Monday, 31 May 2010
by Jila Baniyaghoob
My dear Bahman returned to Evin prison at 5pm yesterday, with a strong and determined spirit.
Bahman’s return to Evin has a simple story – as simple as Bahman himself; as simple and transparent as his heart that is filled with kindness; in his own words, ‘as a simple as a man from the Lor [tribe].’
This is how the story begins: On 29 May, a man who introduced himself as an agent from the Prosecutor’s Office at Evin called Bahman on the phone and said: ‘You must return to Evin. You’re already late.’
Bahman was at the dentist’s when his mobile phone rang. He had been to the Prosecutor’s Office at Evin a few weeks earlier to find out when he had to return to prison. ‘When it’s the time for you to return,’ they had said, ‘we’ll call you. There’s no need for you to come to us.’ Now, Mr Prosecutor’s Office Agent had called Bahman to say he had to return to Evin immediately.
That agent is really nobody, I say to myself. But what about those who do make the decisions? Can’t they let a prisoner know a week, or even a few days, earlier that his leave will come to an end on such and such a date?
This, of course, is what happens to political prisoners, not to those who’re in jail on drugs charges, or for burglary or embezzlement. Non-political prisoners know when their leave will end. It’s only the political prisoners who, as far as the officials are concerned, have nothing serious to do with their lives or their families, and don’t have any plans.
For some time, our small apartment had developed plumbing problems. Water had been leaking and the floor covering had been damaged. A few days ago things got so bad that we decided to do the necessary repair works. When we turned the place over for repair, Bahman thought of covering the walls with wallpaper at little cost so that, in his words, the very small apartment would become a little more pleasant.
Now, imagine that on exactly the same time when our place is in a total mess and builders are at work, Bahman is called to be told to return to prison on the very same day. All Bahman could tell the agent from Evin was that he would go back not on the same day, but the day after. This was because he had decided both to accompany me to the court and also, in his words, to sort out the apartment as fast as possible.
This is why he worked on the apartment overnight, until the morning of the day he had to return to prison. He had also asked the builders to come over in the morning and work fast so he could go to prison in the evening on 30 May, leaving our house in proper shape. Unfortunately, he could not do that.
Many friends of ours would call us to say they would not come over to our place to say farewell so Bahman and I could spend the last few hours together, because no one knew when Bahman would be back again. I would thank them, without saying that in the last few hours Bahman was running around to clean up our furniture that was covered in dust; to dust off the curtains; to pull cartons of books from one end of the house to another so that perhaps he could put them back on the bookshelf; and to do so many other things.
He’s sweating and at the same time constantly looking at his watch to make sure he’s not going to be late at the prison. He has told the agent from the prosecutor’s office that he would be back at 6pm, and wants to make sure that he would be outside Evin’s big doors before the hands of the clock cross over 6pm.
He looks at his watch so many times that little Amir who’s come over to say farewell to his uncle says: ‘Uncle Bahman, what’s the rush about going to prison?’
All Bahman’s efforts to sort out our little house fail. ‘Dear Jila,’ he says, ‘please forgive me for going to prison and leaving all the work for you to do.’
I wonder what I can say in reply. Shall I tell Bahman that his apology makes it sound as if he’s going on a picnic, leaving me with all the work? Or that it is his decision to leave me alone? I know that none of these will persuade him to change his words.
All I can come with is to tell him: ‘Don’t worry. Actually, this is much better because there’s so much to keep me busy and make it easier to cope with your absence.’