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Ramin's Story

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June 18, 1974

My name is Ramin, and I live in Iran. I’ve decided to keep this journal to record my brother’s growth and my family’s life as a whole. I won’t be adding to it every day though since that would probably bore the reader to the bone (hardly anything interesting happens here unless you like legos). I’ll be adding to it once a year every summer on June the nineteenth with some help from my parents.

June 19, 1974

Yesterday, my baby brother was born. He was very pink and a bit skinny. My parents say he weighs around four pounds, two pounds lighter than I was. I really like my little brother. His eyes are still closed, but I can already see his soft brown eyes quietly blinking above his smiling mouth. His hair is black, and the doctor says it will be straight and short. I wonder about his legs though. They are very small, even for a baby I think. I asked my parents about those legs but they didn’t say anything. As my dad and I left the room into the dimly lit hall, I snuck a look backwards and saw the doctor frowning over them.

June 19, 1975

Something is definitely wrong with my brother’s legs. He’s already one year old, but his legs are still very small. He loves to move but because of his legs he can only crawl. I don’t know why, but it makes me sad when I see him crawling on the floor with his limp legs trailing behind him.

June 19, 1976

I just got home with my parents and brother from dinner out in town. We were celebrating my brother’s second birthday. It wasn’t a very warm or friendly dinner since we went to one of the cheaper restaurants where adult plates were only 5 Tumans each. The fidgety waiter didn’t know what the dishes were made of and what they tasted like. There was also a group of hairy, dark-eyed men glaring at us from a table in one of the corners. I glared too, but only at my food which was composed of two kababs with vegetables and some rice. My brother acted very calm though and, I must say, interesting. Under the yellow lights his face was slightly smiling as he gazed around with those soft, brown eyes of his. He calmly looked all around the room, his gaze peacefully passing over the waiter, the empty tables, and, surprisingly, the evil-eyed men. I snuck in a quick side glance at the men and saw one of them turn away slightly embarrassed when Ali stared unflinchingly at them. My parents took us back to the apartments around nine o’clock at night. As we walked home, they were whispering to each other about some type of uprising and war. They also said something about the scary men at the place we ate dinner at. I didn’t hear much though because I was already half asleep when we left the restaurant building.

June 19, 1977

Ali, my baby brother, has a new wheelchair! My parents just couldn’t keep carrying him around so they decided to save up money and buy him a wheelchair. He was beaming with his sparkling brown eyes as he was being placed in the chair. He tried a couple runs with it around the room but eventually got sleepy. Mother gently picked him up and lay him down on the couch when she saw him start to drowse. It’s late now and I’m feeling a bit tired too. I’ll write more next year.

June 19, 1978

Ali and I were going down the sidewalk near our home today when we saw a large group of people marching up the road across the river. They all seemed very annoyed and some were shouting angry words. The shouts were all mixed together so I could only hear parts here and there like “Down with-fools!-Shah!” and “We want-our voice!-republic!” We were about to cross the bridge and join the crowd to see what was going on when father walked up the road from work and shouted at us to come quickly and avoid the crowd. When we were safely huddled together inside the apartment he told us that joining the crowd would have been very dangerous for us.

“My coworkers tell me that the crowds are protesting against the Shah,” he told mother. “They also tell me that people caught in the crowds have been killed by soldiers. Something is happening, and I don’t like it.”

June 19, 1979

My whole family was in the apartment today. It was a very damp, cloudy day, not good for anything outside. We were all just enjoying each others’ company and laughing over some jokes when all of a sudden we heard gunshots and shouting outside. I walked to the window to see what was going on, but my mother pulled the sleeve of my shirt so I had to sit down beside her.

“Ashkan, go lock the door.”

Father quickly stood and locked the door. He was worried too. Ali just sat there quietly staring at us and our expressions. I asked mother what was going on and why there were gunshots. She told me not to worry.

“Everything will be alright if we stay together,” she said.

There were more gunshots outside and this time we heard someone shriek in pain. There was running and more shouting, but the noises were going away farther down the street. My father was right, something is happening and it’s not good.

June 19, 1980

My family and I are running away right now. A week after the shooting beneath our window, the owner of the apartment told everybody to leave and find somewhere safe. The apartments are dangerous for people to stay in now with the revolution. I don’t know where we’re going, but we’ve been moving farther and farther away from our old home. We’ve repeatedly heard gunshots and seen dead bodies scattered on the ground. Ali is feeling sick and I’m feeling confused. My father and mother are both staying near us and making sure we aren’t wandering. I hope everything turns out okay.

June 19, 1981

Lost. I feel hopelessly lost. Mother said that everything would be alright if we stayed together, but how can you feel safe when there is nobody to be with you? I am the only one left of my family. The rest were shot dead. We were walking down the street with some soldiers off to our right when all of a sudden five men to the left pulled out guns and shot down three of the soldiers. We were running by then but more guerilla fighters and soldiers were appearing. It was all very quick and I felt extremely weak and helpless. Father glanced over his back and then quietly gave a look at mother who was with me farther up the road screaming at them to hurry. They were too slow. Father was shot in the back by guerilla fighters. He didn’t even shout, just slumped on the ground his hands still on the wheelchair, turning it over sideways. Mother ran screaming to Ali as he crawled towards her, but she was riddled with bullets before she could reach him. I stared at Ali, paralyzed with terror. I saw his brown eyes wide with fear as he stared at the road ahead of him where mother lay bleeding. Two seconds later, I saw him sprawled dead on the ground. I didn’t wait, I just ran. I ran away from the pain. I ran away from the fighters who were searching for me. I am hiding inside a broken truck in the outskirts of the city, but what does it matter? I have nothing now. My days are spent in hunger and I can always hear gunshots coming from the city. I can’t keep from wondering why they killed my parents and brother. My brother, I can still see him gasping for air as he desperately crawls up the asphalt road towards our mother. I try to recall his beautiful brown eyes but cannot help seeing them the way they were after he was killed: frozen and lifeless. Whenever I think of my parents to get at least some measure of comfort, I only see them shaking against the cold, gray sky as the bullets shatter their bodies.





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