Escape From Iran
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by Darius Radmanesh
Description: Born in 1969 in Kirksville, Missouri to a Cherokee mother and an Iranian father, Darius Radmanesh spent the first nine years of his life like any other precocious boy growing up in small town America. In 1978, Darius's father moved the family to Iran where their lives were forever changed by the Islamic Revolt of 1979. Raised as a Christian, Darius and his family endured appalling incidents inflicted by the Iranian government while dodging attacks from Iraqi bomber raids. At the age of sixteen, Darius was yanked off the street by members of the Iranian Islamic Guard (Hezbolah) and sent to the front lines to fight. With the assistance of an Iranian Major, Darius was able to elude his subjugators and escape into the mountains where he found refuge amongst the Qashqai nomads. Darius eventually linked up with the U.S. State Department and was smuggled out of Iran through the Persian Gulf, and on to Dubai and the American Consulate. From there, Darius returned to his American homeland, the boy now a war-wearied man. Darius is committed to raising awareness regarding the imminent global-threat posed by the corrupt, Iranian regime and the plight of the Iranian people. He currently resides in London with his wife and four-year-old son.
eBook Publisher: Charles River Press, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: July 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [177 KB]
Reading time: 123-172 min.
This book is dedicated to the freedom movement of the Iranian people.
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The Promise to St. Catherine
From the prophet Muhammad:
"This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, damage it, or carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)."
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This story is a reflection on the many hardships and tragedies my family and I were forced to endure both during and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. After nine years of captivity under the new regime, we were finally able to escape in 1987 with the help of the U.S State Department. While my little sister Tina and my mother, Linda McKim, fled to Sweden, my father went to Turkey, and finally I myself escaped across the Persian Gulf to Dubai. I was then taken to the U.S Embassy and remained in Dubai for a couple of weeks until my paperwork was finalized and I was sent home to America.
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A PERSONAL NOTE
This story is not just about what my family and I experienced, but it also a reflection of the many horrors and inhumanities experienced by innocent men, women, and children in Iran on an everyday basis at the hands of the present regime. I am dedicating my book to the sacred cause of freedom and liberty for these noble and courageous people who, regardless of the many brutalities and dangers facing them, stand resilient. They will not waver from their quest for freedom.
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This true account goes back to a time when the world was a much calmer and happier place in which to live, a time when the Middle East was regarded not as a source of extremist Muslim violence nor a breeding ground for terrorism, but as a mystical land from which emerged the great ancient Persian and Assyrian empires that have inspired romantic stories for centuries.
I will relate how my family ended up in Iran and how this land and its people caused the many heartaches and tragedies that would engulf our lives forever. My mother, Linda McKim, came from Kirksville, a small town in Missouri, where she was raised in her grandmother's house with eight aunts, uncles, and their children. She'd been placed there when she was two days old by her own parents, which always made me think that my mother was destined from birth for a life of suffering on this earth. At the age of five, she had to perform hard chores for her aunts and uncles, including washing the laundry by hand because they could not afford a washing machine. At the tender age of seven she had to go outside and chop firewood for the stove and fireplace, even when the temperatures dropped below zero as they often did in the winter.
My mother told me how she would often wait until everyone else was asleep before going out on the front porch, where she would sit for hours, crying and asking God to help her get away from the miserable life she had.
Because of her miserable day-to-day existence, she constantly thought of ways to escape her situation. She told me that when she was only eight years old she was so unhappy that she tried to kill herself by cutting her wrist.
She also told me many times how she would watch neighbor children laughing and playing happily together and wonder why they were happy and loved and she wasn't. She had what might be called a loveless upbringing and she was sadly aware of this.
To keep her spirits up, she retreated into fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White. Her favorite tale was the story of Aladdin and his magic carpet. She was mesmerized by the love between Aladdin and princess Jasmine. She began dreaming of a Persian prince from a distant land who would rescue her one day and take her back to his kingdom.
So it's no wonder that when she was sixteen and met my father, she immediately fell in love with him. Hussein Radmanesh was twenty-five, dark and handsome, and he was from Persia (now called Iran), a land that my mother had heard about when her grandmother would tell her stories from the Bible about Daniel, God's most beloved prophet, and the great king of Persia, Darius the Great, who became his friend. My mother named me after this great king. I suspect my mother was--and is still--a true romantic, eager for love, and she thought she had found that in my father, whom she met in the university cafeteria when my Uncle David introduced them.
