On these ten days a lot of great and fun things happened and you could get into different groups that did plays or sang revolutionary songs in front of the whole school or made wall mounted newspapers that would be used to decorate the school corridors. But my favourite thing to do was making maquettes. You would choose a scene from the revolution and you would make it into a three-dimensional model. It was great fun and every year I would get together with a few friends and we would make one of these.
The customary thing to do at our school was to draw the people on paper and then cut them out and stand them up on the base. But that year my mum had a great idea ‘Why not use chick peas for women’s heads?’ she said and took a chick pea and put two tiny dots on either sides of the beaklike part. Then we made a piece of wrapping paper into a cone shape and mounted the little chickpea head on the top and it looked like a chadored woman. It was a great idea but I was a bit worried about using them at first because I thought our religious studies teacher (that was also in charge of revolutionary activities) would get all funny about the fact that instead of wearing black chadors, the women in our demonstration were accessorizing with all sorts of different colour wrapping papers. At the end I gave in though because they just looked too good.
My friends and I spent a few days working very hard on our maquette and it was starting to look really great. When they left for their homes on the last day before it needed to be handed in, there was still a lot of work to be done and I stayed up half the night working on it.
On the morning we brought it in to school, all the kids gathered around us and we were told over and over again that our maquette was without a doubt the best one in school.
The best thing was that our religious studies teacher was absolutely delighted by the chickpea women. In fact she loved our maquette so much that she hugged us all and told us how proud of us she was.
In one of the breaks on that same day, our teacher came running up to us with a massive grin on her face. She said there was a national school art on revolution (or something like that) competition and she was going to enter our maquette in it. She said she had not said anything about it before because she had not thought that we being so young could come up with anything that could be entered in that competition but after she had seen our work, she had loved it so much that had called the organisers and had arranged to go there that day with our maquette.
I’m sure you can imagine how excited we got about this. And the best thing was that she said in a few days she would go to that place again and would take us with her so we could see our work exhibited in the gallery along with the other entries.
A few days past and we kept pestering our teacher about when she was going to take us to the exhibition place. But for some reason she was having problems organising the trip. At the end on the last day (on this day actually 21 Bahman 10th February), the day before the national holiday for the victory of revolution, our teacher finally managed to get the permission from school and hire a minibus to take us to the exhibition.
We knew we hadn’t won anything (because right from the start our teacher had made it clear that we had no chance since the older girls and boys from art schools, had made some really great things) but I still couldn’t help imagining that when we got there, there would be people nudging each other and saying, ‘Look it’s those girls that made that amazing maquette.’
‘You know, the chickpeas.’
‘Really? That’s fantastic! Why they are so young as well. I can’t believe it.’
‘Yes they are very talented.’
The exhibition place was nothing like I had imagined. It was a huge old house in the middle of a big garden and it was very spooky because apart from us four and our teacher there was no one else around.
Inside the house, there was artwork everywhere. There were paintings, sculptures and maquettes all over the place. Some of the maquettes were placed on tables and platforms but there were so many of them that some had just been left on the floor.
You could tell we were all very disappointed and quite shocked by the state we had found this place in but we all made out as if nothing was wrong and set out on the task of finding our beloved maquette that we had so lovingly made.
At first we went around together but the place was so big that we thought we would cover more ground if we were to split up so we each went our separate way. I was quite wary of doing that because a lot of the artwork there depicted scenes with people dying and a lot of blood and that sort of thing made me very uncomfortable.
In the second room I went to, behind all the maquettes I saw a bed like thing with a pair of boots sticking out of the end. I thought great, this is probably the person that is supposed to be manning the exhibition and he’s fallen asleep. So I went closer to see what the story was and if maybe there was a sort of order to this place that he knew about. I could not see the man because his whole body had been covered with a white sheet that had been drenched in something red where it was touching his face. It was either that this was a life size model of a dead body with its face blown off or this creepy house actually belonged to an Iranian version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family, what’s for sure is that this was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen in my life. Inside I was screaming but no sound was coming out. Finally when I pulled myself together I ran out of the room as fast as I could and then glued myself to the first girl I could find.
We looked and looked but we couldn’t find our maquette. At the end our teacher said we had to leave it and go back because it was getting late.
On our way out as we were going down the last flight of stairs, suddenly one of the girls said, ‘Oh my god, look.’ So we all looked down and there it was. Our beloved maquette had been tossed on the floor by the side of the stairs.
I had to try very hard to keep back my tears. It had been completely destroyed as if people had been walking on it and dogs had been using it as a chew toy. The boy that carried a picture of Khomeini had fallen on top of the woman in the white chador with red flowers (giving our revolutionary sisters brightly coloured chadors instead of black ones had indeed turned them into right tarts) who was now just a cone as her head was nowhere to be seen. The crow had fallen out of its nest and was now having some sort of struggle with the man in green shirt. The wall on the side had broken off and most of the chickpeas had left their posts as heads and where now rolling freely around the street. Altogether our peaceful demonstration had turned into carnage.