By Houshand Asadi
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Additional resources for Letters to My Torturer: Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Iran
Again and again this child would find himself inhaling the air of death. The reason why this death, which had seemed so certain, had been delayed, would remain unclear. ” She was referring to the meaning of my name. I, who had just become interested in reading and books, replied: “Houshang is the name of the second of the ancient Iranian kings. ” Overwhelmed with joy, my mother started kissing my face, never imagining that years after her death I’d be forced to account for my name in one of Iran’s most horrifying prisons.
Then one day, a few years ago, someone emailed me an image. He asked if I knew the man in the photo. I did. It was Brother Hamid, by this time one of Iran’s ambassadors. Staring into his eyes, I knew I needed to confront my torturer and the living nightmare that was his legacy to me. I searched through my scattered notes, written intermittently over the years since my release from prison, but they were filled with hatred and I no longer identified with them. I didn’t wish to view the world, as my torturer had, in black and white terms.
The trousers are baggy and falling down. The slippers are old and about two sizes too big for my feet. They take me into another room. I take off the blindfold. A chubby man with a bushy beard places a placard around my neck and photographs me a few times. Around fifteen years later, when I went to the Islamic court to ask for permission to leave the county and the judge’s assistant brought over my file, I saw one of those pictures again. I was a young man in the photograph, thirty-two years of age with a full head of black hair, a thick moustache, a plump, happy face, and a curious smile on my lips.