Please deliver this letter to Saeed Malekpour.
Address: Solitary Confinement Division, Evin Prison, Tehran.
Hello dear Saeed,
I am writing this letter to you in hope that somehow you will be able to read it.
“Ali Hassan Zadeh”
In 1989, Imam Sadegh High School, Grade 9, Tehran
You were the tallest boy in the class and used to sit at the back of the class, timid and polite. You came from a gifted-student Guidance School to the high school as a distinguished student. You always had a pleasant smile on your face. Remember, we had to eat our lunch at recess time in the school and everyone wanted to be around you, as we knew how generous you were. We used to play basketball in the school. Maybe you don’t remember that you taught me how to play basketball and I taught you mountain climbing. Regret that you have been in jail among those memorable mountain skirts for the last two years.
Good days, cold mornings, in student line shouting slogans against the USA till our voices were hoarse and how certain we were at what we were doing.
How sinful we felt when going to Ziarat Ashura prayer and could not cry. Because we were told only sinners do not cry at the presence of their God and we dug through our past in vain to find those sins we had apparently committed.
Today, the day that I am writing this letter for you is Tasua, a day before the commemoration of Ashura, and I know how much you admired the way the Abadanis mourn and grieve.
Now I am in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia and you in Evin Prison, innocent far from our lives and dears.
In 1992, we were participating in the national Physical and Mathematical Olympiad in Alborz high school, the school that had rejected accepting me without proper reasoning, despite the fact that I had passed their entrance exam. We had to prepare six months for the Olympiad to finally be able to do the six-question, six-hour long exam.
Despite me being the best student in the school, I was dismissed from the school simply because I use to play sports, and that supposedly meant I was not Muslim enough. That happened to others too, to the point that four 45-student classes of grade nine shrunk to three classes with twenty students in grade 12. But you stayed there because you were considered as a complete Muslim, even in the eyes of one of the strictest principles, Mr. Muslim Nazari. Incidentally, he is still the principle of Emam Sadegh high school, in Azadi Square. Indeed, strictly religious students still go to this school, shorthaired students with long sleeved, loose fitting shirts, buttoned to the top and worn untucked with dark socks. That school still denies those students who are not Muslim enough, who play sports, read poems and like white socks.
Nazari still thinks that his people were the only kind under missile attack during the Iran-Iraq war, but we were safe as we were on the enemy’s side. He still discriminates between his war martyrs and those martyrs who were from my neighborhood in Fallah district because they played sports.
Saeed, what are you laughing at? You are asking whether this is truly a letter or in fact a threnody to our lives. You are right.
You, unfaithful, left me all alone after you were accepted to Sharif University. Who was I going to share my stories and sorrows with then? Six months later you found me while I was preparing for the university entrance exam and you were the one who motivated and inspired me. I got accepted to the same major as you, Metallurgic Engineering, and I knew you would be my best guide on this journey.
Good days! What beautiful mountains we climbed together, Samamus, Shah Albor, Geno, Talijan, Lapaser, Touchal, Shervin, Sang Siah, Dar Abad. How many times we went to Usan and Shirpala and how many times to Darake and Palangchal.
The revolutionary guardians used to search everybody’s backpack at the base of the mountain to find prohibited items such as alcohol and we were always exempted due to our innocent looks. Young guys were there with their spouses or girlfriends but our girlfriends were teapots and a mat to rest on.
I never understood why you did not ever talk about girls and their affairs until you met Zohreh, but you always listened to my stories about how much I loved a girl in my neighborhood.
Remember the days we got passionately into playing cards and I had to beat you even by cheating. Remember Shelem? “You cut.”, you said. “You really do not have a card.”, you said. “No.”, I roared. Not long after the game was finished, you discovered that I actually had cheated and chased me to beat me up and we ended up laughing our heads off.
Talking about chess, you read every existing book on the subject and playing chess with you had become a nightmare for everybody. You were looking for a rival who could compete with you and you finally did, “Zohreh”. You had found your soul mate, and next following the stereotype of university classmates getting engaged and then married. I was still single until God sent me a gift, Hedieh, whose name also happens to mean ‘gift’ in Persian.
It was time to find a job, I started working in a mine in Soongon, Ahar and you worked in Garma Felez and an Aluminum manufacturer in Dorood, Khoramabad before you moved to Iran Khodro, Tehran. It was such hard work and you worked long hours to overcome the expenses of a newly established life until you got sick and were admitted to hospital. You even helped me and Ali Koochakzadeh, who later became your brother-in-law, to find a job in your company.
I should confess that I was so attracted to your attitude and nobility that I wanted to marry one of your relatives. I asked your permission to marry your sister and you said we were not suitable for each other.
The day that I shared the news with you that I got accepted in MSc at Sharif University, you told me that Zohreh got an offer from a university in Canada and you were getting ready to leave the country. Even though you very busy packing up your life, you worked until the last day to serve your country. I used to laugh at you for not taking the opportunity to take a rest before your departure.
