I am Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26 years old. I am closer to death than any other time in my life. I am not afraid of death. A few years ago, all my worldly belongings were brought here: atop a bunk bed in Shahre-Ray prison. I have no attachments to this world; my only wish is that my mother and father forget all about me.
This world, both its beauty and ugliness, are for those who adore it. I have never wanted to commit suicide; not before prison and certainly not after it. All I am saying is that I am not attached to this world. Just like one does not have a particular bond to a piece of clothing; you can change it or even throw it out without sadness. Life is much like that for me-a piece of clothing that covers my body regardless of its quality and beauty. Life in this world is like clothes…all different colors.
Everyone is waking up right now in this prison and so everything starts all over again. Last night I could not sleep as I was going over and over of what happened to me that day.
On July 7, 2007 I was frozen in that chair, I could not move. Even now that I am writing this I am soaked in sweat. My legs were frozen, I could not run; he was extremely close to me. Suddenly I got up, turned the door knob but it was locked. I could not get out. I banged on the door. I tried to scream but my voice was not coming out. He was mocking me with his eyes. He said:” where are you going to go? You can only leave here when I want you to leave.”
I was moving around but he was still. My back was against the entrance, I was facing him. He started to look bigger and bigger to me, even his arms looked huge. I was getting smaller and smaller in that room. I was wearing a black scarf and a long jacket with overlapping collar. Underneath I was just wearing a top. How I wish it was winter so I would have had a thick coat on so I would not have been able to feel the heat from his hands when he touched me. He pulled at my collar. I hit his hand. He caught my hand in mid air when I think I scratched him but I am not sure exactly where. His face turned totally red. He put both his arms around my body; his arms encircled my entire body. I wished my arms were free and that he had grabbed me under my arms not over them so I could hit him with my hands on his chest. But I only managed to hit him on his stomach. I had never thought about how important hands were until that moment, about how much I needed them. He lifted me up and with half a turn put me down on the floor. I only managed a whimper; nothing else was coming out of my throat. He put his arms around my waste. The movement of his hands on my body grossed me out. “You are stuck now, aren’t you”? He said. “I am going to take care of you…” he added. His voice was so close, in my ears. Sweat was dripping on my neck from my head. With one hand he grabbed my waste and with the other he pulled my head back by pulling my hair. He then put his cheeks against mine and emphasized:” No one is here…no one can hear you.”
Anytime I think of my hopes and dreams, I start to cry. When I fall sleep thinking of the hopes I had for my future, I dream of myself on my wedding day wearing a white dress. Then slowly the dress turns from white to black, my eye makeup looks like I have been crying, my face is covered with black tulle and I see myself holding a bouquet of dried up dead flowers. I have never told a soul about this until now. No one knows how I was forced to give up the love of my life. I had to. When I was nineteen I had no idea that my life would go up in smoke in that house and that a few years later, the courts would decide to make me into ashes.
That day, when I was nineteen; I could hear him breathing in my ear. He had me pinned down. I could not move, I had surrendered like a small lamb. I was angry with myself that I could not manage to scream. If you catch a bird in your hands, it will try to fight but it will eventually stop fighting when you hold both of its wings. All you will hear is the bird’s heartbeat in your hand because it has surrendered to its fate.
Then I suddenly started thinking of how in love I was with A. I remember how happy I had been when my mother had told me that soon we should have a wedding in our house. We invited many friends and family when my uncle and his wife were visiting us. That night we had a party where A was formally introduced to my uncle. I was so ecstatic when my uncle referred to A as the groom of the family. I could not contain my joy. I remember back when I was starting to choose a husband, my boss had introduced his son to me by phone. His son lived in Canada. After a few text messages and phone conversations I realized I did not like him for marriage. So I said yes to A’s marriage proposal. My father was uneasy with me getting married. He believed women should finish their studies and only get married when they can stand on their own feet. My father asked was that we got to know each other well. My mother’s younger brother, gave me some advice that would come back to haunt me later in my trial. He said if I really wanted to know A, I should see how he reacts in anger and that I should make him angry on purpose and study his reaction. Just for fun I did make A angry a few times. I had no idea that those incident s would come up in my trial later saying that I hated my fiancé. I was only 19 years old. I was so inexperienced that I had no idea how that sort of thing would impact the future. The very future that I would never be allowed to have.
