I traveled through Iran in 2007. My last stop was the Behesht-e Zahra, the main military cemetery for the millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). The cemetery was beautiful. Calm and serene. I know, it sounds kind of strange to describe a war cemetery with such words. But death is not mourned at these infinite rows of flower covered tombs. But rather celebrated, with flags, banners and children singing songs. These are the country’s heroes, and they have not been allowed to be forgotten. The faces smiling from the pictures placed on the tombs are still alive. The dreams and ideals of the activists still ablaze.
As I wandered around, I found myself suddenly bombarded from all sides by scores of young schoolgirls screaming “I love you” and flashing Victory signs with their little hands. Their eyes laughing with mischief. The laughter pouring over their faces. Wherever I turned I was overtaken by the pitter-patter of their feet. “My name is Fatima.” “Your name?” “Iran good, god good?” “I love you! I love you!” And then they would break into guileless honest laughter.