This is a story of a woman I met on a train in Iran and a letter she wrote to me — a letter I now read through tears.
My heart sank as I watched the news from Iran this morning, scenes of the British Embassy being charged by an angry mob in Tehran. It saddens me – angers me, really – that narrow groups like this who define the world’s perception of Iran and the Iranian people are in reality such a small percentage of the country's population.
My experience tells me they are the outliers, yet circumstances conspire to convince us on the outside to see them as the norm.
I thought back to all the people we met across Iran, from families in small mountain villages to shopkeepers on the busy streets of Tehran, virtually all of them welcoming us Americans – the supposed enemy — almost always with open arms and quite often bearing gifts. I remembered our conversations with Iranian people of all ages who longed for engagement — not only with us, but with the rest of the world.
I felt like yet another door closed on them today.
One face and smile in particular — that of a woman I met on the train from Iran to Turkey — flashed so many times in my mind today. Amidst a series of conversations about all things ordinary life, she asked me to go home and tell people about the “real” Iran, in other words about the Iranians we'd met.
Along our train journey, she wrote me this note and shared one of her favorite poems, one written by the American poet Collin McCarty. The poem, her sentiments all seem so appropriate today.
I hope that in sharing this story and continuing to write about our experiences in Iran, in some small way I can help fulfill her wish.
To sweety Audrey,
I am writing in the train for a new friend who is very beautiful and kind. Kind with Iran and with Iranian people and she understands them.
Thanks for this.
This poem is a description of our people:
“Things might look a little cloudy now,
but they’ll get better soon.
Just remember that it’s true.
It takes rain to make rainbows,
Lemons to make lemonade,
And sometimes it takes difficulties
To make us stronger and better people.
The sun will shine again soon…you’ll see.”
I wish to see you again in Iran in my home,