I ask myself this question every year, right about now, from a month before … maybe up until a month later, maybe two, or three or four … until the days join one another in a constant rotating loop and I can’t really tell which June 12th it is and which one is coming. But every year, around this time, I ask: what does June 12th mean to me? You know, I brainstorm, in the messy, chaotic way our minds all do.
What does it mean? What does it taste like? Smell like? Feel? And if I were to offer a canvas of all the things that rush to me, throw me back in a violent jolt or thud … it might look something like this, give or take those words that transcend language, that only make my heart beat faster or my palms sweat – but for which the dialects and expressions I’ve learned offer no word, phrase or utterance.
Tears, boundless unending forever
Not “life” if you take it to be promise or hope or birth. But that June 12th was only a symbol of the life that was to be for an entire generation. It might have been a turning point in many ways for many of us. But in the end, it was only a symbol … to us and strangely, to the outside world. Maybe because what the world heard and saw was just too big to turn away. And for a moment, it was worth turning off American Idol or Grey’s. It’s the day they chose to turn back and give us a glare, a glimpse a nod. But to us, to those of us living and breathing and walking within the walls of Iran, it was a manifestation of life. As it was. As it will be.
Haleh Sahabi and Sohrab and Ashkan and Mohsen and Behzad Mohajer and … were symbols too. But they were flesh and blood as well. Walking, talking, breathing flesh whose blood was smeared and spread all over the walls, all over the street and stores and parks and restaurants. And we will live our entire lives with the stench of that cold, merciless blood in walking distance, within arms length.
They are a part of the life … death … that surrounds us. That swallows us. From which there is no escape. From which there never was.
Except for one moment maybe, a singular dot out in the horizon. A Mirage. Towards which we all ran, and for which we all cried out loud, so loud that the gods turned away from their merriment for only a split second, and the world stopped.
Listen. That is June 12th.