In the popular daily four-colour newspaper Hamshahri (fellow-citizen), there is a section called Havades which can be variously translated as “events”, “accidents”, or “happenings”.
And every day, there are stories in this section about some guy going beserk and shooting his in-laws in court, stabbing his mother-in-law, throwing acid in his sister-in-law’s face etc etc etc.
The relationship between in-laws is, of course, the stuff of jokes and legend, yet as Havades testifies, many of the jokes find uncomfortable reality in crime.
You don’t find these kinds of stories in the reports on crime over here. Not that there aren’t any crimes, of course, but they seem to be committed by a group of hardened criminals and society drop-outs. There are the various shootings by some small-time Mafia-type drug groups, some scrapping and fighting by drunken types falling out of bars late at night, things of that sort. Maybe it’s because families generally live far from each other (so sensible! so Canadian! My family lives in BC! So of course I go to university in Halifax!), or maybe because it’s divorce and separation is not the huge social deal it is in Iran, but so far, I had never read or heard of Havdes-style violence, with once-respectable families exploding under the pressure of poisonous relationships out of which they had no escape.
So when I read about this guy in Lunenberg (a pretty small seaside touristy town about two hours from here) beating up his father-in-law (who was also his neighbour! who had also sold him a house!) with a shovel, my first reaction was how Iranian!
The guy had a wholly anglo-saxon name like John Smith or something, but I bet you, deep down, in his heart, his name is Ali Amiri, Mohammad Taghavi, or some other too-common Iranian name.
Although, on the other hand, it’s nice to know the desire to beat up and murder your in-laws isn’t confined to the pages of Havades. Anywhere, however pretty and civilized, the evil monster can be summoned forth, especially if there is some property and money involved.