fter the agent posing as an American tourist was dragged into theTehranprison, a sense of foreboding settled on Yehudit. She watched as guards continued to patrol along the walkway and shoppers hurried past the ominous prison wall on their way to the nearby market. The poor beggar women trickled back to their places on the benches, wordlessly accepting her presence among them while continuing their chatter and matronly gossip.

No sign of the afternoon’s drama remained by evening. Sellers in the bazaar packed up their remaining merchandise and left, one by one. Without warning, a squad of Revolutionary Guards burst through the gates of Evin Prison and surrounded the covey of poor women on the benches. Roughly shoved and prodded across the road to the prison entrance, the frightened women crowded together.

Some wailed and other shrieked, but Yehudit kept her head down, making her way to the center of the group to be less conspicuous. Once inside the gates, the women were herded into a large, barred room for interrogation and ordered to be silent. An officer of some kind addressed them, randomly choosing individuals for questioning about what they had seen when the American tourist was arrested. Yehudit pretended she didn’t understand when the officer in charge pointed at her, barking a question. Dissatisfied with her response, the officer raised his baton to strike her.


The angry guard swiveled toward the female voice. “Who dares tell me what to do?” he raged.

“I am Shaheen Zadeh, “she replied with narrowed eyes. “I think that you have heard of my brother, Hamid Dabashi?” As Shaheen expected, the name struck terror into the guard’s heart.

He quickly lowered his baton to hide the trembling of his hands. “Dabashi is your brother?” His voice cracked as he thought of the infamous drug dealer. “And who is this woman to you?” he demanded, gesturing to the shapeless figure whimpering and cowering before him.

Dabashi’s sister gave Yehudit a glance. “She’s just simple. Can’t you see that for yourself? The poor thing doesn’t understand what you want from her.”

In her heart Yehudit thanked Hashem for saving her from a cruel beating. She edged closer to her protester, who patted her arm affectionately. Angry, but not daring to cross the sister of the terrifying Hamid Dabashi, the guard left the room.