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At night, when you close your eyes, think of a woman who never sleeps.

Farangis Khanum Davoudifar, Kaveh Kermanshahi's mother

Farangis khanum is 50 years old and mother of two sons although she tragically lost one of them 10 years ago and the other, Kaveh is in prison for over two months. As a young girl who was married 30 years ago she didn’t wish to go through so much pain. She says she wished to have enough money to travel abroad. Well, that was 30 years ago. Farangis married her cousin and soon had two sons. Unfortunately, her husband was severely burnt in an accident and disabled for life. A young teacher with low income, Farangis soon found herself the breadwinner, the mother and the carer. Life went on as it would until she lost her old son at the age of 18. This left a wound in her heart that never healed. Farangis only lived for her younger son, Kaveh who was 16 at the time. As Kaveh was growing up his concerns grew with him. The loss of his brother, the condition of his father and the worries of his mother were enough to give him a deep insight into life. He began writing in a blog then gradually entered the growing civil rights activities. Well, one would imagine that Farangis Khanum was happy to see her son following her old, burnt aspirations. A woman who once wished to be free and travel abroad! Her son was now fighting her corner.Farangis was a well-informed woman and she used to talk of equality and discriminatory laws in her inner circle of friends and family. Women often gathered around her and listened. She would often call Kaveh to come along and he would arrive like a hero with booklets of One Million Signature Campaign and  add to her mother’s comments and women would sign the petition and he would collect them for delivery to the Campaign coordinator.This was not Farangis Khanum’s only contribution to the increasing civil rights and women’s rights activists in their hometown, Kermanshah. Their home was a place where friends would gather to attend the 8 March celebrations or human rights meetings. They often stayed overnight to save money and Farangis would entertain and talk. No one in that traditional society of Kermanshah expected this kind, middle-aged woman talk of feminism and discriminatory laws.All this set aside, one could detect a creeping worry in Farangis’s heart. Who isn’t worried these days? So many people in prisons and so many distressed families around town! Yet, against her mother’s concerns Kaveh couldn’t close his eyes and not see. Sometimes he would go to visit prisoners and bring them medication. Those political prisoners who had little visitations. He would talk to the mothers of the detainees or those who have lost a loved one. Kaveh and his mother both understood the pain and the terror behind the pain. Terror which came with an execution or the detention of someone they knew. Farangis khanum’s worries were not unfounded. Soon they came and took Kaveh away. At the time of this writing, Kaveh has been kept in solitary for 70 days without the right to lawyer. In the first few days or weeks Farangis khanum was strong and energetic. She would go to the court, the security services and demand information on her son’s case. She managed to visit Kaveh twice and the last visit broke her heart and her spirit. Kaveh was weak and psychologically bruised. He told his mother that they have accused him of spying for foreign powers! These days Farangis khanum still goes to the court and the security services to demand the release of her son but she is in despair. She is looking for a dim light at the end of a long tunnel.Farangis did not wish to marry, have children, have a disabled husband, lose one child and have another in prison. She is one of the many in a traditional society which cuts short girls’ aspirations and ties them to marriage and children. These days Farangis khanum is thinking of the crimes she and her son Kaveh did not commit and yet are condemned to pay for. She became a mother by force. Loves her only son to bits and who has the right to take him from her?At nights before you go to sleep, think of Farangis. In the long winter nights think of a woman who is waiting for tomorrow to dress up and go to the court and the corridors of the security services to seek the release of her son.At night before you close your eyes, think of a woman that does not sleep.

Written by Bahareh Alavi, women's rights activist


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