Hello Kids- Letters and Poetry from Iran
Translated by; Anonymous, and Chavisa Woods
Farzad Kamangar was a 32-year-old Iranian Kurdish teacher, poet, journalist, human rights, women’s rights and environmental activist from the city of Kamyaran who was executed on May 9, 2010. Kamangar was sentenced to death on February 25, 2008 on charges against national security including being a member of PJAK, a militant armed Kurdish group, and active participation in several bombing attacks. He never accepted the accusations and was repeatedly tortured for his denial. According to his lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, “Nothing in Kamangar’s judicial files and records demonstrates any links to the charges brought against him.” Bahramian, the lawyer, who was present during the closed-door court hearing, described it as:
“Lasting no more than five minutes, with the Judge issuing his sentence without any explanation and then promptly leaving the room. ... I have seen absolutely zero evidence presented against Kamangar. In my forty years in the legal profession, I have never witnessed such a prosecution.”
His cruel execution together with four other political prisoners caused outrage and mourning in Iran and internationally. This is a letter he wrote to his students while in prison.
Hello kids, I miss you all. In this place where I am, day and night I craft living poems from my memories of you. Every morning, instead of greeting you, I greet the Sun. I wake when you wake, but I am surrounded by these walls. Sometimes something like desolation encompasses me completely.
I wish, like in the past, when we returned from the field trips exhausted from all of our clamor, we could rinse the dust of our fatigue in the crystalline water of the village spring. I wish, like in the past we could give our ears to 1”the sound of the water’s steps” and give our bodies to the caress of flowers and grass. We would convene our class with the beautiful symphony of nature. We stuff the math book with all its variables under a rock, because when father has no bread to bring to the table what difference does it make whether Pi is 3.14 or 100.14? We would put aside the science lessons with all their physical and chemical changes and hope for a greater change, of the substance of love and miracle. We would follow the moving clouds, and we would hope for a change that could prevent Koorosh, your passionate classmate, from abandoning school and study for manual labor, and he would never fall from some construction site he was working, leaving us forever, giving up his life in pursuit of bread. We would be found waiting for a kind of change that would bring a new pair of shoes and new clothes and a table full of candies and sweets for everyone.
2I wish we could again secretly review the Kurdish Alphabet, away from gaze of the grumpy principle. We would compose recite poetry and sing for each other again in our mother tongue, and hand in hand we would dance, and dance and dance.
I wish I could again be the goalkeeper for the first grade boys, and you would try to score past me with the dream of becoming Ronaldo. You would embrace each other in celebration. But alas, you don’t know that in our land, dreams and wishes grow layers of dust more quickly than our picture frames holding forgotten memories. I wish I could again be the regular member in the circle of 3Amoo Zanjirboff, with the first grade girls, the same girls who I know, in years to come, you will write, “I wish I wasn’t born a girl.”
I know you’ve grown up. You will marry. But to me you are the same little angels who carried the kiss of 4Ahoora and innocence on your forehead, and it will always be visible. Who knows if you were not the angels born out of poverty and suffering, if you were not petitioning for a women’s rights campaign, or if you were not born in this corner of the land which god has forgotten,” then maybe you would not be forced, at thirteen, with eyes full of tears and envy under the white bridal veil, to say goodbye to school for the last time and experience completely the bitter experience of being the second sex.
Daughters of the land of Ahoora, when tomorrow you are picking violets from the mountain, making floral wreaths for your children, remember all the joys and glories of your own childhood.
Sons of the Sun, when you can no more sit with your classmates and read and laugh, because after the misery of becoming a man because the pressure of the provider has you by the collar, please don’t betray your songs, poems and dreams.
Teach your children to be of substance, substance of poetry and rain for today and tomorrow. I leave you to the mercy of the wind and Sun so that in a not so distant future you will sing of love and integrity for our land.