It is not easy to speak the truth always. Especially, when the truth can cost your life or that of your loved ones. I know this from first-hand experience. From a young age, I learnt to hide the truth because of my father’s political activism in Iran. I learnt to pretend. I learnt to keep quiet. I learnt how to be invisible.Leaving Iran, and moving from one country to the other only added to my identity issues. My biggest survival strategy throughout my entire life has been to adapt and blend in, often having to wipe parts of myself and stripping off the deepest layers of my skin. So, earlier this year in January, I decided to bring an end to this agony and finally free myself and be me. I started this blog in the hope of telling all the stories I wanted to tell all these years, but couldn’t. Telling the truth, however, has consequences. There is a sense of liberation in anonymity but it is not the same as the peace that comes with finally accepting and being your true self.
I tried remaining quite. I tried being what the Iranian community expects of a woman. I tried to remain quiet when the Iranian authorities jailed and threatened my family. I remained quiet when I was abused as a child. I remained quiet when I experienced honor-based violence at eighteen. I remained quiet when I experienced sexism and racism over and over again. I remained quiet for too long. I am done with silence and done with hiding who I am. Silence didn’t stop the tyranny – not in Iran, Australia, or the UK. All it did was to kill me a little more every time I kept quiet. But today, I will not be silenced. In the words of Audre Lorde:
“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.”
My name is Azadeh Akbari and these are my stories.
Image Credit: NYC – MoMA – Fernand Léger’s Woman with a Book Woman with a Book, 1923 Oil on canvas Fernand Léger (French, 1881–1955. In U.S.A. 1940–45.)