Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran
Camelia Entekhabifard was six years old in 1979 when the shah of Iran was overthrown by revolutionary supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini. By the age of sixteen, Camelia was a nationally celebrated poet, and at eighteen she was one of the youngest reformist journalists in Tehran. Just eight years later she was imprisoned, held in solitary confinement, and charged with breaching national security and challenging the authority of the Islamic regime. Camelia is both a story of growing up in post-revolutionary Tehran and a haunting reminder of the consequences of speaking the truth in a repressive society.
martyrs. Behesht-e Zahra was gradually coming to life. Cars filled with mourners and covered with wreaths of roses were driving in as we left. On the way back my father drove much faster than he usually did. He turned on the radio to relieve the grieving, heartbroken atmosphere and asked Afsar Khanum to join our family for lunch. But she politely declined. “I have troubled you enough. It’s Friday. You have things to do. I’ll be very grateful if you would just drive me home.” My father pulled up
set off for some unspecified destination in Tehran. We would drive to a quiet area and park under the shadows of a big tree to hide and talk. Or he’d take me with him to run various errands; we’d chat along the way, and then he’d leave me in the car to sit and wait for him until he’d finished up and would drive me back home. Our star-crazed neighbors were monitoring my house so closely it was difficult for him even to walk me up to the front door, so he’d drop me off outside. He started making
treated me like a personal secretary. In the evenings, when he got back from the soccer club, he’d plop a big sack of faxes and letters on the ground for me to sort through. They were always full of letters from young women, accompanied by their pictures, entreating him to marry them. Some wrote that they had wealthy fathers, and some wrote that they observed hejab and were good homemakers. Still more asked him to send them money or gifts. I crumpled up the letters and sat miserably with my arms
had found out about the deaths of friends by reading this newspaper . . . Most importantly, Kayhan was cheap, and its pages were big and suitable for cleaning windows and wrapping herbs at vegetable stands. Censoring the news was part of the Kayhan Corporation’s policy, and the jurisdiction of the censor extended even to our little “Thirteen to Eighteen” department at Zan-e Ruz. I wrote an article titled “When Will the Date Palms of Khorramshahr Be Green?” after spending the Nouruz holidays in
rude, but I wanted to prove how relaxed I could be with the president’s daughter. By using Bahremani as her last name, the part of her full family name her father didn’t use publicly, she had a little protection from scrutiny. Now I was being nosy and exposing my friend to gain popularity points. Without saying anything, she reached into her bag and handed me her card, where it was plainly written, “Faezeh Hashemi Bahremani.” After a few months I began to feel that Aftabgardan was also too