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10. juni 2020- Ashraf Bagheri Iran/Uppsala

Ashraf Bagheri

Hvordan er det å være på flukt eller i eksil når verden rammes av en pandemi? 11 forfulgte forfattere rapporterer fra sin hverdag i en digital dagbok. Bidrag nummer ni kommer fra Ashraf Bagheri, forfatter og journalist fra Iran. Ashraf var fribyforfatter i Uppsala fra 2018-2020.

It’s almost as though time has come to a standstill. We are unable to see tomorrow’s face, and the fear of death has cast a shadow over people’s souls.

The news stirs anxiety. Sometimes I think about seeking refuge in a remote village, without mobile phone, computer or internet, far from the din of the media’s incessant republishing of news that is both disturbing and alarming. It’s as though I need a period of peace without news for life to be able to return to normal.

I call my sister for a video chat. I’m far from my family and am worried about them. She laughs, saying, “In Iran we’ve always had a COVID of one kind or another to battle against and find new ways to live our lives. This time it’s COVID-19’s turn.” My sister’s right. In the land of ash and roses, we have never lived in peace.

“Don’t worry! We’re doing fine. I feel as though people have become kinder towards one another. It’s like everyone is thinking who will be the next not to answer the phone, who will the messenger of death take into his arms.”

In these days, life sometimes resembles the final days of the condemned. Everyone is waiting for death’s next victim to be called in for execution. A shared sorrow has brought people closer and made them kinder to each other.

Still, the voice of life calls louder and more clearly. People who would speak incessantly of an untenable life overflowing with injustice, who expected that death alone could free them, now speak of life through the masks covering their mouths. They carefully observe all the quarantine rules and make sure that no one pollutes the air they breathe. The voice of life has always been louder and clearer than that of death.

It is said that after the coronavirus the world will be different, better. I have my doubts about the truth of that. All the commotion in the news will die down and everything will return to its true self, to its inner angels and demons.

I read in the news that a maternity ward in Kabul has been attacked. Mothers who had taken their new-borns in their arms to give them their first nourishing drops of milk were reeling in their own blood, kneeling in the face of their bitter deaths.

The world is corrupted by fear and illusion.

I want a little peace, to turn off my computer and phone, to close my eyes to anything to do with words and media.

Wouldn’t a world without news be a safer or, at least, a more peaceful one?

I call my mum. She has some difficulty breathing and her heart and lungs are sick. She has no pension and so has to take good care of her mask. She washes and reuses it many times in the hope that death won’t bury her ability to carry on hoping.

And my old, lonely, lovely neighbour, who is suffering from cancer, blow-dries her beautiful hair, puts on a pretty dress, checks that the colours of her handbag and shoes are matching, applies splendid colour to her gorgeous lips and reminds us that we should leave her to take the lift alone so the likelihood of infection is diminished. My beautiful old neighbour says that she never fears death, and expects it. She expects death, but is full of life.

Life is more vivid than death. COVID-19 will still leave people with their hopes and their suffering. And life, with its suffering that conquers happiness, will carry on…       

Text by Ashraf Baqheri 

Translated from the Persian by Christoffer Peder-Ellefsen and to English by Adam King.