Dinner with a Dissident

Now you are going to have to forgive me. I’ve been 3 weeks with the good intention of writing this post. Unfortunately, it only remained an intention until today! Well lucky you, you’re in the right place at the right time.

It was Christmas Day and to be honest I was feeling more than a little stressed. Jude and I have had this tradition of inviting various people to our house for Christmas dinner. That’s fine, until the family shows up and suddenly you have people coming out of your ears. Over the years we’ve had homeless people, hungarians, lonely elderly people. This year, the theme was definitely Iranian. In particular, I want to talk about one of them, I’ll call him S for anonymity.

Sometimes you meet someone and you realise that thier story is particularly special. That can be for a number of reasons, hardship, courage, heroism, many things can make a tale stand out. In this case it was the sheer shock value and determination of the individual involved. I want to tell you a little of their story.

S was demonstrating as a student against the Iranian government. He is a cool, well spoken and well educated young man. Quite recognisable in many ways. This was to prove a problem for him. A few days later one of his friends was piced up by the authorities and then tortured. During this terrible time, S’s name was mentioned. As such, the authorities came after him.

S had no choice but to flee. He initially fled to Turkey as that is a country which accepts Iranian citizens without a visa. From there, he paid a people smuggler to get him somewhere into Western Europe. He didn’t face a choice in this, to stay in turkey means a possible return to Iran.

After 32 days of boats, car boots, trucks and other modes of transport (can you believe that! read that again!) he was deposited in Yorkshire. Whereby he was immediately sent to a dentention centre for immigrants.

I met S at my house for Christmas Dinner and listened avidly to his story. He was not bitter, but he was worried. He was concerned that he would not be able to stay in the UK. After everything he has been through, the biggest hurdle is the government and our insane asylum laws.

I feel quite priveledged that life sends these people my way. So many miss out by not spending the time really listening to people. Too much rushing around and too many high powered thoughts to care for anyone. I don’t believe that is the way to live.

For me, my dinner with a dissident was shocking, revealing and ultimately a priveledge that I could share something of someones life and struggle.

Try it sometime.

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