Nazanin: A letter to my daughter

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian charity worker, was at the airport returning to the UK when she was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and put in an Iranian prison.

This is a translated version a letter Nazanin wrote to her daughter Gabriella. It was posted on her husband Richard's petition

My Gisou, my sweet daughter,

Forgive me for the distance and for all the moments of loneliness that both of us, or rather, the three of us endured. Forgive me for all the nights I was not by your side to hold your warm, little hand till you fall asleep. Forgive me for all those moments you missed the bosom of your mother, for all those teething fever nights that I was not there for you; forgive me.

My golden Gisou, forgive me for that first week of our separation, when neither of us knew what was happening, and when you were burning in fever as your way of protesting separation from your mother’s bosom. Forgive me for they took you away not just from your mother, but from your father too.

Believe me, I could never imagine you would experience such anguish in a country where your mother came into this world and grew. Had I known, I would never have hurried to pack our suitcase for that two week trip to Tehran last March. That moment of farewell to your father at Gatwick, that cold day of reluctant spring, when you sweetly and naughtily gave him a hug and a kiss on his check, how could I even imagine destiny would strike us separate so long?

The day they, unfairly and unjustly, took you away from my bosom, when I’d been breastfeeding you until only a few days before. That day they promised freedom the following morning. I did not know or imagine in what faith or school of ethics, such injustice to a mother and her little child is acceptable. That day that morning hope of freedom was nothing but a lie.

My sweet girl, the sound of your laughter, has been ringing in my ears these past months, becoming one with me. Caressing your hair and listening to your velvety voice have been denied to me for many days become months. As those moments piled up, they have turned into giant black clouds pouring every night and every day like Monsoon rain, constantly with no power in me to stop.

Did they not hear long nightly whimpers of a mother? - those who issued a guilty verdict and to achieve their ends accused me, reproached me and locked me up in solitary confinement? The calls that have reached the ears of thousands and thousands of people throughout the world have not been heard here, in the country where I was born.

It is a story that people, far beyond borders that surround us, listened to, cried over and protested at the injustice we have been put through. Yet silence is the response of those who rule in my country.

My beautiful girl, on that warm day in June 2014, when you opened your eyes to this world for the first time, I could not know you, so young, would soon be subjected to a big lesson, a lesson of pain and suffering. Humans are born with pain and life is not what we always expect it to be. Yet patience is a legacy passed on from one generation. Ours never runs out.

Throughout the past ten months, I woke up every morning with the hope of returning home and holding you to my heart. I went to sleep every night with the dream of freedom in the morning. Still there is a flame in me that fires every night with hope of inhaling your warm breath and fades every morning in the hope of seeing and embracing you.

The day that I passed you on to the loving arms of my parents, you were too young and unable to comprehend dark reality of separation. You still don’t. Who does understand a reality that would separate you, me and your father from one another for months, maybe years.

My darling, with every new tooth you grew, every new word you learned, every step your climbed without help, every centimeter you grew, and the day you put on your dress by yourself, ate your meal without help, learned your first poem, drew your first drawing, learned colours in two languages, I was happy. But I also cried. My heart burned in this injustice. I had missed days that would not return and I was powerless as they went. I had to accept and surrender to reality as it was.

My Gisou, forgive me for not being with you on your second birthday, for not being granted a brief phone call. But I know although you were denied my warm hug, your father arranged a big birthday party for you there with our friends and family. A celebration that neither of your parents could join with you, but I’m happy that at least your grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncle in Tehran tried to fill for you the empty places of your father and me.

I will wait more, a little more. But one day you must listen to all I have to say. One day I will tell you the story of all these lonely days, the story of pain and separation. There will come a day when we will throw away all these bitter and old memories, all that is decayable and only keep the lessons we learned from them. You, I and your father will never succumb to this hurricane of fate. The love we share knows no boundaries and walls. It is our life. There will come a day that we will be able to live fresh all the days of our lives. Life can be separated into tiny pieces, each being life by itself, living again going to the park, drawing, making shapes with play dough, reading a story, eating ice cream, even laughing out loud from the top of a slide…

There will come a day when I will learn if strawberries and blueberries are still your favourite fruit, if orange is still your favourite colour. Maybe they are no longer.

