My name is Leila. I'm a lesbian from Iran. I migrated to Britain a few years ago. I was a teacher in my country and the story which I want to tell happened in mid 1980s when I was in my twenties.
In order to make my story understandable for a foreign reader, I should explain the situation of those years.
Shortly after the 1979 revolution, a theocratic dictatorship began which harshly oppressed the women in Iran. In 1980, a war began between Iran and Iraq.
Since the government couldn't provide sufficient military hardware for its army, the army had to rely on human waves.
Masses of humans had to be brainwashed into believing that they are fighting in a holy war and if they die they go straightly to heaven.
But what kind of place was this heaven?
According to Islamic clergy, heaven is a paradise full of tasteful food,
beautiful palaces and Houris - mindless sex slaves who always stay virgin and unconditionally offer themselves to faithful people!
The government used propaganda to encourage martyrdom. Since it's a little hard to brainwash a grown man with that promise, the propaganda mostly targeted children.
Brainwashed child soldiers were suitable for human waves since they made submissive cannon fodders.
There was even a lesson in school books about a 13 year old child soldier who tied grenades to himself and jumped under a tank!
I'm ashamed to admit I had to teach such lessons at school without realizing their effects on my students.
Back then, I had made a small safe world for myself which was separated from the rest of society. Nobody cared about me and I didn't care about anyone else either, except for my partner Faranak.
She and I were friends since our childhood. We grew up together, went to school together, realized that we were lesbians together and became partners in secret.
She was also a teacher and worked in the same school with me. We are still together after all these years. Our families were close too.
Back then single women weren't allowed to live alone and homosexual relationship was a cardinal sin which could lead to execution as well.
So, Faranak and I found a solution: we used our small houses as an excuse to ask our families to allow us rent a small unit in the apartment which my family was living in it.
Since our new house was just across the corridor, in front of the old one, my family didn't really saw it as me and Faranak living independently.
For them, it was more like adding a room to the house which provided more space for the family. Faranak's family was also okay with that for similar reasons.
Thus, I managed to create a safe place for myself and my love to live freely and happily.
The government of Iran enforced mandatory Hijab for women and was extremely harsh on women teachers. We had to cover all of our body except for face and hands with thick black clothes.
On the outside, I was a strict Muslim woman who dressed in black and preached the governmental propaganda at school.
On the inside, I was a sexy lesbian who listened to western music and went to bed with another woman every night.
One summer I had to teach for the students who had failed their exams.
Unlike the educational year before the summer when classes were very crowded, my class only had 10-12 students who had failed in their Mathematics exam.
I tried very hard to educate them, but it was useless.
I dressed in a thick black veil in an extremely hot summer, went to school,
spent several hours teaching Mathematics and gave them a small booklet which was simplified as much as possible and contained anything they needed to know to fully answer
every single question in the final exam. But all that was to no avail. They never listened. Their minds were not in the class.
I had become well acquainted with them. They were good people. Some of them had jobs and were providing for their families.
We were at a relatively poor neighbourhood and as a result of hard life their faces looked much older than their age.
Some of them had really believed the governmental propaganda and expressed desire for going to the war fronts. That saddened me.
I felt that I couldn't just hide in my little safe place with my love and ignore the outside world. Faranak - who didn't worked on that summer - agreed with me as well.
She encouraged me to motivate them. Failing could have meant no future for them. Most of them probably would have ended their education after that.
They had all the material means for passing the exam. All they needed was reading my booklet thoroughly and carefully for once or maybe twice. But that was too much to ask.
They had failed the pervious exam not because they were stupid or lazy, but because they felt that there is no point in schooling.
The "heroic" lifestyle which was propagated back then for a student was abandoning education, becoming a religious zealot who sacrifices himself for the ruling government,
goes to heaven and finds Houris waiting for him there!
At the last session I tried one last time to educate them. I explained a simple question which I was planning to put on the final exam.
But when I asked them to repeat my solution, there was no response, as if I had talked only for myself!
So, I resorted to my final solution: a motivation.
I knew they were close friends, so I said "if you all pass the exam I will buy you cookies and if you all get a high grade I will buy you ice cream".
I meant to motivate them to work together and encourage each other for studying harder. But they started laughing.
One of them said "how about giving us pacifiers? Those work better for us!" another one said "get a lollipup for me!" and another one said "I want a bedtime story!" I realized my mistake.
They were not little children. I couldn't motivate them with candies. I felt stupid and embarrassed. How could I have made such a mistake?
As I was processing my mistake in shame and regret, I heard another voice. "What if we all get the highest grade?" that was surely not a serious question. They wanted to mock me some more.
I really don't know how it happened or what I was thinking; maybe I felt so belittled that I felt compelled to give a mind-blowing answer to put them in their place; maybe after realizing
how childish my original promise was,
I decided replace it with a grown up one; maybe I meant to challenge their manly pride by offering them something that rejecting it would have hurt that pride and belittled them instead
of me; or maybe it was a combination of all these reasons. But at any case I gave the following answer: "If that happens, I will get naked and do an Arabic dance for you all!"
Suddenly the laughter and buzz stopped. They all stared at me with their eyes wide open and mouths half open.
After few seconds someone replied "seriously?" and I answered "of course! You think I'm a liar?" at that moment I felt powerful for silencing them and ending their mocking.
Now it was them who needed to defend their manly pride.
In their minds, turning down an offer like that would have meant that they are not interested in women!
And since one person's failure would have meant no prize for the rest, that put extra pressure on them for working hard to get it!
They made me sewer that I will do it.
When some of them objected that fulfilling my requirement was impossible, I assured them that there will be no question which they can't answer if they understand my booklet perfectly.
I promised to dance for them and to make it more believable, I reduced my promise from dancing buck naked to dancing in bra and panty.
They all agreed to study as hard as they can in order to get the highest grade possible which wasn't very hard to achieve if they really tried.