Friday, April 25, 2014

Vengeance Has Left My Heart

You remember her, of course.
If you don't, go immediately and read this post.  I'll wait.  Back now?  Cool.

CNN told us her name was Maryam Hosseinzadeh, though Saeed Kamali Dehghan in the Guardian calls her Samereh Alinejad.  Whatever her name is, apparently people are now referring to her as "their mum." 

Which is, when you think about it, perfectly understandable.

Anyhow, and whatever her name or whatever you call her, you'll recall that she couldn't bring herself to forgive the killer.  Dehghan puts it this way.
Furious in her grief, she was determined Balal would hang.
But her son, killed by Balal seven years ago now, didn't want vengeance.
But as Balal's execution date drew nearer, Abdollah appeared to his mother in a series of vivid dreams.
"Ten days before the execution was due, I saw my son in a dream asking me not to take revenge, but I couldn't convince myself to forgive," she told the Guardian. "Two nights before that day, I saw him in the dream once again, but this time he refused to speak to me."
Still she would not, could not, forgive.

When she climbed up onto that scaffold, it wasn't to slap Balal and forgive him.  It was to be the avenging angel.  The executioner.
Iran's Islamic penal code allows the victim's heir – "walli-ye-dam" – to personally execute the condemned man as Qisas(retribution) – in this case by pushing away the chair he was standing on.
She Noose around his neck, support gone from his feet, Balal would be hanged.  Probably slowly and painfully, twisting and struggling, hands tied behind his back, desperately trying to find a way to breathe as he strangled to death.  She would have her time.
Seconds away from what could have been his final breath, Balal pleaded for his life and called out for mercy. "Please forgive," he shouted, "if only for my mum and dad," Alinejad recalled. "I was angry, I shouted back how can I forgive, did you show mercy to my son's mum and dad?"
There are those who imagine  that killing Balal, especially getting to do it herself, would bring some level of satisfaction.  Closure they call it.  A kind of peace.  She'd have evened the score.  Tie game. That's what it's all about.  A life for a life.  Blood will have blood.

Instead, as you know,
Balal's fate then took an unexpected turn. Alinejad clambered up on a stool and rather than pushing away his chair, slapped him across the face.
Which led to the extraordinary.
"After that, I felt as if rage vanished within my heart. I felt as if the blood in my veins began to flow again," she said. "I burst into tears and I called my husband and asked him to come up and remove the noose." Within seconds, as Abdolghani unhooked the rope from Balal's neck, he was declared pardoned.
And there's yet more.
Balal's mother Kobra, sobbing, reached across the fence separating the crowd from the execution site, and embraced Alinejad before reaching to kiss her feet – a gesture of respect and gratitude. "I didn't allow her to do that, I took her arm and made her stand up … she was just a mother like me, after all."
"[J]ust a mother like me."

Every execution brings new mourners, after all.  New collateral damage.  How necessary that the family of the killed must make new widows, new orphans, new parents to lose a child.  By god, they must suffer as we did!

And from that they expect comfort, peace.  

She who saved the life of he who took her son's.  She knows better.
One week after pardoning Balal, Alinejad has found a peace lost since her son's death. "Losing a child is like losing a part of your body. All these years, I felt like a moving dead body," she said. "But now, I feel very calm, I feel I'm at peace. I feel that vengeance has left my heart."

Calm.  At peace.
I feel that vengeance has left my heart.
It's OK.  You can cry if you want to.


  1. I wonder what would happen if we had a system like that in the U.S.

  2. They do execute a hell of a lot of people in Iran.

  3. Yes, I´m convinced that alot of murder victims´ relatives would have had no problem with going on with the execution,
    and I wouldn´t even judge them for that. As this mother tells, it´s very hard to forgive, and in such a terrible thing like a
    murder, it probably feels nearly impossible for most people.

    But this story is indeed absolutely touching and impressive.
    Thank you for sharing, Mr. Gamso, and my utmost respect for this woman.

    Greetings from over the pond!

  4. Allison Williams Esq.April 28, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    I think after a certain point of time, the intensity of the pain and the angst subsides. No doubt there's still a void and love for the departed. But eventually with time, people start looking at things with a different perspective. At the end, it's the loss of the faith departed that we grief and mourn about but they will never come back.