the personal . . . not existing as an abstraction ¬
1 ¬ We all met twenty-one years ago right around this time, the beginning of the school year. We were in the same high-school. Saha and Mina both majored in Math & Physics. They used to skip Religious Education and Civil Education to hang out in the orchard behind the school in the afternoon sun and solve some big algebra problem or debate the depths of Pethagores and Euclid. Those were too abstract for me. I was in Humanities and liked to read and listen. So, one day, after I discovered their hide-out by accident, I skipped Algebra and joined them in the fainting sun. It didn't matter that I wasn't interested in the subject of their discussion. I just sat there watching and listening to them, excited and animated as they were over something that couldn't possibly have anything to do with the passing afternoon. But their words and the music of their speech beat in harmony with the wind rustling the orchard. And I still miss those autumn afternoons. -->

Saha was a bit over-developed for our age. She had fully-shaped breasts, hips and thighs. When she was deeply in thought, she used to round her lips like she was Marylene Monroe preparing to be kissed by Tony Kurtis. She was in the girls' basketball team. One time, during a match with Mehrazin team, she got so confused that, unstopable, she ran to our own court and, undisputed, scored a ball in the basket. Everybody laughed and cheered and saw her blush when she realized what she had done. What I saw was a mountain of fire heaving in excitement, and a tremor of awe went down my spine. -->

Mina was usually quiet except when she found an occasion for blurting out her critical views of the 'system' which at the time encompassed everything that went on in our school. She was secretly in love with Mr. J******* who taught Geometry. He had a very handsome mustache and penetrating eyes which twinkled when he smiled. She was nicknamed Miss Computer because of her speed in solving complex geometry problems without needing to put things on paper. She always only had one pair of jeans and a few wrinkled shirts, and her mass of curly hair which she let loose had earned her other nickname, dervish. -->

I wasn't exactly a geek. I used to think that the 'real science' was about observing ourselves, our humanity in its contradictions. I liked Googoosh's music because I liked watching her body move in rhythm with her songs when she preformed on the stage. It was like the beating of a frog's heart on the laboratory table which I saw on the first and last occasion I ever stepped into the biology lab. She was 'our own' pop star, original and inventive and Mary Mateau was nothing compared to her. She stopped singing after the Revolution and didn't leave Iran like others did. I think the Revolution freed her from the curious gazes which had always pried in her privacy and molested her since she stepped on the stage at the age of three. -->

2 ¬ In the beginning months of the country-wide strikes in 1978/79, we all continued going to school every day as we used to at 8 o'clock in the morning. We'd walk past the army truck and the battalion of soldiers surrounding the school, and enter through the main gate, the only one open, and convene in the school yard. Students and teachers, we stayed in the yard, under the soldiers' gaze, and exchanged news, books and opinions. The three of us somehow came to lead the rest of the students in planning group discussions, organizing information exchange missions to other schools in the city, and preparing for the thing which we all knew was inevitable but didn't know what it was. Three girls, in one of the only two co-ed schools in the city, among a student body with over 60% boys. The student council we had formed last year, became our ad-hoc political organization, with Mina at the head and Saha and I leading the Recruitment and the Opinion Exchange Committees. Mr. N*****, the Trigonometry teacher and head of the Math department, Mr. J*******, the Geometry teacher, Mr. Mina****, the Algebra teacher, and Mr. H******, the Phys Ed teacher, advised us in secret. Because of their previous records, they couldn't be seen by SAVAC, the secret police, to be directly involved. And we wanted to protect them and their families. During this time, some students gradually disappeared. Some were sent abroad by their parents, and some were absorbed in the other centers of organization, the mosques. In a few months, the schools were ordered shut and we lost the place that brought us together. When the massive demonstrations began, we all lost ourselves in the waves that swept through the streets. -->

3 ¬ I sneaked out of Iran five years later, having been expelled from the university on the grounds of having had "anti-Islamic activities". When I left, Saha had been in prison and Mina in hiding for three years. I had lost touch with both of them. -->

4 ¬ Mina and I met again two years ago. By sheer co-incidence, or perhaps by fate. She didn't want to talk about the years since we had last been in contact. The only things she was willing to talk about were Saha, who is still in Iran, and their relationship. -->
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