I was just your average teenager who loved having a good time and going to school. But with the revolution our personal liberties were being taken away. I protested when my calculus teacher taught propaganda. She said, “You don’t like what I teach, leave.” So I collected my books and walked out, and most of my classmates followed.
We were tagged as anti-revolutionaries and were arrested. I got the death sentence. But one of my my interrogators believed I was telling the truth, that I didn’t know anything. He reduced my sentence to life in prison. And six months later, he offered me a deal: Marry him – and, although I had to stay in prison, he’d protect my family. I agreed.
Not long afterwards, he was assassinated by a rival faction of the government. The prosecutor of Tehran wanted to marry me off to another guard. But my husband’s family intervened, and I was eventually released.
The man that I was forced to marry was a torturer. But I found out later that he had also been a political prisoner during the time of the Shah. He too had been tortured severely. When the revolution happened, it was an opportunity to seek what he called justice.
When you say a torturer you think these people are incapable of carrying a conversation, or that these people are entirely evil every minute of their lives. That is not true. That would make it very convenient. It’s not like that. My husband was an intelligent man, very well-read. He had bursts of being very nice to me even if I was still his captive.
What I learned through all of this – you can’t always tell who’s good and who’s evil. In prison you’d see prisoners who were terribly mean to each other for no good reason. We talk about evil, but how do you know evil? How do you really recognize it? Because in a lot of cases, torturing, hurting people, executing people, is considered an act of justice.
Survived the World Trade attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A senior vice-president for an insurance company, he is now retired in British Columbia.
When I went to work, I’d get on a little bus in Scarsdale. A young man around the corner from me would get on at the third or fourth stop. He’d wait at his front door with his kids and give his wife a kiss before running across the road to jump on board.
People would mumble about how the bus was waiting for him to give his wife a kiss. And it was exactly that same way on September 11. I saw him get on the bus, saw him sit down, and off we went.
Later, I’m attending a meeting on the 103rd floor of one of the Twin Towers. As I’m giving a short talk, I see the plane coming in and hitting building number one. Fire leaps out. I go back to my office. Security was telling us: stay at your desk, we’re a safe building. Well, I had the benefit of seeing the plane and it was huge. I started walking down the stairs.
When I got home I found that the young man from the bus had died. The saddest thing was a week or two later: I was getting on that same bus, and the driver took a different route. He said, “I promised the wife, because her three children are running across the road every day to meet the bus, thinking their dad is still going to come home.”
Nobody thinks about all the lives that will be affected. People who died in the theatre in Colorado will impact another several hundred people. All of them will feel unbelievable grief.
And those people who went to Batman with happy thoughts – it’s difficult for somebody normal to think how anyone gets to that point that he just goes out and shoots people. The only common purpose that I see between Mr. Bin Laden and Mr. Holmes man is that they’re both looking to be recognized in history.