Tonight, The Frenchman and I went to a special screening of Persepolis where Marjane Satrapi gave a talk afterwards. She was such a powerful, vivacious, funny woman. Her assessment of modern Iran is that, with such a huge youth population now that is not only well-educated but exposed to the world via the Internet and other media, she feels hopeful that the country will make major changes for the better over time. I loved what she said about education, about the right to non-belief, about the importance of women’s voices. It was fierce, sensible rhetoric after watching what had happened to her in her youth.
I’d brought our Persepolis compendium, so after the Q&A I hunted her down outside because she announced she’d be first having a cigarette. Being the pushy broad that I am, I worked my way to her side quite quickly. I butted in sideways on a conversation in progress. When that person was through, I apologized and asked if she was signing yet. Her wrangler said no, that she’d be signing inside. So instead I chatted with her. I then told her I was a published author and that her voice has inspired mine with her honesty and strength.
After listening to my small speech, she looked at the book in my hand. “I would like to sign your book,” she said with sudden softness.
Something about the change in her voice moved me profoundly. I handed her the pen and thanked her. “Merci mille fois!” She was quite gracious.
This morning, I’d been listening to the radio about how the Pakistanis have their election on Monday yet no one is excited about it. They interviewed Bhutto’s niece again, Fatima, and damn but that young woman is incredibly sharp. She rained hellfire on the whole political system. “Why bother voting? It’s all the same. Musharraf holds all the cards. Why risk your life for this?” She was referring to the 60 public bombings that have happened in the last year, a totally new phenomenon for Pakistan.
I felt queasy when I heard this. And then I turned off the radio and felt grateful. Like, crazy-grateful that I could walk to the polls and not worry about a suicide bomber driving by. We have serious problems, but we can vote. And maybe you’re one of those people who don’t think there’s any real difference between our candidates — maybe not — and that we need to destroy the electoral college — we do — but we can fucking walk into a polling station and cast a vote without fear of death. And I don’t think we realize — like really know in our bone’s marrow — how lucky we are.
Time for bed. I wonder what kind of dreams I’ll have.