My father and mother began dating and after a few months they were married. Not long afterwards, she became pregnant with me. Unhappily, my father asked my mother to abort me. Her refusal to do so began a period of much unhappiness between them, something that my mother constantly cries about to this day. She still blames herself for making the mistake of marrying my father, unaware that his less-than-loving attitude had been the result of his own abusive upbringing.
My grandmother Mallehe often told me stories about the way my dad had been beaten by his father every day. When the Allies invaded Iran during World War II (in order to secure resources and a supply route to the Soviet Union, to help them fight off the Germans), my grandfather, a strong supporter of Hitler and the Nazis, left his family and went up into the Alborz mountains in the north of Iran. There he started a rebellion with an army backed by German agents, who supplied his men with weapons and ammunition to fight the British and the Russians.
During this time my grandmother was forced to feed and support eight children on her own. She moved her family to a village where she bought a small mud hut with only one room. There was no kitchen and the toilet was a hole dug in the ground outside. She told me that at night they would huddle around a small wood stove and often hear wolves prowling the village, looking for food. There had been many occasions when a pack of wolves would enter a hut and drag a small child out into the night, never to be seen again. My father told me countless stories about going to school, when he would have to walk ten miles every day across the desert to the small town where the school was located. Because of the distance, he would have to start out before dawn when it was still dark. He often heard the howling of wolves looking for food, not knowing if or when he might be attacked by them on his way to school.
There is no question that my father's behavior toward my mother was highly questionable. She may have regarded him at first as her Persian prince but he was anything but a prince in the way he treated her in years to come.
I was born on November 19, 1969. One year later my mother was once again pregnant, with my little sister, Tina. My father graduated from the university that year and decided to take us all to Iran.
By now reality had changed the romantic childhood dreams of my mother. She no longer trusted my father but she says she still loved her "Persian prince" in spite of his behavior. This is a mistake that haunts her to this day. When we began our long journey to Iran I was only a year old and of course, I cannot remember anything about the trip.
But my mother certainly did. Years later, she told me that our move to Iran was one of the worst experiences of her life. They began the long journey in an old WW II-era propeller passenger plane. On the way to Greenland, it developed mechanical problems, forcing the captain to fly back to the U.S. and work on the plane for eight hours before the flight could continue. When I asked my mother why they didn't get tickets on a regular commercial carrier, she told me my father didn't want to spend the money.
After finally arriving in Greenland they changed planes and flew to Munich, Germany. It was during the summer Olympics and all the hotels were completely full. So there was my mother, eight-and-a-half months pregnant with my sister, holding me in one arm and carrying two big suitcases, while my father had to carry two more large suitcases as well.
It would be two days until they could get a train to Iran, so they roamed the streets, looking for a place to stay. After several hours, my father finally found a vacant apartment that was owned by an old woman who didn't speak English. My father explained our situation to her and she let us stay, though the room wasn't cheap. That first night I woke up screaming and made so much noise we were told to leave, and we were back outside on the streets. After a few hours of walking, my father found a small Greek restaurant that was about to close up for the night. He explained what had happened and the restaurant owner and his wife let us stay in the back of their restaurant, where there was a small cot. My mother and I slept on the cot and my father slept on the floor. We spent our remaining time in Munich sleeping nights in the back of the restaurant and walking the streets during the day to pass the time until our train departed.
We took a cab to the train station and after a couple of tiring hours standing in line to get our train tickets we climbed onboard our train for Iran. My mother had never been on a train before. At first she was excited but the cabin was so cramped that after a few hours she was very uncomfortable and in pain because of her advanced pregnancy. There was nowhere to stretch her legs or for her to lie down and rest her back. She told me the train was very dirty as well, with litter all over the floor. After several hours my parents met another passenger, a very nice Jewish man by the name of Sandy, who had his own private cabin. He offered us his cabin so my mother could stretch out and get some rest. She told me later that as soon as she lay down she was so exhausted that she slept for hours. After resting on the first day of the journey she started to enjoy what was an exciting experience for her. She was fascinated by how old everything looked. Little did she know at that moment that, when we reached our final destination, the most frightening experiences of our lives would begin; events that would threaten to destroy our family, and almost claim the lives of both me and my sister in the years to come.
