A Guest Post that’s a throwback to another generation, we thank them for allowing us to share this story:
I was about 19 years old, a University student in Isfahan when the Shah’s regime fell. All of us were very excited to be a part of history in the making. Even before they shut down the schools, I had stopped going to classes– why bother? Even in class, our professors talked politics- not math or physics.
The real education was out on the streets, we thought, but that was arrogant and naive. I remember throwing perfectly good University Cafeteria food into the trash as a sign of defiance to the ‘regime.’
Looking back, I wish I had enjoyed the Kabob and stayed in school.
In the time of the Referendum, when people voted for an Islamic Republic, the country had no effective military or police. Each province was divided up into precincts, and each precinct had its ‘guards.’ Who were these guards?
Young revolutionaries, running high on confidence that they were actually changing the country and making people listen.
I was handed a precinct and asked to bring in a few of my friends to work under me. Our jobs were to stand guard temporarily until voting was over, then clean and retire the weapons, and make sure everything in the area ran smoothly. I was 19, and I was handed the power and responsibilities of a police captain. I rounded up a few of my University friends with whom I was politically active with, and started the job.
It was great- it was a political fraternity, we all hung around a house, but instead of beer there were guns.
And some nights part of the closing routine was that we were supposed to clean the guns, make sure they weren’t loaded, before we headed home. While I had survived beatings and tear gas from the marches and demonstrations I had participated in, I had really never fired a weapon.
Unfortunately to perform this task, you had to fire every single weapon, pointed upward– after you emptied the magazine (place where bullets were stored).
A few nights and many guns later, I was going through the same process while chatting up with a friend who stood across from me. I would unload, re-lock, point upward, and shoot. Again. Again. It was second nature–it became mindless.
Then, with one gun, I forgot to unload, and in a mistake I’ll never forget- I fired the weapon a little lower than upward. Every single guy in the room went quiet, eyes went wide. I was so caught up in fear and shock, that I didn’t even hear my friend yell out.
Luckily, the bullet brushed his arm, but there was blood. Any lower of an angle and I would’ve shot him in the heart.
Sometimes my kids lose their wallets, or forget their cell phones somewhere– and it brings me back to being young and making mistakes. I realize I am accountable for hurting my friend because a gun is nothing to be mindless about. But I also think about how the consequences of being young were so different.
A 19 year old’s mistake in 1979 could easily have ended a person’s life.
My friend forgave me and the rest of my ‘fraternity’ supported my position– understanding the mistake. In fact, years later I found out the same wounded friend lost his life in the Iran-Iraq War.
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