And I just try to take a few deep breaths to calm myself down. so I can take control of my actions. I feel the revolutionary vehicle I am in makes a U-turn, as I’m lean (as the gravity pushes me to lean) towards my right side.
‘Ok’ says one of the guys in the car. You can now bring your head up. No looking right or left though. Just bring your head up and look straight. Do you understand?
I nod. I look ( I bring my head up slowly ) and look straight just like I’m told. I see the vehicle enters a boy’s elementary school. The car enters the parking and I begin hearing boy’s hubbub coming from those classrooms. There are a few little boys playing at the school’s playground. Why am I brought to a boys elementary school? I ask myself. Its probably because one of these revolutionary guards needs to pick his son! ( from the school ). I also have other scenarios circulating in my messed up mind. But I still try to be calm and remember a few Quran verses I have memorised for this particular purpose. The driver whom everyone in the car addresses as ” Seyyed ” pulls the hand brake and the vehicle comes to a halt.
‘Let’s go says Seyyed’. The guy to my left nods and point at the car door. The guy on my right gets out of the car and lights a cigarette immediately. I get out too. The guy on my left has been peeking at me since I am picked up.
‘Who will take him’? Seyyed asks.
The guy who is smoking takes a few quick and deep puffs and drops his cigarette down.
‘I will’ says the guy while he blows the smoke out of his lungs creating a cloud on the air.
The guy who sat next to the driver stretches his muscles and gives me a hateful look. As though I am responsible for all the failure in his miserable life!
‘I’ll come with you’ he says.
I, however, am still wondering why I am brought to a boys elementary school. This place is surely not where they are going to return my passport back to me, I think to myself.
I’m constantly imagining questions I may be asked and I try to find an answer for each particular and possible question. I’m certainly happy that I had three days to grow some beard. But will it make any difference the way I look? Does it change anything? I hope it does. I should first figure out the reason they brought me here!
I want to open up and speak to these revolutionary guards. But none of them looks at me and from the way it appears, they are certainly not going to speak with me. They are not even speaking to each other. I am getting really afraid now. My hand began shaking, again. These guys have no uniforms on. So, I cannot see their names from their uniform’s name tags! I realize I actually know nothing about any of them and that scares me even more. I remember (suddenly) a friend telling me when I was in Dubai, that these revol…. guard agents are very good in making you disappear.
‘Where are we going?’ I ask. I don’t even know why I ask. But no one even looks at me, let alone giving me an answer.
I am escorted to the back of the school building, where I see a normal door, with cream color metal bars and tinted glass. The door looks (appears) to be the entrance and exit to and from the school’s Janitor break room. There’s a doorbell button at the side of the door. One of the guards presses it three times two short times and a long one. It seems that type of ringing the doorbell is some sort of a code or something. I’m still wondering. No one attends to the door. Not physically nor using the intercom. The guard uses his walkie-talkie and informs the guys inside that we are outside waiting. The door opens after a few seconds and I see a very long staircase going down towards a basement. There are little red lamps installed on the wall. Because they want people to see where they are going. But why red lamps installed on the wall. Because they want people to see where they are going. But why red lamps I ask myself again? I’m shaking uncontrollably. I’m scared to death now. Where the hell am I being taken? What the hell is this place? I have a feeling I will be easily killed (executed) without anyone even hearing a scream or a gunshot!
One agent goes downstairs ahead of me and the other one is right behind me with five or six steps difference. The three of us reach the basement. Where I can see another door to my right. The door opens as soon as we take the last stair down. I can see a desk. It is located between the door we entered and a long corridor. I enter the door and see a huge facility building / flat and I realize what a big office has been built under the elementary school, my god! The school building looks so innocent from the outside as every other school does. But there’s a totally different story going on underneath the school. A big corridor with many rooms at its both sides, the space is so big that I should look again to believe what I see! Under the elementary school, there is a huge interrogation space. A whole organisation can operate down here I thought.
A revol…… guard and a ministry of info…. little flags are what catch my attention next. They were on the top of the desk I saw.
‘Salam Alaykom’ (Islamic hello) say both agents to the guy behind the desk. ‘How are you today, Mashdi?’
‘Welcome, welcome’ replies Mashdi, and stands up, comes towards my escorts, shake their hands and hugs them.