My darling, do not sulk at separation. As happiness is not forever, sorrow and separation do not last either. Nader Ebrahimi says in A Gentle Love Song: Good and bad are moral values, not historical ones. We get all our senses - of good and evil, tyranny or justice, decadence or piety, hate or love toward other humans, not from history, but from the spring of our moral beliefs, conceived before history records.

My daughter, never think about passage of time. Only the defeated lament at the cruel plunder of time. We will defeat time, faith and hope are a sword in its stone heart.

My Gisou, there will come a day that we will be together again and tenderly hold one another’s loving hands. If time has deprived us of these days of togetherness and denied your father and me these days of your childhood, we do not fear. They can’t take away from us our memories. They can’t take our dreams for future.

Injustice will not remain unaccounted. But it is love that kept us together in these most difficult times, and love will bring us together again.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Evin Prison, 24 January 2017

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As somebody, who knows islamic government's identity and and has experienced their methods to press others to get some points,am really sorry for you and your family, specially your sweet baby. Hope all your family can feel peace, away from all political playings that are so funny to politicians, but all problems of their funnies are for innocent ones like you!

toofanaryan 7 years ago

Dear Nazanin and Richard - I realise the chances of Nazanin seeing this are very low but I just want to express my heartfelt feelings for the both of you, your little daughter and all those of your family. Few of us can imagine what it must be like to be unjustly accused and incarcerated and deprived of one's family. Let me assure you so many of us are thinking of you and working to get Nazanin released and reunited with her family. Our prayers and efforts are with you - please don't give up hope. All our love - Paul + family

pjmcq57 7 years ago

Dear Nazarin, Gabriela, Richard and all your family,

I don´t have any words, because your situation is so unbelievably sad, but I want to tell you that I feel with all of you and send you a big big hug. I promise I will do everything I can to help to free Nazarin.
As a mother myself with my youngest son being just a little bit younger than Mazarin, I admire your strength which I can feel when I read your letter to your daughter. I am sure she feels how much you love and miss her and what a great woman her mother is.
I hope so much that you will be reunited soon!!!
Love, Corinna

corinnakues 7 years ago

Nazanin and Richard,keep hoping.One day you will be all together again.
You are not alone.we are thinking of you.
Lots of love

sabinestaples 7 years ago

The fact that in order to post this comment l had to try 3 times, reminds us that perseverance in all things brings success. I wish perseverance and success to you and all who strive for your freedom.
Your words about captivity and transcending time and place and history are so true and are the same subjects l have written about because estrangement from one's children is a shocking and terrible thing; as a mother all your thoughts are for your daughter's suffering, and this is how it is for any parent who is forced by circumstances beyond their control to be separated from a child. Yet love cannot be broken, and you can survive this, and continue to be you, because nothing stays the same forever, and, as you remind us, time cannot contain a thing.
I hope you will be allowed to read, and that this message reaches you.

hermione.laake 7 years ago

Hello Nazanin
What a very moving and beautiful letter you wrote last month!
I will continue to fight for your release.
Stay strong and remember that you have so many of us thinking of you.
My love and best wishes

Mrs Pat 7 years ago

Dear Nazanin and Richard
So many of us experience such deep empathy with the suffering caused to you and your beloved daughter by this unjust imprisonment. Hold on to that faith, love and hope for your future together dear family.
With love and thoughts of strength and encouragement to you
South Wales UK

angela_11 7 years ago

Thank you for letting us read this beautiful letter. Love shines from it like a light. Your family is strong. Thinking about you all.

annecolledge 7 years ago