The yellow stick was a banana, a fruit that the poor family had never seen or tasted. Alinejad, the rebel of the lot, didn’t listen when told to throw the skin away; she sneaked it to school the next day to show off to her friends.
She got away with it, but the episode was a precursor of what is to come; hers is a life of rebellions big and small followed by ignominious and sometimes draconian punishments. At 18, Alinejad, who would ultimately rise from her humble beginnings to become one of Iran’s top journalists, is carried off to prison. She has been stealing books and carrying on with a ragtag group of feverish ideologues whose crime is printing pamphlets calling for greater dissent in Iranian society. It is enough to get them all arrested.
When Alinejad is finally let out, she is a changed woman — and not only because of the imprisonment. She is also pregnant, a fact that she discovers during her internment. The father is her fiancé. Iranian marriages are two-part affairs; though the legal portion of theirs is complete, the traditional reception has not taken place, which means her parents regard the couple as just engaged. Her pregnancy, therefore, is a scandal. Alinejad, stubborn as well as rebellious, is not terribly bothered. “I still don’t want a wedding. I hate weddings,” she insists to her father when she finds out about the rushed face-saving feast he has arranged. “It’s not for you,” he tells her. “The wedding is for the family, to show that we have raised a fine daughter, even though you’ve given us so much grief.”
There is more grief on the way. The marriage, which gets Alinejad out of the tiny village of Ghomikola, does not last. Her poet-husband runs off to marry a woman he met at a literary salon, leaving Alinejad alone with a small child in Tehran. At the divorce trial, the odds are stacked against her. “I don’t want his money,” she proudly tells the judge, refusing the alimony that is due her. He denies her custody of her 3-year-old son anyway. “I was all by myself,” she writes. “It was September 2000, a week before my 24th birthday.”
Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights
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