Mashdi takes a deep meaningful look at me. He is holding a green folder in his hand that also has the logo of both flags on it, or at least that’s what I see. Mashdi opens the folder, murmurs something, frowns at me again, ‘what’s your name’? Asks Mashdi, ‘huh?’
‘Ben, sir’ I answer politely and Mashdi punches me very heavily suddenly. His fist (Big rough fist) strikes me right on my cheek. Darkness is all that I can see for a few seconds, and a continues whistle is all that I can hear! The taste of my mouth changes. I can now taste my own blood in my mouth. I’m absolutely terrified. What a warm welcome. This is the end I think. I know it already. I am no crumpled on the milky ceramic tiles of the floor. I try to get up.
‘What’s your name?’ Asks Mashdi, again.
‘Ben. G’ I reply and Mashdi attacks me again using his legs instead of his fist. He kicks me three times. Once between my legs followed by two more kicks in my stomach and my chest. I do not feel any pain for some very strange reason. Breathing, however, gets more difficult.
‘Wrong. No. your real name is Traitor to your country says Mashdi, who is now bent towards me. You are Mr. Singer Traitor. The singer is your first name and traitor, is your family name. But, we all know you by Mr. Haram Zadeh (bastard).’ Mashdi then glances at the two guys who are now just enjoying the show.
‘Get up. Bastard’. Say (continues Mashdi) Get up Gharbzadeh (western lover or westerner and west lover)! ‘Go to that washroom, wash up, freshen up so I can send you to “Hadji” for questioning’.
I burst into tears. That might help to make them have mercy on me. I am escorted to the washroom. The guy closes the door on me after I enter and waits outside. I look at the mirror for a while. I cannot even see my own face in the mirror clearly. Not even from that few centimeters, despite the washroom being well-lighted. I don’t know why! I stop crying. I hate myself for showing weakness. But I have no choice! I should make them pity and have mercy on me. I dry my face with the only option available, toilet rolls. My brain does not function or respond properly. My heart beats like a mouse’s heart, fast and heavy. I only think of what is coming next. I also am concerned about the ending, who is Hadji? I ask myself. Is he a violent cruel man too?
The guard opens the door and I step out. I’m escorted to the last room in the corridor and I see rooms at my left and right while walking to Hadji’s room. I can faintly hear a man and a woman’s voice coming from one of those rooms. They are being questioned. They (I can hear them) crying while answering questions. I try to remember everything about my given religion.
We reach the (Hadji’s) door. The guard knocks and a voice shouts enter. The guard opens the door, pushes me in, closes the door and leaves.
‘Salam Alaykum’ (hello-Arabic) I say.
Hadji is writing something. He does not answer me and does not even look at me. I’m standing by the door inside the room, waiting to be told what to do. Every single second feels and passes like hours. Hadji is a Sheikh (Mulla). He has his cloak taken off and is seated at a huge desk. I can see both flags on Hadji’s desk too. There’s also a Quran and some other stationery on his desk, plus a few newspaper pages.
Hadji puts his pen down. Takes a letterhead paper out of his file holder. It has the ministry of information logo on it. He places a pen on the paper.
‘You have acted against the values of our Islamic revolution, you have helped Dubai, which is, in fact, a British colony, to destroy our economy. Your own country’s economy. Then you appeared in Los Angeles televisions singing, which is also Haram (against Islam). You think we don’t know what is going on?’
I’m just standing, still by the door speechless. What is this guy talking about I ask myself? I’m starting to feel the pain now. The pain of the beating is kicking in slowly. The taste of blood is back into my mouth. What have I done to deserve this? Why are they allowed to treat me like this?
‘Come here and sit down says Hadji. We know everything. Just confess. Write a confession if you want your passport back.’
‘But confess what? Sir?’ I ask.
don’t argue with me. Just write down the truth. That you helped west to make Iranian money flood towards Dubai and they were going to make you famous by arranging your appearance in televisions. Write down that they promised to make you a singer if you helped them plan marketing strategies to take all the money out of Iran. To buy properties in Dubai. Write that they are going to make you popular singer if you succeeded. Write and confess you’ve been fooled by foreigners say they had brainwashed you. Write and confess they are and you were enemies of Islam. Then I’ll have you sign a commitment letter, saying you are sorry and remorseful. Say you are never ever going to sing again. That you’ll never be seen in LA based Iranian TV stations, write down and promise that you’ll advertise in Iran for Dubai properties again. I’ll then return your passport.’
I look at Hadji and know I have a very difficult decision to make!