The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.
You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.
Mahshid: You mean you don't have any sense of belonging here? I seem to be the only one who feels she owes something to this place.
Mitra: I can't live with this constant fear, with having to worry all the time about the way I dress or walk. Things that come naturally to me are considered sinful, so how am I supposed to act?
Mahshid: But you know what is expected of you, you know the laws. This is nothing new. What has changed? Why is it bothering you so much more now?
Sanaz: Maybe for you, it is easier...
Mahshid: You think I have it easy? Do you think only people like you suffer in this country? You don't even know what fear is. Just because of my faith and the fact that I wear the veil, you think that I don't feel threatened? You think I don't feel fear? It's rather superficial, isn't it, to think that the only kind of fear is your kind.
Sanaz: I didn't mean that. The fact that we know about these laws, the fact that they are familiar, doesn't make them any better. It doesn't mean that we don't feel the pressure and the fear. But for you, at least, wearing the veil is natural; it's your religion, your choice.
Mahshid: My choice. What else do I have but my religion, and if I lose that...
Yassi: I know what Mahshid's talking about. The worst fear you can have is losing your faith. Because then you're not accepted by anyone-not by those who consider themselves secular or by people of your own faith. It's terrible. Mahshid and I have been talking about that, about how ever since we could remember, our religion has defined every single action we've taken. If one day I lose my faith, it will be like dying and having to start new again in a world without guarantee.
Modern fiction brings out the evil in domestic lives, ordinary relations, people like you and me-Reader! Bruder! as Humbert said. Evil in Austen, as in most great fiction, lies in the inability to “see” others, hence to empathize with them. What is frightening is that this blindness can exist in the best of us (Eliza Bennet) as well as the worst (Humbert). We are all capable of becoming the blind censor, of imposing our visions and desires on others.
We were unhappy. We compared our situation to our own potentials, to what we could have had, and somehow there was little consolation in the fact that millions of people were unhappier than we were. Why should other people’s misery make us happier or more content?
I had come to a conclusion: our culture shunned sex because it was too involved with it. It had to suppress sex violently, for the same reason that an impotent man will put his beautiful wife under lock and key. We had always segregated sex from feeling and from intellectual love, so you were either pure and virtuous…or dirty and fun. What was alien to us was eros, true sensuality.
You’re worried about our brutal thoughts against “them”…but you know most of the stories you hear about the jails are true. The worst was when they called people’s names in the middle of the night. We knew they had been picked for execution. They would say good-bye, and soon after that, we would hear the sound of bullets. We would know the number of people killed on any given night by counting the single bullets that inevitably came after the initial barrage. There was one girl there-her only sin had been her amazing beauty. They brought her in on some trumped-up immorality charge. They kept her for over a month and repeatedly raped her. They passed her from one guard to another. That story got around jail very fast, because the girl wasn’t even political; she wasn’t with the political prisoners. They married the virgins off to the guards, who would later execute them. The philosophy behind this act was that if they were killed as virgins, they would go to heaven. You talk of betrayals. Mostly they forced those who had “converted” to Islam to empty the last round into the heads of their comrades as tokens of their new loyalty to the regime.
Lolita belongs to a category of victims who have no defense and are never given a chance to articulate their own story. As such, she becomes a double victim: not only her life but also her life story is taken from her.