I was listening to Jack Straw talking about Iran yesterday on the radio and a whole set of memories arrived unbidden .
During the seventies when I taught English as a second language I had a pupil from what I had always known as Persia. She travelled every day to the school from the town I lived in so it wasn't long before I was giving her a lift home. As her English improved we had some interesting conversations. I noticed her scowl when I mentioned The Shar. Then I noticed a very worried expression if I tried to talk about the Ayatollah.
It wasn't long before I was worried. This girl was definately hiding something. Being me I probed, specially when I realised that much of what she was saying or had said when enrolling at the school was not the actuality of her situation.
I never accused her of lying...but gradually she opened up enough for me to work some things out. Long before the world knew about the Islamic rule of law as decreed by the Ayatollah I knew or guessed some of it.
Finally she felt able to trust me enough to tell me that she had been sent to England to learn English. Her parents had recognised that she was intelligent but needed English. She told me that her father had been arrested and no one knew his whereabouts.
She was a very clever girl and although her English was not perfect she wanted to go on to University.
She told me with tears in her eyes that it was her parents wish that she would become a doctor and go back to help the sick in her country. She asked with touching trust if I thought she could achieve that. I told her she could but that she would need to go to a school where she could take exams and get sufficient qualifications to be accepted.
She did just that. Every so often I would get a brief card from her...I never doubted that I had not heard the whole story, just the edited bits. But I was fond of her...she reminded me of myself when I was young.
After I moved house I never heard from her again...I never knew the end of the story..
Her name was Nazli. She was very clever, beautiful and courageous. And every time someone mentions Iran I remember her. I hope she succeeded!