Friday, February 12, 2010

Dear Jaan - A letter about 22 Bahman

This is not a real letter. It is satire based mostly on facts and true events. The joke about '21' is courtesy of Hadi Khorsandi, though I do not know if he originally came up with it. 

 Aziz Jaan,

Greetings to you on the day after the glorious 22 Bahman celebrations.

It has been some time since I last wrote and I beg your indulgence. With God's blessing, I have been working like a donkey at the Intelligence Ministry ever since about 5,000 unreliable elements were laid off over the summer. But do they give us extra pay? Suffice it to say that I brought up the matter with my supervisor Jaberi -- the man has been insufferable since he went for that training session in Moscow -- and he said 'Nyet.' Did we have a revolution so people would go around using foreign words, I ask you? And he seemed so nice when he got back and brought me those Russian dolls I keep on my desk. A beautiful little Imam Khomeini, may he rest in peace, inside Hashemi Rafsanjani inside Jannati inside General Jafari inside His Excellency Supreme Leader Imam Khamenei. And I say 'inside' with the greatest respect. I've taken Rafsanjani out and keep him at home, just in case my office is searched.

Jaberi says we're on a tight budget, but I don't see them cutting back on entertainment expenses. We ordered 100,000 Sundis juice packs and sandwiches last month for the epic rally in support of the regime. And yesterday we handed out truckloads of gifts and food to the loyal and pious people. They were giving little gold coins and coupons for hotels next to the Caspian Sea to random supporters outside several mosques. One night in a hotel in Ramsar is at least 100,000 toumans! Not that I know from personal experience, but I've been told. I'm not even going to mention how much was spent on thousands of buses and vans for transporting our pious brothers and sisters. And how did they know they weren't giving the gifts to green rioters by mistake? They should have at least quizzed the people before giving the goodie bags. What is the name of His Excellency Supreme Leader Imam Khamanei's favorite horse? Or, In what historic speech did the Agha say that the election was over and people should go back home?

What a waste of money. Only a counter-revolutionary foreign-financed lackey would think that our devoted brothers and sisters would not show up if we didn't hand out gifts and food. And did we have to transport them from so far away? If the good people of Karaj and Lavasanat near Tehran were good enough for last year, who's the genius who thought it would be a good idea to bring people from Zanjan or Hamedan, hundreds of kilometers away? Probably the cousin of some bus company owner! And tell me, who's supposed to demonstrate back home if everyone is brought to Tehran? That was a rhetorical question, by the way Aziz. I've also heard the lies about treacherous green protesters in other cities. You and I know well that the brave schoolchildren spontaneously took to the streets in the provinces, but still. Did we have to organize competitions with 50,000 toumans in prize money at the schools? These brave children of the revolution would have come anyway.

And while we're on the topic of wasting money, what about the hundreds of thousands of hours of overtime for the brothers from the security forces? These poor selfless souls would have come to the glorious 22 Bahman celebration in any case, albeit in civilian clothes, but some of them are plainclothesmen anyway. Instead they were deployed from the previous night, in freezing weather I might add. And all for what? To make sure the insignificant number of green rioters would not cause any trouble. I am certain that the ocean of pious brothers and sisters would have engulfed the few straggling traitors in their midst and we had no need whatsoever to line the streets with our security forces. The security forces could have had the day off and His Excellency Supreme Leader Imam Khamenei would still have been able to walk down the streets with no fear for his safety with the millions of devoted brothers and sisters surrounding him. But you and I know that the Agha is above these earthly matters and would never soil the soles of his blessed shoes by walking down the street. Besides which, his presence in public would cause a riot, in a good way of course, as thousands would flock to him to bask in the Heavenly light emanating from his sacred being.

All that wasted money and Jaberi talks to me about a tight budget and why he can't pay me overtime! That's not what I hear from Cousin Lotfi who's got a cushy job with Revolutionary Guards' intelligence. They're rolling in cash. Meanwhile I was on duty yesterday and couldn't even get some of the free goodies myself. I tell you, the Now Rouz bonus better be good, because we've exceeded our arrest and interrogation quotas.

Join the Intelligence Ministry! they said, Join a growth industry! You'll see the world, they said, at least parts of Iraq and Afghanistan, but here I am, stuck in some basement office for two shifts (paid one), answering the denunciation hotline and drinking fifty teas a day. The cursed telephone doesn't stop ringing, especially since we started publishing photos of rioters and sending random SMS messages asking for tips, and the lavatory is on the first floor. I'd be content if at least the calls were for proper tips and not pranks, or the kind of insults that would make an interrogator blush. And I say 'interrogator' with the greatest respect.

Yesterday an anti-revolutionary lackey called and, instead of giving a tip, asked for information about the 22 Bahman anniversary march. As if we're supposed to know everything. Well, we are, but you know what I mean. So I said, 'Go watch your Zionist satellite channels,' and Aziz, I have to say I felt proud of my comeback. So he said, 'Yes, but there is so much confusing news. They say there were 50 million regime supporters!' And I responded, 'Go fool someone else,' and hung up. Then I read on Fars news that there were in fact 50 million good compatriots in the streets, supporting the regime. I hope my phone wasn't tapped and no one heard my momentary lapse in trust in our numbers. Should I be worried, Aziz?

I suppose I should stop complaining about work.  Cousin Malek who's at Wagon Pars Company is on strike because they haven't been paid for months, but he did get a very comfortable train seat as part payment which he has put in his living room. If it wasn't for the informant's check that he receives every once in a while, I don't know how he could make ends meet. But at least they waited a few months before going on strike! What about the Western-influenced construction workers who built Tehran's new Tohid tunnel? The cursed thing was just opened and there they were last week, lying on the road in front of the tunnel like a bunch of green rioters, bringing traffic to a standstill, all because they hadn't been paid! What happened to the revolutionary work ethic?

And don't get me started on young people. You know that my only son Ezatollah has been a disappointment to me ever since he refused the phone-tapping trainee job I had lined up for him. Mr. Westernized had higher aspirations after he got a doctorate. Well, with God's blessing, he has managed to find a job driving a taxi. The other day, I followed him out of habit just to see what he is up to and caught him playing '21' at a friend's house. Gambling! What's next? Becoming a green supporter?

I sat him down at home and spoke man to man. 'Don't you know that '21' will make you destitute and your life a living hell?' I asked. 'No father, it's 22 that makes you destitute and your life a living hell,' he answered.

I have no idea what he was talking about. I sometimes think we and our children speak different languages.

May your life be bountiful,