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Day 345 #FreeNazanin – Letter to my husband

Richard Ratcliffe
London, United Kingdom

Mar 14, 2017 — Another letter from Nazanin was published by the Defenders of Human Rights Center on Friday. The Farsi version can be found here: http://www.humanrights-ir.org/?p=1723

As background - before all this happened, Nazanin and I had often talked about going to live in Iran for a year or so, so that our children would know their Iranian side rather than just the UK, so that Gabriella would also know herself as Gisou, and could understand how the world looks in a different pair of shoes. So our children could feel themselves to be both, rather than caught between.

Of course we never imagined this experience. It is one of the things Nazanin has felt the hardest – beyond taking her away from her home here this past year, is realising what it means for visiting her family. For her, the keenest injustice of being treated as an enemy by her country is them taking away from her a home there.

In other news, we are still waiting for her urgent hospitalisation. It has been over three weeks since the neurologist recommended it. Nazanin’s father was told this weekend again by the Prosecutors Office that they are awaiting a decision. He goes again this week.

There has been some good news: The previous MRI results showed the problem in her neck is one of the discs out of place, not the vertebrae themselves. It is her shoulder and arm that need the urgent attention. She still talks of searing pains in her neck and back, increasingly constant numbness in her hands and ability to move them, and her hair is still falling out, and she was again unable to join in many evening activities (even the reading group), but she did not pass out this week. And she is being tested for her thyroid.

As she says in her letter, we have had rough days this year. But they have given us both a deeper understanding of many things, perhaps most what we mean to each other, which one day again we can share. As she also says: we shall overcome this pain. Freedom is one day closer. And there will be new journeys to explore. I echo that dream.

Azizam,
A year has gone by since our embrace and kiss in London when I was on my way to Iran. Gisou and I had packed only for a two-week trip to spend Norooz 1395 (Persian New Year, March, 2016) with our family in Tehran. A trip that didn’t return us back home.

Our Gisou has grown taller. She now understands very well that her father and mother are not together. Father is in London and mother is far away living in a room where we have been visiting each other during all this time.

She has completely forgotten your language. At the same time, her Persian is so sweet. I often wonder in what language you communicate with each other. The most painful part of this whole affair is that neither of us have witnessed our daughter grow up. Neither of us.

The country we were once proud of has robbed us both of seeing the golden years of our daughter’s life. It has accused me of committing something I have not done. Shockingly it has condemned me to five years in prison, which I have to spend away from you and our dear Gisou.

Do you remember that I promised you that we would take the children to go and live in Tehran for a couple of years, so they could learn more about the country in which I was born and raised? I take it back.

Do you remember the time that I was proud of my country and used to tell your family and friends about every little detail? I am still proud of its civilisation and culture, but I'm not too sure that after all the pain and suffering, when I leave it, whether I will ever return or not.

Do you remember that I used to insist on going to Iran each year to spend Nowrouz? I will never ask you that again.

Do you remember that every time that I was planning to go to Iran, I would try to convince your family to accompany us? Let me take it back.

This isn't what I was trying to teach about my country to you and your family.

The days of being apart still continue. The first nine months of last year were spent because of an uncommitted crime, in various solitary cells, many days during which I believed that I would never see you again. Every day and every second I would submerge more and more in an ocean of doubt, fear, threat, loneliness and more than anything mistrust.

My life and dreams would fast forward in front of my eyes, as if looking at a cinema screen. My wails would go unheard in that tiny, dingy, cold, grey cell.

No one would see me scream for my two year old daughter who wasn't in my arms. I was engulfed in surging waves of injustice and atrocity. I couldn't save myself and no one was coming to save me.

Many nights I thought I would see the sun rise again, although natural light couldn't get into the cell and time had gone into a long suspense. That was when I got a better, deeper understanding of how much pain a person can suffer.

The night before our Gisou was born, when I was struggling with the labour pain, I thought I would die of pain and would never see our daughter. Then I thought there is nothing more painful than that. In solitary, there was a moment when I realised that there is a level of pain that I hadn't experience before, a pain thousands of times longer, more overwhelming than child birth, without a happy ending.

Still I cannot describe it, but little by little I learned how to fight it.

I started dreaming - dreaming of the day that plane lands in London and I will see Gisou overjoyed to see you. In my dream, you kneel down with your arms open, and she runs towards you enthusiastically and you embrace her. It was enough for me to see this most beautiful, lasting moment of reunion often in my head. I dreamed especially about being together at home celebrating her second birthday.

Yet 9 months have passed since that day. Those thoughts remain - nothing more than a dream.

I also dreamed of being together for our wedding anniversary (the seventh). Not only did that not happen. That was the day I found myself in court, disillusioned with my shattered dreams and their broken, empty promises.

In the end those dreams faded, taking my hope of freedom and slowly putting out the light flickering in the tunnel, the dream of getting back to you and Gisou at the end of this bumpy road.

It has been a year since I last saw you and I don't know how much you have changed. How much does a person change in a year anyway?

I haven't even heard your voice without a third person being present next to me. Every time I have cried and begged you to take me home. Words cannot describe the injustice accompanying those moments.

We have had rough days and have been apart, but our love has grown stronger. I turned 38 without you, you turned 42 without me, and our Gisou has turned two without both of us. I can't imagine how hard it is to be two. Yet life has imposed the burden of such a difficult experience on her and her tiny shoulders.

You promised all the people who love us and follow our story with their hearts that the day will come when freedom will blossom on the almond sapling that we planted in our garden of love.

We were born with pain, and pain and agony is an integral part of all our lives. The only difference is that our share has been more than normal.

But hold my hands, let us finish this chapter. We shall overcome this pain. Today freedom has got one day closer. And I will return, once again, to the city that I loved. I will embrace you in my anguish.

There is an alley inside that we yet haven't explored,
A journey that I haven't yet gone with you,
Days and nights that I haven't yet spent with you,
Love poems that I haven't yet shared.

Nazanin
Esfand 1395 (March 2017)
Evin Prison


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