Our journey would take my mother, a small-town Missouri girl, and strip her of all her innocence and dignity, and show her a world of violence and destruction. In the years to come she would face things that she'd only seen in movies or had heard about from her uncle, namely, the horrors of war; but at that moment the future seemed very far and distant for a pregnant naive seventeen-year-old girl from Missouri. The day after we began our trip my mother faced the first of many frightening experiences. She said after the train left Germany, it went through Czechoslovakia, which at that time, was under a communist regime. The fact that we were entering a communist country was frightening for my mother because she'd always been taught that a communist country could be dangerous, especially for Americans.
She said Sandy's face also became fearful when he realized that they were crossing the border into Czechoslovakia. Mother said he clutched his head and said "Oh no. My God! They hate Jews here. If they find out I'm Jewish I'm in trouble." As my parents and Sandy waited nervously to see what would happen, to their horror the train came to a halt.
My father went into the corridor and asked the conductor what was going on. He was told it was a routine check point and a group of Czechoslovakian soldiers would be boarding the train to examine people's passports; then the conductor told them to bring their documents out to the soldiers.
Sandy and my mother became fearful because of their nationalities; Sandy because he was Jewish and my mother because she was American. My father tried to reassure them both; he found our passports and we all went out and stood in the corridor.
After a few minutes a group of soldiers came on board, started at one end and worked their way down toward us. My mother said all she could do was pray and try not to look at the machine guns they carried. Luckily when my parents had gone to the Iranian embassy for their necessary papers so we could enter Iran, mother had received an Iranian passport. When it was our turn to show our documents my father gave the soldier her Iranian passport, not her American one that he had hidden. The soldier very quietly and carefully studied all of our documents. My mother said he kept looking curiously at her and she thought probably he was wondering why a woman with blue eyes and blonde hair and a light complexion would be holding an Iranian passport.
In Iran even before the Islamic regime, any foreign woman who married an Iranian was considered an Iranian citizen by the Iranian government, so you can imagine how confused the soldier was but he did give our papers back and nod his approval.
After a couple of hours the soldiers got off the train and our journey continued. After a few days we reached Turkey, from which we would take a bus to Iran. My parents said good-bye to Sandy, collected their bags and us, and we got off the train. We and took a cab to the bus terminal-- my mother said she had never seen so much trash and garbage in the streets as she did then, that you could smell the stench of open sewers everywhere and there were huge garbage dumpsters overflowing with trash all over the streets--only to discover there were no buses departing for Iran until the following day.
My father became very angry and started to shout at the man behind the counter, saying that he had a very small boy and a pregnant wife, and that they had nowhere to spend the night. Once again we were stranded in a strange country.
My mother had another scary experience. While we were sitting on some benches in the bus terminal, trying to decide what to do, my mother decided to go to the restroom. When she got to the ladies room, she saw a strange-looking man standing outside the door staring at her in a way that made her feel very uncomfortable. At first she tried to ignore him but the man had obviously been drinking. He staggered into the ladies room and approached her.
My father heard my mother scream, and ran into the ladies room. He knocked the man down and pulled my mother out of the restroom. He then went over to the ticket desk and told the man behind the ticket counter what had happened.
The clerk called the police and in a little while the police showed up and went to the ladies room but the man had disappeared.
By this time my father was so distraught that the man behind the ticket counter felt sorry for him, called another bus station on the other side of town, and found there was a bus leaving for Tehran, the capital of Iran, in one hour.
The policemen kindly offered to take us, so we put our luggage in the police car and wound up at the other bus station with barely minutes to spare to buy tickets and load our suitcases on the bus. To this day my mother doesn't know how we did it, but within ten minutes we were on our way to Tehran. She told me after several hours on the road my father pointed at a sign beside the highway that read "Welcome to Iran."
She said as soon as the bus passed the sign she felt a cold and lonely feeling engulf her entire being. She looked out the bus window and saw nothing but miles and miles of flat sand. There were no green trees; nothing but endlessly depressing desert. Obviously, neither vegetation nor any other living thing could survive in this hot and dreary land, a land that made her feel as if she had gone back thousands of years in time. As the bus made its way down the long narrow highway she began wondering if she had made a mistake by coming to Iran. Many years would pass before she got the answer to that question.
