I was almost 21 and still a student. I had been in some relationships that closely resembled a romantic one. And I had even thought about marriage (as you should, when you live in a mostly religious society). But I didn’t really know what it’s like to love a person until I met her.
In Iran you go to a university and study for 4 years to get your bachelor’s degree. And in the first 3 years, all I did was extracurricular activities. I didn’t have time even to think about a relationship. But after those 3 years, I was kind of tired. So I stopped everything to make time for myself and that’s when it happened.
I had met her before. Her name was “Sharareh” which -loosely translated- means the flame. She had entered the university one year after me. So we didn’t have any classes together. But I had met her in the halls and also when I was selling the student’s magazine that I was in charge of. (One of those extracurricular activities that I mentioned.)
We had never really talked except for a few “hi, how are you?”s. But each time I saw her, something inside me was moved. I was mesmerized by her, those eyes, that black long curly hair. She had an air of mystery around her. But I didn’t know the “protocol”. What was I supposed to do when feeling like that? I found her on Instagram and followed her in hopes of keeping in touch till I figure out what I was gonna do.
At first, I thought that this attraction is temporary and it will pass. But as the time went on, and as I started to read her posts, I grew to like her even more. But I think the point of no return was the Martin Luther King Day of 2014.
To get this part of the story, you must know a little more about me and my college years. I was basically an activist. I took part in political gatherings, organized cultural activities, founded an environmental society and ran a magazine. I did everything I could for my beliefs and ideals.
As an activist, it’s impossible not to know about Martin Luther King Jr. But I never thought that someone in Iran -someone I knew- would actually care about the same stuff and know about doctor king and his legacy for everyone, everywhere, the same way that I did.
But there I was. Looking at the screen and seeing an image of doctor king and reading a few words about him. Where? You ask? On Instagram. Yes, on her Instagram page. At that moment, I felt a whole other level of connection to her, something I wasn’t familiar with and couldn’t really explain.
I started talking to her, online and offline. We talked about everything, sent each other our favorite music tracks and even discussed politics and religion. I had never met someone like her. We agreed on so much and when we didn’t, we were able to talk about it with both passion and logic. We were really talking, not just passing time by pretending to listen.
As the time went on, I realized that I was falling for her. So I gathered all my courage and asked her out. You have to realize that for an introvert like me -who didn’t have any real experience in that area- it was one of the hardest things ever!
To keep it light, I invited her to join me and a few of my friends on a hike/picnic. And I think this was when it went wrong. It was my chance to make her see how I feel about her. But all my friends were activists too. And the whole time, we discussed everything political! At one time, I stopped for a second to realize that we were talking about the reformists in Egypt! It was like a nightmare and she was in the middle of it, stuck and quietly listening but not taking part.
I tried a few times to make it right. Especially on the way back. But as I said, I was a rookie in the field and an introvert so I wasn’t really successful.
I apologized like a hundred times and she assured me that everything was ok And We kept going on. But I think she decided on that day.
At the time, I hadn’t really thought about my career. I had always loved writing but everyone said that it was no way to make a living. She was the first to say something else.
I had taken a photograph of her on that hike I mentioned earlier. And later when I was looking at the images of that day, I was so moved by it that I had to write something. I wrote a poem!
I wasn’t a poet. My specialty was editorials and long essays. So I was understandably nervous. I remember asking her “will you read something that I wrote for you? I don’t know if it’s any good.” Or something to that effect. And she said that I was an amazing writer, that she would definitely want to read it and that I can make every sentence beautiful, even if it was just an announcement in the newspaper.
I sent her the photo and the poem and she said that she loved it. It was a unique experience for me overall but that last sentence especially stuck with me: “you can make every sentence beautiful, even if it’s just an announcement in the newspaper”.
People had told me that I wrote well before. But it was the first time that someone who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind had put it like that. She was the embodiment of perfection to me and if she said that I wrote well, who was I to disagree?
I think it was just because of that single sentence that I found the courage to apply for a job as reporter and start working in a news agency. I didn’t stay there long. But I had found my confidence as a writer and -with the exception of a few months- I have worked as a writer ever since.
As for Sharareh, when I finally declared all my feelings, she said that we shouldn’t get serious because she was planning to go abroad for her master’s degree (she really did) and she wasn’t going to come back (she really hasn’t). I tried to keep it together and we stayed in touch but after a while we decided that it was too painful to continue.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll meet again someday. All I know is that I’ll be forever grateful to the girl that changed everything by her flame…
Originally published at english.hamed.media on February 27, 2019.