2. My childhood in Dezful

 

Iran is a country with many different races, languages, religions and cultures; however these differences are not taken lightly and are the source of physical, verbal and political fights and disagreements. Everyone is proud of their own identity, thinking low of others. Well one way they believe of building confidence is putting others down. These get reflected in their poetry, jokes and stories. Very frequently you see people telling jokes that put the other nations down.

Dezful is located in the south west of Iran close to the border with Iraq. People from Dezful speak Persian, but with a very different accent. My family and I being from different parts of the country, the people of Dezful did not quite accept us as one of them. They called us Ajam (you can ask my uncle, google, for the definition). On the other hand as a defense my dad kept telling us we were better than them. I remember when I was 6 or 7 years old, almost every day I would get into a fight, once or more times in a day, often with the same kids over and over again.

My dad never taught us how to ignore or forgive and would want us to fight to make our point. These fights were mainly physical. I did not want to be considered as second class, so I became a good student and fighter as a child. Defeat or change in tactics was not an option, which caused me a lot of grief later in life.

How far shall one persist and resist before making a change?

Dezful was rather hot in the summer. The houses were connected wall to wall, with a flat roof with siding to prevent accidental falls. In the summer people often slept on the roofs, mainly the boys. Less frequently women slept on the roof since they could be exposed to the neighboring man, which is a big no, no. Although this never happened. Normally men were protective over their own women as well as their neighbor’s, this created a strong sense of community and integrity.

 

Order was more on an honorary basis, rather than having laws in place. When we live on a mercy of individual sense of honor, things can go to the extreme one way or another. But if there are rules and laws in place, everyone understands their own and others rights and society becomes more stable. Less frequently one's right gets violated and if so there is a lawful procedure and this is not left on the honor and mercy of others.

This is why in the countries with less defined rules, there is a lot more action and (unhealthy) excitement while in the west is rather more stable and calm which can be translated as boring at times. Structure and rules are the basis for progress instead of spending your energy dealing with basic rights and twisting them.

My dad told us we were and had to be the best at all times, this became stuck in my head. Spending some nights sleeping on the roof, watching the almost pitch black sky and stars thinking of how it was all created, I thought, “Why are some of us richer than others?”, Why does the king's son have more money and fame than myself. What made him better than me? Money and power was the main way of being better than others. I never accepted the thought of anyone being better than me and never thinking of myself lower than anyone including the king's son, which made me confident but at times arrogant enough that I did not listen and respect other's opinion. I learned that the hard way.

 

When living in Dezfull we had no relatives and traveling was not the easiest thing to do, no phone, poor mailing system and two different sets of relatives from my dad and moms side whom were scattered in different cities across the country, Tehran, Shiraz, Kazeroon, Karaj, Hamadan and Rasht. So as you can imagine we never got to see them that often, although we wanted to, as family was very important.


What was fun in my childhood?

·         Playing soccer with plastic balls with bare feet. Using our shoes to set the goal size

·         Being told over and over that I was the smartest student and winning prizes for being the best student. Years after I found out that it was my dad buying the prizes giving them to my teacher to be handed out as a prize for being the best student. Normally the prizes were stationary items that I used at school anyway.

·         Fighting with other boys and then becoming friends. This became rather a routine; I became friends with most that I fought with. Maybe that is why Iran became friends with Iraq shortly after the peace following an 8 year long war with them. A rather childish behavior in the grownups.


I believe we have teenagers and grown up teenagers. Maturity does not come with age; you only get old with age. 

 

Maturity does not necessarily come with experience alone. Maturity comes with education and experience, Education first. Often grownups take a lot of wrong conclusions on their good or bad experiences, making big mistakes however this time with confidence.



This is why when we become older; we do not change as easily. Since we have gained our own experience and drawn out our own conclusions, regardless of being right or wrong, thinking it works and worked for us, the question is, is there a better way?

Education is the most recent conclusion and finding based on the experience of thousands of others, which is proven or at least partly established with science or well structured statistics. One's experience is only one experience.


When I was almost 11, the Islamic revolution started. My dad, being a soldier and in favor of the Shah (the ruler at the time), while most of the public were in favor of the revolution. This caused more separation between us and the native people from Dezful, to the extent that we had to temporarily move to the army residence for safety reasons.

 Author: Mohammed Nazari