By now she was feeling a lot of pain in her stomach and her back. My father tried to comfort her and said as soon as the bus got to Tehran we would take a plane to Shiraz, where his whole family would be waiting to greet us at the airport. His brother, Kareem, a doctor, would also be there and he would take care of her.
[Footnote 1: An alias, as are many of the names in this narrative. Since so many are them still live in Iran, it is necessary to protect their identities. ]
She said it took six more hours before the bus reached the airport in Tehran, and by then she could barely walk. Despite being in a lot of pain she managed to get on the plane.
Before boarding, my father called my Uncle Kareem and told him of my mother's condition. My uncle assured him that he would bring a nurse and his medical bag with him to the airport as a precaution.
My mother said when they boarded the plane she told my father it felt as if the baby had dropped, so my father told the flight stewardess to bring my mother a pillow and a sheet so she could stretch back a little and get comfortable.
The three hours later the plane arrived at Shiraz airport.
Two stewardesses helped my mother off the plane. As she walked down the steps my mother said she saw a crowd of people coming over to us and my father said with a big smile, "Look honey, it's the family." My mother was terrified at the thought of meeting my father's entire family at one time, people so different and alien to her, that she almost started to cry. Then she saw my Uncle Kareem, the doctor, walking over to her with a nurse following. She regained her composure and smiled at him.
She always liked and respected him and even today she says he was the one who truly made her feel welcome as one of the family.
When she saw Mallehe, my grandmother, dressed in traditional Islamic clothing-- her entire body covered with a black chador--my mother became very nervous. Although as time passed my grandmother and my mother eventually grew to like and respect each other.
On that day my grandmother--being of a very strict Shia upbringing and a devout woman of tradition--was not very happy to see my father married to woman who was not only a foreigner but a Christian. My grandmother and most Iranians of her generation did not believe it proper to marry outside of your own family or town, let alone someone from a different country and different religion.
My father was the very first in his Iranian family in four thousand years to marry outside of his home town and country. My mother said when my grandmother walked over to us, she kissed my father and then picked me up. After kissing and embracing me, she looked at my mother, who could sense the total dislike and hatred in my grandmother's eyes.
Then, while holding me Mallehe turned around and slowly walked away with the entire group, with my father following behind her. After all, she was the matriarch of the family. The only ones who stayed behind were the doctor and the nurse. They gently wrapped their arms around my mother and walked her to where his car was parked.
After a few minutes my father joined them. He'd been so happy to see his family that he had for the moment ignored my mother's condition. Then his brother, the doctor, told him his pregnant wife deserved more of his attention.
After they spoke a few words in Farsi, the Iranian tongue, which my mother could not yet understand, they got in the car and drove to my uncle's house. We were supposed to stay with my grandmother for a few weeks but because my uncle had a clinic set up in his house--and thus had all the necessary medical equipment and drugs my mother might need--he thought it best for us to stay with him so he could keep an eye on my mother. She now says that those first two or three weeks staying with my uncle were the best time she had in all her years in Iran.
He had his maid attend to her every half-hour, making sure she had every thing she wanted. He even had his driver take her and my father around town so my father could show her Shiraz. Because of her condition she wasn't able to go to many places but she still enjoyed driving around and seeing the ancient buildings that had been around since the Persian Empire. Everything was fascinating to her: the roads, the people, and the language. Everything seemed like a fairy tale.
Three weeks after our arrival in Iran my mother was rushed to the hospital where she gave birth to my little sister Tina. She said other than when I was born, that was the happiest day of her life. She had a son and a daughter and felt as if nothing could go wrong now that all her wishes and prayers for children had been granted.
Since that time I have often caught her crying on the porch or in her bedroom.
When I ask her why is she so unhappy, she says because she realizes how naive and stupid she was back then, and that she had no idea what was really in store for her.
She insists all she ever wanted was a real family that would love and care for her, nothing more. She only wanted love and thought my father was the answer to all her prayers but instead he turned out to be unfaithful and a big disappointment. After a few months we left Shiraz and moved to Isfahan, a city up north closer to Tehran, where my father got an engineering job with a company called Zobe Ahan. Their factory manufactured steel beams for homes, as well as steel products for the oil refineries in Iran. The factory was built some time in the late 1940s or early 1950s by the Russians. We stayed in Isfahan for the next three or four years. I started school and learned to speak Farsi. By then Tina was three or four years old.
