Going to elementary school in Iran with a young, fresh, eager to learn mind, I did become brainwashed. Even though my parents at home had different views, I managed to believe every word the teachers thought me in the classroom. I believed in God, Mohammad, Ali, Hassan, Hossein, Zahra. I believed in praying 5 times a day, fasting once a year, the need to mourn for the dead prophets, and I believed that failing to do so will guarantee me a front row seat in hell. I believed it all. Being faced with my "un-supportive" parents at home I was not very successful with actually carrying out all the responsibilities I believed I must do.
I was in 4Th grade and my sister had come to Iran for a visit from America. It was her first visit back home and I did not know her very well. She must have been in her early 20's and to me she was so beautiful, sophisticated, smart and fascinating. I looked up to her. She smelled good and had these long beautiful crimson red nails.
In school we had to memorized the Quran. Pages and pages of words in Arabic which we did not understand. I was a good student and had it all down, I knew it by heart. But just to make sure not to make a fool out of myself in front of the class when I am standing by the chalk board reciting, I asked my sister to test me. So she took the book to read over while I would recite to her words that she would not understand either. The first thing I did was to remind her very seiously, "make sure you do not touch the words on this book, since you have not cleansed yourself (vuzu)"! I noticed her confusion, so I explained to her that it is a sin to touch the wholy words with your "unpure" hands. She looked at me with a smile on her face, and the next thing she did put me in shock. She took her white smooth hand with those long fingers and those beautiful red nails and put it on the page of the Quran and moved it back and forth from left to right. She said "like this"? I will never forget that moment, I was frozen with shock, awe, confusion, and fear! She continued on smiling and went back to trying to read the words, but I continued to wait for something to happen. I had never been so confused and scared. How could she do this? Doesnt she care? Honestly, I do not remember what happened after that. But I will never forget those long red nails going across the page and how I felt at that moment!