December 1st 2022:

Yesterday, I joined the big protest of Iranian students from 150 foreign universities across the globe. The event at our university was organized by Mahsa, a thirty-year-old woman studying astrophysics. When I saw her message in the Iranian Brandenburg residents’ group chat, I knew I had to be there to help. She had asked for volunteers to assist with the event, and I was eager to participate.

As the youngest among the group, I was tasked with putting up printed posters featuring the names and pictures of those who had been killed and arrested during recent protests in Iran. It was early in the morning, and as I looked at the faces of those on the posters, my heart ached. We had prepared seventy posters. One of Mahsa’s friends came to help me. She was from Pakistan and said, “I’m very proud of your people. We have the same problems of your country, but our people don’t do anything. They just blindly follow the government.”

The gathering was held in front of the main gate of the university, next to the large palace. Despite the cold weather and strong winds, around fifty people gathered to show their support. Melina, a Brazilian girl who works for a magazine, had seen my post about the gathering in the international students’ group chat and had come to report on the event. She asked me about my personal experiences regarding the current situation in Iran. I talked about how the lack of freedom and social justice in Iran affects people’s daily lives.

The posters caught the attention of passersby, who stopped to read them and take pictures. As I was looking around, I saw my friends from Ireland, Italy, India and several parts of the world. The cold dissipated with the warmth of their presence and we ended the protest by Sherivn’s song. When the final notes echoed, my heart wished for peace, for an end to this prolonged nightmare.

December 4th 2022:

Kavin, my friend fr: “How’s everything at home?”

Me: “Are you asking about the situation in Iran?”

Kavin: “Yes.”

Me: “The latest news I’ve heard is that they’ve begun executing people. They executed the first person just a few days ago for blocking a street. It’s interesting how fast they have done that cause trials in Iran usually take years. I didn’t know about any of this till two days ago so I had already made plans for the weekend to party. I had also invited an Iranian friend, but he cancelled at the last minute and said he didn’t have the energy to enjoy himself due to the situation in Iran. I went out with anyways, though I felt guilty. Sometimes, I’m not sure how to act. Everything seems to paradoxical sometimes.”

Kavin fell silent and didn’t say anything.

December 6th 2022:

It was the first session of our therapy group. I was filled with anxiety and fear, sitting in a small room with a young Afghan girl and our group therapist. The girl spoke of the war, the Taliban, and the day her city was taken over. She talked about her family, her husband still in Afghanistan, and her own journey to Germany in search of a better life and a way to help her loved ones.

“I’ve learned to accept the things that are out of my control, and that I focus on the things that I can control. If I allow myself to be consumed by the war and its traumas, I won’t be able to do anything for my family. Perhaps I can find a way to take a stand for peace and humanity in Europe or America. But I know that until I have security and stability, I won’t be able to make any difference.” she said.

Towards the end of the session, the girl left, and I was left alone with the therapist. The pain I had been holding in for so long finally came to the surface, and I broke down in tears. I was tired of the injustice and inequality in the world, tired of feeling like I was trapped by circumstances beyond my control.

My family had warned me not to attend protests abroad or speak out against the government, as it could make troubles for me for ever returning to Iran. My friends abroad, on the other hand, want me to be more politically active, urging me to use whatever means I had to fight for justice.

In the midst of all this, I also have to focus on my own life and adaptation to Germany. I need to find a way to make friends, to pursue my studies, and to carve out a new sense of self in this foreign land.

My therapist urged me to find a way to release my pent-up emotions, to take time every night to sit with my thoughts and feelings and allow them to surface. She suggested painting, dancing, or writing to help process my emotions.

As I left the session, I felt a sense of release, as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It wasn’t a magic cure, but it was a start.

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