Boys Keep the Borders
Cho Iran nabashad, tan e man mabad!
If Iran ceases to exist, may my body and soul cease to exist!
Every Iranian child is trained to memorize this statement, which is taken from the Shahnameh by the great Persian poet, Ferdowsi (940-1020). This mythical epic poem is as much about heroic feats from ancient Persia, as it is about the adoration and endurance of the Persian language throughout Central/South Asia and a deep sense of cultural identity and rootedness. Boys Keep the Borders is a play on an idea grounded in the reality of war, but also suggesting how there is an assumption that men must be bound to protecting the state while women are viewed as the securers of the home. However, do boys ‘keep the borders’ in their private life; do they segregate the roles between the sexes? Can one transcend theses borders or lines of control in a relationship? What is the appropriate place of women in this equation? Perhaps the real question is why, in times of defending the idea of a nation and maintaining its values, it is always the men who are mentioned, while women of any country can be, and very often, have been the real warriors beside men, often even leading them.
Imagine Me and You
Text by Nandita Jaishankar
Take your finger and trace a line along my arm. The skin is cool to touch, your finger tip feather-light. You are discovering new territory, unchartered waters. Remember Ahwaz? The smell of burning oil, always at the back of your throat, reflections glinting off the Karun river in dull winter light, the constant orange smog, a lover’s suffocating embrace. Your dark-lashed eyes looked skywards beyond toxic clouds, beyond smoke, beyond sand, wondering what lay on the other side. As children, we both read books on bravery, on courage, on martyrdom. Fight for honour, fight for your country. Cho Iran nabashad, tan e man mabad! If Iran ceases to exist, so will my body, my soul. But what of my heart, my mind? The curve of your hip, nestled against mine. So much dark hair to intoxicate me. You smell of home, of everything familiar and fast fading. I examine your fingers, your palm, each line a filigree of escape.
Your veins are a map I follow, taking me away, whisking me beyond comprehension, beyond myself, to the ends of the earth. Your body a frontier, the heart its shattered border. Tomorrow we will fight. Tonight we shall love.