sitting next to her. There, at the bottom of the cell, I imagine Nasim’s smile and I miss the sun. My lovely town, the town that I never want to leave, even if, in all its vastness, my share would only be a small cell. A town where I will stay until it offers me a home with lit lights and a friendly smile.
I, Sarang Etehadi, will remain hopeful all my three hundred and sixty-five days in the prison, with the hope that it is a step toward reaching the day when tolerance, mutual understanding and friendship will replace violence, revenge, and bullying. A day in which no one will ask about another’s beliefs, or imprison anyone because of their beliefs. A day when everyone will have a bench where they can study, a room in which to work for a living, and a space to rest in peace after death. A day when no forms will have a “religion” question, when people will not be fired from work or universities, and when no one demolishes anyone’s tombstone. A day when all the people of the town have a share of the sun. That day will surely come, and the sky of this town will hear the sound of our laughter. I have no doubt about this. When you read this letter, even from there, from the bottom of that cell I can imagine your hopeful smile. I too will smile with you, with all my hope, anticipating the steps that you will take – all over the world – until that day, which is not far off, when we will all go home and turn on the darkened lights forever…
July 24, 2014 3:57 pm
Sarang Etehadi, Be sure. Every day we pray for you! Your letter is full of vision. And it will be as you described: Lights on, fragrant tea brewing in the home dwellings, students striving to achieve their potential with no questions asked. All this and more. Precious friend, among the most precious friends of God!
July 24, 2014 5:03 pm
Dear Sarang and Nasim, our prayers are with you and all the innocent people imprisoned in Iran for their beliefs.
July 25, 2014 8:13 pm
Sarang and Nasim, I can’t even imagine the horror of your incarceration. I pray God that you will both have the strength to endure this, and return once again to your home, renewed in faith.
July 28, 2014 6:51 pm
It is because of people like you that our world will slowly become a better place. It is because you have chosen to focus on the light instead of the dark that someday our world will see more peace. It is because you think about love rather than hate that unity will someday be attainable. It is because of people like you who have stood up for what is right, no matter what the cost, that someday this injustice will be unimaginable. You are an example to all, leading the way for a brighter future. Thank you. I too await the day when you and your wife will be reunited in your light filled home.
July 30, 2014 8:51 am
Dear Sarang and Nasim – Your imprisonment is watering the faith of Baha’ullah dear friends. Thank you for your tribulations in the path of Faith. Regards Tony
August 1, 2014 2:28 am
Dear Sarang Khan and Nasim Khanum, my are prayers for both you, and for, rest of the dear friends who are imprisoned.
God is with you in every breath you take, to bring your imagination, dreams, desires and wishes to come true.
by the Grace of God, one day I would, have the honour, to see, both of you and the rest of the friends who are there, free like birds enjoying your life with your family and friends.
with warmest love and hugs
August 3, 2014 8:12 pm
I feel sad for couples who are imprisoned for having a religious faith, this has continued in Iran since the mid 19th century. There is no need for this. It seems the old fears have never left that country. When is this going to be exposed?
Harold F. Lane