After Years of Captivity

Memoirs of Manijeh Lashkari

Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan

2022-08-23


It was the month of Muharram of 1374 (June 1995). When I woke up on the day of Ashura, I saw that Ali was not at home. He had said that he would go to the Hey’at (mourning group). I was walking inside the house without any motivation. I went and opened the fridge, poured a glass of milk, and drank half of it. I left the glass on the cabinet, went to the closet and got dressed. I was sure of what I wanted to do. Hussein was in love with Imam Hussein. Because of this, he named our son Ali Akbar and I did not object. I put on two pairs of socks and ran out of the house without shoes. Since the first day of Muharram, I had vowed to go barefoot on the street on Ashura and accompany the Imam Hussain's Hey’ats. As I was walking slowly following the mourning groups, I was crying uncontrollably and talking to Imam Hussein. I used to say: "Sir, I put you as a mediator between me and God. I don't know what to do with my life. I have been desperate, tired and heartbroken. Save me, I have no energy anymore..."

At noon, I prayed along with the mourners on the asphalt of the streets and then I returned home. That night I had a dream: the dream of a middle-aged and very beautiful lady who did not have a single black hair on her head; I was wondering in the dream world why this lady's hair is so white. I sat comfortably next to this lady and told her the story of my life from the beginning. She also listened patiently. I told her: "This is my life." I don't know what to do with this life." She calmly shook her head and said: "I know all these things you told about your life. You have to wait..." When she said: "You have to wait", I wanted to say that I can't wait any longer, my patience is exhausted, but Hussein told me in the dream world that this is Hazrat Zainab (SA).

When I woke up, I was drenched in sweat. I was crying uncontrollably; I was staring at the sheet that was wet with tears. In less than a month, I got a call from the Air Force. It was the 14th or 15th of Khordad1374 (June 4 or 5, 195). The Department of Prisoners and Missing Persons announced that the World Red Cross has seen Hussein Lashkari and they have given him permission to write a letter. I didn't believe it. I thought it started again, hope and then despair. But this time Hussein really gave a letter. When they gave me his letter, my hand was shaking; I could not believe that this was Hussein's handwriting. I smelled the letter, kissed it; I had been shocked completely. Those around made me to sit on a chair.

The first letter was very short: "I'm alive... I don't know where you are... I have no news of anything... I don't know what address I should write to; that’s why I'm writing this letter to the address of the Air Force... dear Manijeh, wherever you are, write to me about the situation of you and the child... Until today, it was not possible to tell you this. Now that I have this possibility, I write to you that my situation is not clear at all. You are free to marry." I read these few lines more than a hundred times. I felt sick twice due to immense happiness and excitement. The doctor said that it would be dangerous for my damaged nerves to bear this amount of excitement and happiness. The congratulations began; Friends and acquaintances, my family, Hussein's family, and... The phone kept ringing. My quiet house and monotonous life had become full of clamor and joy. Whenever I woke up, I would take the letter from under my pillow and read it again. I felt like a mother who opens her eyes every morning and looks at the baby sleeping in her arms and kisses him or her and her heart is filled with joy. Hussein's letter was like the same baby for me. They asked me to write him a letter. So I wrote briefly: “Dear Hussein ... After sixteen years of wandering and not hearing from you, your letter arrived... Your letter was very dry. I waited for you at the height of unawareness, and you write very easily, go and marry... Many years ago, the Martyr Foundation had offered this conclusive argument, which you offered to me today. During all these difficult years, Ali's face was in front of me and the hope of my life ... so I forgot about marriage... life has become difficult for me... but what should I do... I try to be strong; Pray for me... I hope you won't be upset by my words... but I have feelings too”.

I sent him one or two photos of myself and some photos of Ali along with the letter. I thought that it made no difference for him what I looked like at this age; what I was sure that was incredibly new for him was Ali and his growth year by year... I wrote down all the photos; this is my two-year-old photo...first grade...ten-year-old and...

Hussein sent me a photo along with his second letter, and this photo really blew me away. I didn't imagine he had become so old and broken. In the photo, a thin, pale, broken man with white hair and a long beard had stood in front of the prison bars. He had a tired and oppressed look; it was as if he had been squeezed. This man was my Hussein! The Hussein, whom I loved so much, left me at the age of twenty-eight. He was the most handsome and well-built man in the family.

He had written in the letter: "I'm fine, I'm in a good place, I have a bed here in my room... a radio... I exercise every day and sunbathe and..." But the picture I saw told me different things.

We wrote letters and sent photos to each other for three years. When I saw his photos, various thoughts came to me. I thought that this would not have happened if he had lived a life with minimal means during these years. He must have had bad conditions in these years. The Hussein I saw was a new being, as if he had suddenly fallen into my life from the middle of the sky.

At night, when I became alone and there were no friends and acquaintances around me, I thought: O God, can we live together again? Can he stand me? Can I accept him with his new spirit?...[1]

 


[1] Jafarian, Golestan, Mirror-less Days, Memoirs of Manijeh Lashkari, Tehran, Sooreh Mehr, 1395 (2016), p. 92.



 
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