Saturday, October 16, 2004

Putty’s New Mask

I am reproducing in full an anonymously written short piece from because I find it culturally significant and I am not convinced many readers actually do follow links. What I‘d like to do is to bring to completion some of the broodings I've never gotten around to fully articulating to my satisfaction about us as a people which I had started here, here, here and here. Talk about mother issues!


As I sit across from an officer of one of the most distinguished intelligence agencies in the world, he asks me the single question I am not prepared to answer at a job interview:

"Who are you?"

Who am I? Interesting question. I'm a product of a rift in time and destiny. I can speak a number of European languages fluently, not because I want to but because I spent my life drifting across the globe.

I can accurately quote Shakespeare, Kant, and Sadegh Hedayat, when the occasion calls for it. I can recite Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, as comfortably as I can recite Ferdowsi. I can read and write in a number of languages.

I am as comfortable at La Tour D'Argent in Paris as I am at Sharaf'ol'Eslamy in Tehran's Bazaar.

I know my way around St Peter's Basilica in Rome as well as I know my way about Meydooneh Toopkhooneh in central Tehran.

I'm as comfortable hunting deer in Arnold's California as I am having Ghelyeh Mahi at a stand by the water in Oman. I can seem at home at a peach orchard in Georgia, or picking pomegranate at an orchard in Saveh.

I can swap insults with any Algerian pimp in Bois-de-Boulogne, as comfortably as discussing Sino-American Corporations with a foreign diplomat at an embassy gathering.

I'm not sure exactly who I am, but I am certain of what I am: I am human silly-putty, able to mold myself into the mask of the moment.

Yet behind the mask there is something constant, immovable, old as the dust on the ruins of Perspolis: the rage thundering inside.

Rage at Mother Iran for preparing me better than any school, better than any camp, better than any agency, for betrayal as an occupation.

Rage at a society where the most educated physicist will go to "Emamzadeh Saleh" and pray to the rotten relics of a man that may have never been, to better insure that he is accepted to the PhD Program at MIT.

Rage at a society whose offspring in the millions are scattered across the globe, each having sworn an oath of allegiance to another country to get a different colored passport, and yet scarce a handful of the millions are willing to really stand by the words they swore to get that passport.

You see, no agency could teach me how to lead a double life better than the society that taught me to mix beer and Quran, music and Azaan.

So here I am wearing the mask of the moment, and behind the mask there is a steely determination to betray the very society that created a monster like me.

I'm coming home Mother Iran, I'm coming home to your arms, to embrace you, and stick the dagger I have carried in my heart, into your back, and lovingly hold you as you draw your last gasps; and sooth the shock in your gaze with the serenity in mine.

Mother, I'm coming home...

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