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Day 443 #FreeNazanin – Birthday Girl

Richard Ratcliffe
London, United Kingdom

Jun 19, 2017 — Last weekend was Gabriella’s 3rd birthday. Nazanin published a letter to her: There is a translation below.

The past weeks had involved many hopes and promises that Nazanin would be home in time - that the landmark might not pass apart. That was not to be.

But this year at least Gabriella’s birthday fell on a visiting day. Unlike last year, when Nazanin had been disappeared incommunicado, this year they got to see each other, and Nazanin was able to mark it.

She was able to make a cherry cake (pictured), which the family were allowed to take home to eat. Since it is Ramadan, they are fasting in the visiting room, though Gabriella (Gisou as she is known on the ward) checked one cherry. She also received presents from many of the other prisoners’ families, one of Nazanin’s cellmates even made her a bag. Later Nazanin hosted a birthday meal for those inside, with celebration watermelon.

There is much to say next time on how Gabriella increasingly makes sense of the separation, but clearest this week is that Gabriella understands birthdays much better at 3 than she did last year. She rushed home to blow out candles, and test her new scooter. A pink, not blue one.

Nazanin puts it more eloquently in her letter below. For me, simply I hope next year in London.

My darling Gisou,

You were born at 19:11 on 11 June 2014 London time in a hospital in the north of the city, after 55 hours of pain. It was a pain that was worth every second for the reward of seeing your beautiful face.

Did you know that you spent your first hour of life in your father's arms? After more than two days of pain, I was drained of energy to embrace you?

Did you know that you slept peacefully through the first six hours after your birth? The following morning, your father and I woke up to tweets of birds in the hospital garden while you remained fast asleep.

It took us two days to finally take you home and show you to the whole world. Your father and I were the luckiest people in the world. It was only after your birth, after we had spent too long deciding when to have a child, that we realized – just how we had been denying ourselves such beautiful years.

It didn't take us long to get used to rhythm of you. Your times of feeding and sleeping, and the hiccups and the non-stop sneezes.
I have sweet memories from the days we were together. You found peace on your father's arms as he sang you lullabies. From the very first days you loved music and songs.

But those sweet and beautiful days did not last long. Our trip to Iran last Norouz [2016], when you were 22 months, was one of no return.
The past 14 months, my share of you is only the occasional hour in the visiting room at Evin Prison. How young you are to be forced to go through such a horrible experience?

And yet you have grown. In spite of all our efforts, you have grown enough to know where I am. It is what you tell the other mothers in in the park, when they ask you where your mother is? In prison, you answer, as though it is normal. In the world of a three year old, perhaps it is.

My darling daughter, my darling Gisou, the word 'prison' is bitter and suggests separation. But I promise you that the sad, sombre days of our separation will be ended soon. You and I will hold our heads high, we will walk towards freedom with pride.

The day will come when injustice will stop casting its shadow over our heads and justice will emerge from behind the cold, dark clouds covering the skies of this city. And there will come a day when we will return to the city we love.

My Gisou flower, happy third birthday to you.

This is the second birthday away where your father and I are not there with you, not there to embrace you. But know that our hearts are with you.

I catch myself surprised at our news full of laments for far away suffering – for the real suffering and separation of mothers from their children in Palestine and Syria and Yemen, but eyes shut to what mothers and children go through in our own land.

We have gone through some very difficult days in this land, but we will walk the rest of the road - thanks to the never-ending love of your father, and the support from family, friends and millions of people that follow our story throughout the world. Give me your hand, my beautiful girl. We will walk the rest of this path.

Happy third birthday to you, the shining red apple of my life, my beautiful girl with the shining locks, my Gisou

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