My Life as a Traitor

by Ghahramani, Zarah

When the blindfold is removed, the first thing my vision registers is the face of the man who is to be my interrogator. He knows the impact his appearance will have on a young woman, really a child, snatched from the streets without warning. He knows everything about my terror. Born in 1981, Zarah Ghahramani grew up in a sheltered suburb of Tehran. The pampered daughter of liberal, middle-class parents, she was brought up to believe that education was no less a vital priority for girls than for boys, and was encouraged to read widely and ambitiously. She had the natural teenage enthusiasms of girls the world over. But along with all the women of her generation, she had to dress in muted colours, and cover her hair in order to observe the strict rules of the Khomeini regime. It was part youthful zeal and part teen crush that led Zarah to join a student protest movement: like everyone, she was in awe of Arash, the firebrand student who led the protests and was known to be an irritant to the regime. But her dabble with student politics was to lead to disaster when one day she was bundled into a car and taken to Tehran’s most notorious prison: Evin. Home was now a windowless concrete cell. But it was a refuge from her two interrogators: one vile and coarse, more animal than man, the other smoother, more apparently civil, but just as ruthless. Day after day she was humiliated and viciously beaten. In My Life as a Traitor Zarah tells the story of her horrifying ordeal and her eventual release, and describes the ways it changed the naive 19-year-old she once was into a woman of courage and determination.