I don't remember too much from this period of our life in Iran during the Shah's regime, but I do remember a kindergarten that Tina and I attended, and how my mother began teaching English in a kindergarten there. She even painted Sesame Street characters and the Latin alphabet on the windows.
She gradually started to enjoy her new home, and after a while she said she didn't get so homesick for America. She started to make friends in the neighborhood with other American women who were either married to Iranians or their husbands were with the U.S. military, stationed in Iran. They even held their own Tupperware parties.
One day my father came home from work very happy because he had been offered a job in a newly-built factory run by Polyacryl Iran, a unit of the American company DuPont that was establishing branches throughout Iran.
Mother said after he kissed her he told her that he was given a bonus: he would go to the United States for his training, and that we would be living in South Carolina for the next two years with all expenses paid by the company. My mother was so thrilled that she was going back home to America, and would be living by the ocean. This was something she had always dreamed of, especially after living in an ugly desert country like Iran. A year later we headed back to America. While I don't recall much about this period of my life I do remember my mother was really happy.
After my father's training was over we moved back to Isfahan. He started his new job working for Polyacryl and we moved to a neighborhood called Mardavige, where my mother met and befriended several American women.
Things were going pretty well. I was getting older and starting to make a lot of new friends. Because I had attended an American school while we lived in the States, my parents decided to continue my education in English and enrolled me in an American school in Iran. It was about this time that the anti-Shah demonstrations started in the streets. On one occasion my father and I were walking down Chaharbaq Balla, the main street in Isfahan, when we heard several gun shots.
We looked over and saw a group of demonstrators being chased by some soldiers, who were firing at them with their rifles. My father quickly grabbed my hand and we fled into a small office building. We stood inside the front window and watched the frightening scene in the street.
I asked my father what was happening. He shook his head and said he wasn't sure himself but it didn't look good.
For the next several months there were many violent demonstrations and riots in the city as more and more people began joining the protesters.
I remember several of the people in our neighborhood burning pictures of the Shah and shouting "Down with the Shah!" and "Down with America!" which really frightened me. I remembered only a few years before Americans were loved and respected in Iran, but now they were reviled.
I could see my mother was also scared. Ever since she had first come to Iran she never felt any threat from the Iranian people, but now she was afraid for her life and the lives of me and my sister. Things got so bad and dangerous that my mother constantly worried about our safety.
I remember the demonstrations became more and more violent and people began turning cars over in the streets and setting fire to them.
My mother felt it wasn't safe for us anymore with her being an American and my father an American citizen working for the Americans.
Today when she thinks about those dangerous and unstable times she shakes her head and says how my father told her that everything would be okay and that the Shah's army would stop the demonstrations and everything would get back to normal. Obviously my father hadn't realized the growing danger around us. I remember hearing loud popping sounds in the distance in our neighborhood, and asking my mother what that noise was. She tried to put a smile on her face and said that they were firecrackers and that I shouldn't be worried.
What I didn't realize was that they were gun shots. Things got so bad that it wasn't just the soldiers who had weapons. The Iranian citizens had guns as well and began firing back at the soldiers.
It was during this time that people began attacking Americans throughout the country. They would often break into people's homes, drag them out into the streets or throw rocks to break their windows.
My mother was so terrified she told my father that if he wouldn't leave Iran and take us home to America, she would take me and my sister and go back to the States without him.
He told my mother that the Iranian law forbade a wife to take her children without written consent from her husband, a law that existed even before the Islamic regime. She begged and pleaded with him, and told him that we should go before it was too late, but for some reason my father never accepted the fact that Iran was changing, was getting very dangerous. It was only when things got really bad that my father finally agreed that we would leave Iran, but his decision came too late. It was 1979, one year after the beginning of the protests. The Shah of Iran had already left the country for Egypt. People poured into the streets and started bonfires. They danced while shouting "Down with the Shah!" and "Down with America!"
Hatred toward Americans had become so fierce that some of our close friends stopped coming round to see us because my mother was an American. I was only six years old and couldn't understand what was happening but I do remember my mother crying every day. She and my father would argue until eventually my father agreed it was best to leave Iran if at all possible. Although it wouldn't be easy: Because my mother was American he wasn't sure if they would allow her to go. All the Americans in Iran had fled the country the year before and the hostage-taking at the American embassy in Tehran had been shown on the news. My father feared that the might stop us at the airport and arrest both him and my mother as spies. Things didn't look good.