I knew how much you loved Iran and how hard it was for you to leave your family behind. This indeed happened to me too. If Zohreh had a better horizon for her career in Iran, I am sure you would have never left the country. I could not properly take care of your family as I should have and had promised you.
Your first trip back to Iran, you came to our house for dinner and we looked at all the old pictures. We spent the entire night driving around the city and reminiscing. You talked about Canada, its cold weather, its burdens and orderliness. You did not recommend it to us, but emphasized the need to learn English. I asked you if you needed financial help and you said the scholarship money Zohreh earns was enough for your simple life. You were hoping to get a scholarship to pursue your studies but not in metallurgic engineering anymore, rather in computer science, your passion in life.
You told me that there was a beautiful trail close to your house where you ran everyday. Your health was better and, thank God, you didn’t even catch cold once.
A year passed and on the day I took Hanna, my daughter you have not met yet, for vaccination, I heard that you came to Iran to bid farewell to your dad who was on his deathbed. Shockingly, you were arrested. We did not know the reason, but were not worried either, as we knew you were innocent and they were going to release you soon. It was before the controversial 2009 presidential election and we were not that pessimistic, so we waited for you to come home.
One month, two months, three months, one year and two years !!!!!!! Confined without court order!!
We got very scared and I kept hoping that they had kept you to make use of your knowledge in computer science.
I read the letter you wrote from prison. I heard your voice. I even saw your confession on national TV. I listened carefully to your confession. When you lie, the corners of your lips move down, like you are trying to swallow your laughs. I know you very well. I know that the symbol of great grief appears as a smile on your face. You laugh all the time unless your heart is broken, then you frown and make wrinkles on your forehead.
I heard that you stand accused of action against national security and the Islamic Republic, and collaboration with the opposition.
I remember the day that we were sitting together in Abzoghalchal and I was stoning birds. You blasted me “Shame on you. What do you have to with birds? You have no right to harm them.” you said.
How can you now take action against national security?
No, I do not believe this.
You couldn’t even get your own money back from your landlord when you were leaving the country. Now you stand accused of subversion against the state and insulting Islam!
No, I do not believe this.
I have heard that they have accused you of developing pornography websites. Is nobody there to tell them that your most immoral friend was me whose biggest sin was falling in love with a girl in his neighborhood? The friend who could not even express his feeling to her because it was not in accordance with Islam? The first women of our lives were indeed our wives. I would believe them if they accused you of developing sports websites, tour guide websites, brain games, and so on.
Since seeing the news of your court, I can neither sleep nor eat. I can neither work on my PhD thesis nor exercise. At nights I pray for you and spend the day surfing the internet with the hope of reading good news about your case.
In April 2010, I came to Iran to sort out my emotional burdens. I wanted to come and visit you in the prison but it was not feasible. I came and stood by the wall of the prison. One day I went to Darake. From the first step I took, I reminisced about our walks up HaftHoz, Omran and Abzoghalchal. It was both nostalgic and melancholic without you. I could see the future of other people there, which deepened my grief even more. They were all happy. But you could no longer hear the loud voice of forbidden music anymore. Zohreh was not there to whisper Quran. You were not there either to whistle the song ‘From The Northland’ with me. I was alone with a lot of memories and a broken heart. You were very close to me at the base of the mountain in the loneliness of your cell, in Evin behind bars. I, who was leaving the country to return to Malaysia, felt imprisoned, and those people still living in Iran felt imprisoned too.
You are confined and cannot do much and people who are free cannot either. Their prison is their heart and your prison is very small for your great heart.
I will come to Iran again in April 2011, to stay, and tell those who think you developed obscene websites who you are and how you think. I will tell them whatever I know about you. You are the proud child of Iran and you should be proud of yourself and tell them all about your accomplishments. This time I will be your mouth and I will show them all my pictures taken with you.
I will tell them that you and I translated the Thermodynamic book by David Gaskell to Persian and solved all the problems. This took us six months of our lives after graduation. I have still the hand scripts. It was immature not to publish it.
I will tell them that you are not political and have no clue about politics.
I will tell them that in 1997, when nobody knew anything about metallurgical simulation, you and Dr. Davami modeled the casting phenomenon, a part of which won the Kharazmi prize. Today, one of the outcomes of your research work is called SUTCAST.
I will tell them that when everybody studied metallurgical phenomena with microscopes, you developed modeling software that was able to evaluate microscopical pictures of metallurgical samples. This was the start of me teaching application of computers in metallurgical engineering, after 11 years in Ollom and Tahghighat.
I will tell them that 15 years ago you were trying to develop an antivirus for computers when Windows was not on the market.
I will tell them that you are my best friend and I am proud of you.
I do not know what the people who did this to you truly worship, but if they asked me who I worship, I would tell them I believe in God and prophet Mohammad and Imams, and if I wanted to give an example of a saintly person I would exclaim:
Ali Hassan Zadeh Lileh Koohi
PhD candidate – UPM
Dec 15th, 2010