“Gorgin Darre” is a village of Kermanshah, the capital of Kermanshah Province, and is located 525 kilometers (326 miles) from Tehran in the western part of Iran.
“Gorgin Darre”, for Ali Panahi, four-year-old boy is the whole world. Perhaps his simple life is like a nightmare for the modern people. The village is 35 km away from the nearest first city. This distance is the end of Ali’s world. Living in "Gorgin Darre" means farming, livestock rising and Opium consumption for everyone in every moment! Every vendor in "Gorgin Darre", in addition to bread and butter and yogurt, also sells opium.
Opium in Iran is widely available with low price; it costs far less in Iran than in the West, and is even cheaper than beer. 3 grams of opium can be purchased for 30,000 Iranian Rials, equivalent to $1 USD. Opium is popular because alcohol is haram (forbidden in Islam), and more tightly controlled by the Iranian Government. Opium and heroin from Afghanistan and Pakistan pass through Iran's eastern borders in large amounts, so total annual opium intercepts by the Iranian authorities are larger than in any other country.Iran has the highest per capita number of opiate addicts in the world at a rate of 2.8% of Iranians over age 15.The Iranian Government estimates the number of addicts at 2 million and according to UNODC estimates, 450 tons of opium are consumed in Iran each year.
Opium affects the life of Ali and other children in different ways. Opium in "Gorgin Darre" does not differentiate for age. Ali's parents and his 8-years-old sister, Mohaddeseh, and their guests, use drugs all together. Ali and the village children spend, all day, among the dusty roads and when return home, they will see a table and smoke spread in space. Smell of opium is the smell of life in “Gorgin Darre”.
The Wall of Smoke
When I open my eyes, the beautiful lady sun on the wall smiles at me and touch my skin with its shining ray of light. But I see nothing but the wall…
The struggle within bread and butter and tea just fades under the shadows of smoke, a smoke with horror shadows on the wall…
In my world, school is just one class with 7 children with no age restrictions. At this class, I build my dreams piece by piece as high as tomorrow. But it fades away in fug… no; its smoke as high as a wall.
My land is full of colors. My home town contains just 100 people. From the whole universe I only know “Gorgin Darraeh” village and the colors surrounding it. Love is beneath the knots of the wet carpet hanging on the wall.
My father, warm welcomes his guest. The happier the guests, the happier our land will be. To welcome the guest I laugh to the grey opium smoke evading around. The wave leaves my heart and fills the racks of the wall.
My future is vague as smoke, my dreams are short like the last breath of a butterfly and my destiny is colorless and deprived of colors around me, all left behind a wall.
The wall of smoke…