Being a lazy, apathetic, selfish, stuck-up, salaried middle-class pseudo-intellectual , I had never attended a political rally (or indeed, voted.) However, the riveting pictures from my home country, together the declining interest of my daughter in anything to do with Iran sparked my dormant patriotism.
-Princess, we are going to a rally.
-What is a rally?
-The people of Iran are going through a very difficult, tense time now. They are having a lot of problems. We are going out with other Iranians to show we care about them.
-Will there be food?
And in an attempt to convince her of the importance of the event, I added: “People are being killed in Iran!”
Her eyes widened: “You mean my aunt and granparents are all killed now?”
Halifax has perhaps around 500 Iranians- mostly international students, provincial nominees, and a few long-established business folk. For some strange unaccountable reason, skilled workers such as myself do not show up here, preferring the larger cities, where they think there are more jobs. Perhaps less than a hundred had shown up in front on the Public gardens. Many wore green: ironically the colour of the descendents of the profet, now the colour of “reformist”s. To my horror, a very small group were holding a very large flag with the emblem of the previous regime. Thank God, the police politely told them to stop waving the flag- apparently because the permit for the rally did not include holding flags, not because the Haligonian provincial police cared which intricate emblem was on the flag. They also told demonstrators off for stepping on the pretty circular flower-beds in front of Public Garden, and warned them to remain on the pavement. I think they must have received slightly different training from their Iranian counterparts.
I felt very stupid, at my first political rally, holding a placard which said “Where’s my vote?” I hadn’t voted! As there were no polling stations in Halifax, it should have read “Where’s their vote?” The princess and the golden boy looked around. My compatriots shouted slogans, some of which I didn’t agree with. Some of which I did. In any case, I am not used to shouting on pavements. I pulled my pretty Splurge summer hat low over my eyes. I felt glad I didn’t have teenage children in Iran. I felt like a fraud. After all, there were my real compatriots, dodging batons and bullets, and here was me, standing in the cool evening sun of Halifax, by the pristine lawns and quacky ducks of Public Garden. I felt confused. Be safe, my compatriots. That is all I can chant for you. Be safe.