June 28, 2012: Where Are You, Batia?

(And I hope you’re doing OK)

The other night after the SCA film (June 20th post), when people were doing the Just Standing Around Thing, I took my leave by saying: “Well, I gotta get home and read more about Iranian women.”

NOT an exit line worthy of Nora Ephron. (Yes. I was/am a huge fan and mourn her as if we’d been friends.)

Truth is, the “riveting” book I couldn’t wait to get home to, Wanted Women: Faith, Lies & the War on Terror: The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali & Aafia Siddiqui, isn’t about Iranian women. (Pakistani and Somali, respectively) And I knew that when I said it.

So, I wondered, walking home, why such a stupid—and unnecessary—remark? Sure, I’m particularly drawn to films or memoirs or biographies of Muslim women—especially women from Iran. Still. . .

And then it came to me (Lots of things come to me while I’m walking): Because, years ago, when I was a counselor at an adult learning center, I’d worked with a young woman from Iran. Her name was Batia.

Ironically, Batia is Jewish; most of her stories centered around that fact. So, I reasoned, walking home, my fascination with Iranian women hasn’t been completely about learning about what it means to be a Muslim woman.  Something else has been going on.

And I think it’s this: Batia is not an abstraction. Once upon a time, we connected. She’s not a character in “A Separation.” She’s not words on a page. And although I have had no word from her in over ten years, Something very deep remains.

Shalom Aleikhem, Batia.


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