Review: Escape from Iran: The Re-enslavement of Women and the Death of Modern Music
Author: T.Mike Walker
Publisher: Outskirts Press
T.Mike Walker sets Escape from Iran: The Re-enslavement of Women and the Death of Modern Music in Iran during the time of the Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution.
A young American music student, Ara Vartan, who is of Christian Armenian heritage, journeys from his home in California to pursue further studies in Persian music in Iran. While in hiding for six months in Kul, a small mountain village in Iran, Ara is awakened by his roommate Khorso, who is a member of the Baha'it religion, tells him they must immediately flee as the Kurds have seized control of the village and are requesting independence from the Central Government in Tehran.
Along with his other personal items, Ara packs a finely crafted Persian santir (a stringed instrument of trapezoidal shape played with light hammers held in the hands) and sets off for Sanandaj with Khorso. The instrument was given to him by his beloved music teacher as a gift for his fellow countrymen exiled in America, and when he plays it for them they will hear their country sing again through Ara.
In Sanandaj Ara and Khorso purchase the last bus tickets on a crowded overnight bus to Isfahan and during the night they are subjected to searches by para-military groups but are lucky up to now to still be alive. Ara is also traveling as an illegal alien as the date stamped on his student visa expired six months ago. In Isfahan the two friends separate, Ara takes a bus to Tehran, where he plans to reach the American consulate, and Khorso to his home town, Shiraz promising each other that one day they would meet again in Berkeley, California.
While on the bus to Tehran, Ara meets a beautiful Iranian woman, Kereshmae Nasraddin, who has recently lost her husband and who turns out to be an activist for women's rights who feels betrayed by the Mullahs. Bitterly she tells Ara that women's rights have been thrown back one hundred years. She is determined to organize, educate and demonstrate, which might cost her own life as well as her supporters. Ara is also petrified that if he were to be caught and questioned they would never believe his story that he is a music student and he would falsely be accused of being an American spy.