Photos by Negar Ahmadi.
My story starts somewhere on the streets of Tehran, where life with all its intensity and passion, boils out of her skin nurturing generations after generations. This versed yet modern metropolis, has witnessed the rise and fall of countless revolutions like the 1906 Constitutional Revolution, and national figures like Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, Farrokhroo Parsa, and Mir Hussein Mousavi, each of which has engraved the city a furrowed face, leaving marks so deep even the passage of time cannot heal.
I grew up amidst the turmoil of the Gulf War and the horrendous 9/11 attacks along with the peaceful days of Iran’s reformist president Mohammad Khatami - a tranquil tide with promises of a tolerant policy towards the international society. Arts and culture, being suppressed for more than two decades, bloomed; new waves of unpublished books and articles flooded the bookstores and libraries in this new age of enlightenment.
I would attend any cultural event - from plays to art exhibitions and independent film festivals; I would read any book I could put my hands on in my parent’s library: Shamloo, Nietzsche, Daneshvar and Oriana Fallaci among many others. With The Useless Sex I cried alongside a Chinese girl over her bound feet; with Nietzsche I heard Zarathustra’s words “Become who you are”. All of these molded the naïve character of a young girl who wanted to change the world so badly she could not go to sleep at nights, thinking how she can carve her mark somewhere out there.
I walked down a path, which began in Tehran, but I strongly believe that the road will travel all around this world, allowing me to hear many more anecdotes in different tongues from different nationalities. As the great Persian poet, Saadi says:
Of One Essence is the Human Race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base.
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace.
I believe being raised in Iran and my multi-lingual abilities has awarded me with a different discipline - a unique insight towards the international arts and politics, which will be chiseled all along the way with new experiences to achieve, new horizons to explore.
13,000 years ago early human beings left their handprints in the Cuevas de Las Manos, not only as an artistic gesture, but also to cry out “We were here, remember us”. I heard them and I plan to do the same: I want to leave a hand mark, although small or humble, but stentorian and everlasting as time itself. In my stories, Scheherazade will tell the tall tales of one thousand and one nights in Crimea, Tehran and Homs; She will laugh when women in Saudi Arabia gain their rights and will cry for the girl who dreams of a pencil to learn how to read and write. She will stand by me along with thousands of young Iranian men and women, as I put down the first words of the next chapter of my life.