May 9, 2010 was going to be a happy day: I had time to write another cover letter for yet another job that was not my forte, not being an author, before I dressed up for a party, to be ready to be picked up by my fiancé…
My tears had no reason to roll down since I did not know any of these people and they were neither the first, nor the last Kurds executed by the Iranian government. But tears don’t look for reasons and I surrendered to hours of non-stop sobs that smudged the words I’d been writing.
Resolving not to ruin my fiancé’s evening, I showered and put on a smile. But a “What’s wrong?” coming from a person that knew me so well was enough to smear my mascara and stain his new shirt. He was not the first person to warn me that my unusual empathies had turned into a curse. But what was I to do?
What are you and I to do when we don’t want to turn a blind eye to the atrocities happening around the world? Embittered by the writing industry that I’d experienced before, I had put aside my abilities as a writer and now, with the news from the radio I wondered even how to read. How are we to read the bitter narrative of this world? Is what happened to this Farzad and many others, part of a bigger narrative that can provide context and offer meaning? Justification? In a world of contradictions, the sublime and the hideous, how are we to face the complications, adapt, and yet again recover the eagerness to push on towards creating a better place?
Art and literature.
The artist and writer disrobes the fully-dolled-up-world, cultivates our senses by exposing the magnificence and the repugnant, humanizes the “other” and encourages us to reflect, to negate the negative, and finally art fuels us to stay humane, to become humane.
That day I picked up my pen again and have never put it down since.
Ava Homa is the author of Echoes from the Other Land, which was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and placed 6th in the Top Ten CBC Reader’s Choice Contest for the Giller Prize.
Her work has appeared in The Literary Review of Canada, Toronto Quarterly, Windsor Review, the Toronto Star and Rabble. Her collection has a running theme of resistance by modern Iranian women. The stories are told on a universal scale, depicting human endurance, desire and passion.
Ava Homa is a columnist for Bas Newspaper, teaches Creative Writing and English at George Brown College in Toronto and a is member of PEN Canada.
Ava exiled from Kurdistan-Iran in 2007 leaving her family and friends behind her.
She is among the few Kurdish female authors who write about the Kurdish community, Human Rights abused and history.
Farzad Kamangar was an elementary school teacher and nonviolent civil liberties advocate from Iranian Kurdistan who was detained by security forces in 2006 and accused of collaborating with Kurdish opposition groups. Charged with being a mohareb or “enemy of God,” Kamangar refused to confess in spite of four years of detention and torture, while his letters from his cell led international organizations like UNICEF and Education International to condemn his imprisonment.
He wrote a letter from his cell at Evin Prison, north of Tehran, a few months before his execution on May 9th, 2010. It has been sent to the Kurdish news website NNS ROJ website for publication.
…”There, with or without me, in the midst of all that beauty and glory which is the link of our attachment to this country, in the heart of a land forever pregnant with pain and whose children grow up only to suffer; sit down there, touch the earth in my stead, and write your song, a song which you will murmur in its ears:
O maternal land,
Here, buried in your heart,
Rest the bones and the memories of my ancestors.
Here are entombed my forefathers, my descendants and my children.
O my country,
You, the mother of my forerunners,
I wish I could caress your beauty once again,
Bear witness to your charm,
Company to your silence,
Remedy to your pains,
I wish I could shed your tears.
I wish I could…
I hope to see you and the sunrise again”.
Farzad, Evin Prison, Section 7.
Click Here to read the entire letter