Then suddenly I saw a knife. I told him to please let me go and I would not breathe a word. He moved away a bit and asked me:” let you leave?….hah…where?” I kept thinking of A which gave me courage and strength. We were staring at one other straight in the eye. He said:” what? you are going to stab me? Seriously? Go ahead…do it.” He turned his back to me and taunted me:” Go, hit me…I want to see how you do it.” I felt so small. I put my head down. He yelled at me:” Go ahead do it.” I felt helpless. I looked the knife. It was too small to even scare him. He was laughing. I started to run through a small kitchen that had an attached balcony. He yelled: “we still have time.” I opened the balcony door and thought of jumping. I looked down. I imagined what it would be like. I could not bring myself to jump.
I went back in. He was by the TV where there was a prayer mat. He said:” what are you doing?” I begged him to let me go. I told him he was a religious man and to not do this to me. He told me to stop playing games and that it was nothing. I started crying which I hated to do. Then he said I was depressing him. I told him that I swore and promised I would not tell anyone if he just let me go. He started to move towards me, I moved back, he moved forward, I moved back some more. I told him to stop or I would stab him. He said:” why don’t you do it already?” I positioned the knife in my hand. He got angry and said:” you are just pretending….why are you pretending…you can’t do anything?” I had finally found my voice, I yelled at him to move back, he did not. I yelled that I would stab him. He turned red and said:” go ahead do it,” I was breathing very shallow, there was not enough air. I raised my hand and with all my hopes and dreams in my mind I stabbed him. He turned around in shock and asked:” did you stab me…?” I could see blood coming on his clothes. I told him to let me take out the knife. He turned around and went the other way. In a panic, I started to look for the key to let me out of the apartment [on the table.] I looked at him. He was sitting on the floor. He pulled out the knife out of his back.
The blood splattered on the mirror and on the fan. I saw blood flying around in the air. He was leaning against the wall. He threw the knife at me but I ducked. He missed. I picked up the knife. He then started to get up from the floor by using the chair. His hands were drenched in blood. He picked up the chair and threw it at me. It landed, made a terrible loud noise and broke into pieces. I had never seen blood before that day nor had I heard such fighting and yelling. I had never been in such a situation before.
Again I could not scream; my voice froze again. He was extremely angry. He came at me and punched with his bloodied hand. I ran towards the door and tried opening it by stabbing the door. It was locked. Then I heard the sound of key turning in the door. I was kicking the door. The door opened. It was Shaikhi, the man for whom I would later be beaten and tortured, whose face I still remember in the door frame; the man who I had always known as Sarbandi’s shadow as they were always together. He asked what was going on. But I ran out of the door, because now there were two of them and they would surely kill me. I did not wait for the elevator; I took the 7-8 stairs down. I could hear Sarbandi running out after me yelling: ’’Thief…thief……” Then I heard the elevator door open and I ran in. As the elevator door was closing I saw Shaikhi leaving the apartment with some documents in his hands. I do not know whether he went upstairs or downstairs.
When I arrived on the street, I rubbed my hands on my black coat. I dialed the paramedics and told them there had been an incident. When the ambulance arrived I saw a woman in her fifties with a cream color coat going around the ambulance and crying. The ambulance door closed and it left. I knew that he would be okay because the Mehrdad Hospital was very close, so close that if you cut your artery, you would arrive there before you bled to death. I took down the number of the ambulance.
My phone rang -it was my mother. I was in a taxi with the knife in my purse. She was angry that I had not been home earlier as we were supposed to go out together. She had wanted me to go home early. I had tried to move the meeting with Sarbandi to the next day but he refused as he said he had to travel the next day to England or Spain, I cannot remember which. I had told my mother not to worry, that either Sarbandi or Shaikhi would drop me off. I told her I would be home soon.
I have not seen my house for so long now. I miss all aspects of my house: its fragrance, kitchen, light, warmth, windows, walls and silence. I must admit I miss home a lot, a home that many women in prison have never experienced.
End of Part 2