Noilly Prattle: Persian Odyssey: Part VI – The Revolution Catches up to Me

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Persian Odyssey: Part VI – The Revolution Catches up to Me

As I left Hamadan I reflected on how idyllic my journey had seemed so far. The bike seemed to be running smoothly and I had been treated like visiting royalty by my student's family. The echoes of the Islamic revolution seemed far behind me, it was summer, the sun was shining and I headed for the next stop on my itinerary, Kermanshah, and my second visit with the family of another student. I looked forward to another “banquet in my honor” although I could do without the preliminary butchery, but kept my camera at the ready—just in case.

The relatively short ride from Hamadan to Kermanshah was uneventful and I soon met up with the second of my students (a Kurd) following prearranged directions. We then proceeded to his home to meet the family. They were polite and correct but I sensed a subtle difference, an uneasiness, a tension in the air from what I had experienced in Hamadan. A discrete time after the introductions and formalities I suggested to my student that we go out for a walk and take in some of the sights of Kermanshah. Again, I sensed a certain nervousness and hesitation, but he agreed and out we went.  

The sound of something not being said began to seem deafening in my ears. It wasn't long before it became abundantly clear what that “sound of silence” was all about. The downtown area of Kermanshah looked like a combat zone. There were fire and smoke blackened storefronts with blown out plate glass windows. Shattered glass and rubble covered the sidewalks and crunched under the soles of our shoes, or, in my case, motorcycle boots. The place looked deserted. There seemed to be no one else about besides the two of us. My student finally broke his silence and, stating the now obvious, told me that there had been trouble just the night before: rebel firebombings and shooting between them and the loyalists in the streets, but that it was quiet today—so far. I realized that being in my company under the circumstances placed him in danger as well as myself, so I insisted that we return to his house and I would leave immediately so that his family would not become a focus of suspicion for housing the “enemy”--Americans who supported the Shah's government. Naturally, I was guilty by association and citizenship, not to mention my job sub-contracted to the Shah's army airforce.

It was rather late in the afternoon by the time we got back to his house and I began to get the bike ready for immediate departure. Meanwhile, he conferred with his family and explained my position and decision to leave immediately. The family, however, were opposed to my leaving at that late hour saying that it would not be safe for me to be out alone at night as trouble could start up again at any moment. It would be better, they said, for me to stay the night and leave in the morning in the full light of day. Again, I protested that my presence in their house placed them in a dangerous position, but they said that they could not, in good conscience, let an honored guest take the risk of going out alone in the existing situation. I took this concern for my safety to be the equivalent of the previous “banquet in my honor” and gratefully acquiesced to their request. In truth, I had not been all that crazy about the idea of leaving alone in the dark with the revolution snapping at my heels.  

public domain photo taken during Islamic revolution-summer 1978
(courtesy of Wikipedia)

To be continued...


Noilly Prattle said...

Memo to myself: check comments to see if they work after revamping the look of the blog.

Noilly Prattle said...

Yup, it works fine.