December 31, 2000Rasht, IranDear Dictator, Times have changed since the last time we met, people have changed, societies and cultures are now different from what they used to be in Iran. Children act in a different way than how they used to back in the time of the revolution. Those were tough times that shaped the lives of many people who lived in Iran. When I was 10 years old the revolution had started in Iran. I did not know what to do, there were people protesting everywhere. They would shout out “Down with the King” through the streets. Out the window, I remember seeing people throwing stones at the police who tried to shoot people for protesting. Every night my parents would come home, and I would ask them to play a game of Monopoly, it usually never worked out because they were too tired to play with me and I was just sent to bed.
I always got mad because all I wanted to do was play a game. That was one of the things I never understood when I was a child. One time, I decided to tell my parents that I love the king.
Suddenly my father chose to tell me a story about how the king came to power and what he had done. Soon after, I wondered if God had anything to do with the Shah, as I think about this, my father then told me how my grandfather had once been a prince. I was shocked in that moment I imagined the most amazing thing, my grandfather was a young strong man that used to ride on top of an elephant with a big bright sword. But then the Shah had come to power, taking everything away from my grandfather and making him Prime Minister. Later on, he had met some intellectual people who turned him into a Communist and said that people are condemned to a miserable future due to their social classes and way of living. I was surprised to hear this, and then I had the thought of someone in my family going through this situation. I had yet to understand why the Shah had done this, it wasn’t soon after my mother had walked into the room and started to tell me how my grandfather had been imprisoned for his political beliefs.
I started to think that expressing yourself was a crime because whatever you said or did could be against the law that the Shah enforced. A few weeks had passed, until one day I had returned home and I found that my grandmother was visiting us. I was eager to ask her about my grandfather and everything about his life under the government’s control. She was not in a very good mood and did not want to talk about it. The time had moved forward, and my father had not come home.
We were all worried because he went out to the demonstrations to protest. When he finally came back home, he explained that he had stopped by the hospital and had seen a group of people carrying out a dead body of a revolutionary. I did not pay much attention to it, but I did hear that the old man had died of cancer.
My parents and my grandmother were laughing, but I did not understand why they would laugh about a man dying of cancer, I thought this was something very mean to do. As I grew up, I started to understand the world in a different way, however, there were still many things that I did not get. The revolution had changed the people of Iran, I wanted to go out to the protest with my parents, but every time I asked, they would say that I wasn’t allowed; Mostly because they were extremely dangerous. One day my maid, Mehri, and I decided to go out to the demonstrations, we both thought that it was a good idea to go and experience what it felt like to shouted from morning until night. Late at night, we realized that this process was very tiring and we decided to go back home.
Once we arrived, both of my parents were waiting for us outside of the house, my mother rapidly approached us and slapped both Mehri and me on the right cheek. My mother had made it very clear that we should not have done that because we did not know what could have happened to us. After, we went to bed I realized that we went out on the worst day possible, a “Black Friday,” a day where so many people had been killed, more than usual.
After that day, I finally understood why my parents never wanted to take me to the demonstrations. It was a very dangerous place to be, especially for children because they did not understand the purpose of it. This shaped me in a different way and I saw things in a whole new way. I looked at different issues from a different perspective as I grew up. I started to understand more and more, but I knew that my life had changed because of the revolution and how it had affected me during my childhood.
I hope this letter gives you a sensational feeling of emotions that were dispersed in each memory in this letter. I hope you realize the struggles and the pains that the revolution caused the people of Iran. Sincerely, Marjane Satrapi