PART VII: We are not dirt and dust, we are the nation of Iran

Saturday, 20 June 2009

I’ve seen that stare before . . .

‘DON’T BE AFRAID, NEDA! Don’t be afraid!’ What I see in those brown eyes staring at me is far from fear or pain. I know that look, I’ve seen it somewhere. I press harder at the wound on her chest, below the neck, where the blood is gushing out like lava from an angry volcano.

It’s her aorta !Shit!

As if disappointed at my inadequate response, her dark and lovely eyes turn towards the lens of Emad’s new camera-phone. He’s been bragging about it for days now, trying to convince me of its virtues.

‘Stay, Neda!’ cries the old man beside her, ‘STAY WITH ME!’

She’s not going to stay with anyone. She’s leaving, that’s for sure. I have an instinct for seeing death sucking out life and my ears are trained to hear the sound of Death’s breathing. I have, quite literally, seen thousands of deaths.

Her lungs too . . .

Blood pours from her mouth and nose.

‘Turn her head!’ I shout to old man with the ponytail and the blue striped T-shirt.

‘Open her mouth! Open the airways!’ I command.

Her father, I guess, though later I find out he is her music teacher; he is teaching her how to sing, how to have a voice, despite the ban on women singing.

Her blood circulation is slowing down. Her body is slowly being drained of blood.

My god, I’ve seen this look before but where?

‘Someone take her to a hospital!’ I cry out, although I know that no one can save her.

The blood pours out of her nose and mouth and drowns an eye. I can see Emad’s knees trembling while he records the calmness seeping into those eyes.

I remember it now . . . It’s the gaze of the gazelle . . . My gazelle, the one waiting for the hunter to approach, in my book.

The heart gives up. There’s no more blood left to pump. The gaze drowns in blood, in the three-decade old pain of a nation.

‘My child!’ the old man wails. ‘My child! Motherfuckers!’

I lean back against the wall, soaked in Neda’s blood. A Peugeot 206 arrives. People help the old man carry the lifeless body into the car which then races away to find a hospital in the faint hope that she may be saved.

I’m numb and Emad is very near collapse. My friend Hassan runs to me. ‘What does she need?’ he asks, his eyes filled with horror. ‘What can I do to help?’

‘Nothing,’ I say quite calmly. ‘She’s dead.’