One day our phone rang. My sister and I were playing in the living room. My father answered the phone and after only speaking a few words he abruptly hung up. I remember my mother asked him who had called. He told her that because the Americans had left Iran all the American engineers had also left. And everyone working at the factories had been laid off. Now, every factory owned by DuPont throughout Iran had no employees. In other words, my father was out of a job. He told mother that it didn't matter anyway because he was getting us out as soon as possible. He told her to start packing.
It was one day some time after that phone call that we heard several loud knocks at our front door. My mother immediately sensed something was wrong and grabbed me and my sister and held us tight on the couch while my father answered the door. Four soldiers holding machine guns came into our house.
One of the soldiers went up to my father and called him an American agent and a traitor to Iran because he had become an American citizen and was married to an American woman. When my father tried to speak, he slapped my father in the face, shouted at him, and told him to shut up or they would shoot all of us right there.
My mother began crying and held me and my sister tightly to her chest and started praying. She didn't know what was going to happen, if we were all going to be killed or put in prison.
My father calmed down and pleaded with the soldiers not to hurt his family. He said that if they let his wife and children go back to America, he would go anywhere and do whatever they asked. Then he broke down crying. The soldier who had slapped my father told him that no one was going anywhere and he was to follow them to their headquarters for questioning. By now my mother was screaming and pleading to please let her and her children go. The soldiers laughed at my mother and told her that if she didn't shut up they would shoot her and her children right then. The soldiers grabbed my father by the arm and they left, slamming the door behind them. My mother immediately started to scream and cry. A few years later she and I were talking about what happened that day and she said she didn't know what to do. She was in a foreign country with two small children and she didn't know what was going to happen. She said a few of our neighbors had seen my father being taken off and after the soldiers had left they came over and tried to comfort her.
I remember that they brought candy and food over for me and my sister. This went on for a couple of days.
One day we heard another knock on the door. My mother told me and my sister to go in our room and be quiet. She opened the door, screamed, and then I heard her speak my father's name. I ran to see what was going on and to my delight I saw my father embracing my mother. They were both sobbing. My father looked over at me and while tears were pouring down his face, he gently asked me to come to him.
He picked me up and kissed me. That night, after we had eaten, he told my mother that he had been interrogated by several soldiers. They had accused him of being an American spy. He had told them over and over that he was not. Finally they told him that it really didn't matter because he had already been found guilty of treason against the Islamic republic of Iran and would be shot immediately.
Then he was told he had one chance to save himself and his family. Because of the shortage of skilled engineers and technicians, all the Polyacryl factories had to be shut down, which meant the loss of thousands of jobs all over Iran, something the new government did not want. If he would agree to train Iranian engineers to operate and maintain these factories, they would show mercy to him and his family in spite of his treacherous actions against his country and the holy leader Khomeini. That's how we wound up staying in Iran and managed to survive under a savage and murderous regime that was executing people all over the country.
All the accusations were trumped up, of course, like the one they had leveled at my father. To them it didn't matter.
Hundreds of men and women as well as children were either shot or thrown into mass graves and buried alive. The authorities followed the slogan "Kill all the Americans."
It was under this regime in Iran that we would live for nine long and agonizing years, during which time we would face countless encounters with death and abuse, until finally we were able to escape and return to America. Because of our experiences in Iran, however, even when we did get back to America, we could never be the same emotionally.
Our days and nights would be haunted with flashbacks of that distant and barbaric land of Iran, the hardships and struggles that my mother faced as a young woman when she first went to Iran.
This story isn't only about my life and eventual escape from Iran. It is also the life story of a remarkable woman who in spite of all her fears, stood by the man she loved, my father, who never truly appreciated nor understood her.
My mother stood by his side and followed him to the ends of the earth--to a violent world she knew nothing about--then faced nine years of war, bloodshed, and danger every single day. After my mother and sister came back to America in 1986, followed by my father and me in 1987, and after surviving the war together as a family, my father left my mother and married another woman. In my opinion, this is not only the story of my escape from Iran, it is also the story of a woman's tragedy from birth to the present day; meaning, all the misery my mother has endured throughout her entire life.
Due to the many hardships my mother was forced to endure over the years, she suffered two heart attacks at the young age of 52. She moved back to her home town of Kirksville, Missouri, where she now lives on her own. My sister lives only a few hours away, and visits our mother frequently.