Jailed British mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has penned an emotional letter to her little girl from behind bars to mark her fifth birthday today.
Gabriella was a baby when her mum was jailed on bogus spy charges in Iran and the youngster has remained with her maternal grandparents in Tehran ever since.
Poignantly revealing Gabriella asked to celebrate her birthday “in prison so Mummy can come”, Nazanin, 40, tells her daughter how much her positivity keeps her strong.
The party was held on Sunday, when the youngster “lit up the visiting room”.
Nazanin’s campaigner husband Richard, from London, has been denied a visa to visit his wife or daughter since the arrest.
He explains Gabriella’s birthday is particularly heartbreaking for Nazanin because they always discussed bringing her back to the UK to start school when she turns five.
“Nazanin talks of she and Gabriella coming home together – I don’t think she has given up hope of that.”
Nazanin's letter in full
Every time I talk about you, I remember you as a baby. That is the part I remember well – the calmness, smiles, bubbles, happiness.
I remember all the positives in the times of hardship. I remember you.
My little girl, after all this time apart, I want to confess on your fifth birthday that there is sometimes little I know about you, even less I know about motherhood.
But every one of the past 1,165 days, I felt so lucky to be your mother.
The baby I gave birth to on the last hours of 11 June 2014, who patiently let Daddy and I sleep after her birth for almost eight hours without interruption, is still teaching me how to be patient and brave and to go through hard times in life.
She teaches me now that there is a silver lining in every cloud, and that there is a home, a very warm home waiting for us to go to, where Daddy has been waiting for us for over three years.
My most beautiful baby girl, you are wise beyond your age, with the most amazing imagination. You see the world in primary colours, you look out for the unicorns.
Your visits and smiles make my world brighter. I know we have been through dark years – perhaps the darkest of our lives – but we have had each other. No one can take us apart. No politics, walls, or even prisons.
I asked you where you wanted your birthday this year. ‘In prison’, you said, ‘so, Mummy, you can come.’
On Sunday we had a cake and sang happy birthday, and drew pictures of unicorns. You lit up the visiting room.
Until it was time to go. Your tears were so full. They stayed with us all. Nothing is worth your tears.
I know that the road to take us home might still be long. There might still be bumps. But we will go home. Together we will be a family again.
Life will be happy again, the sun will come out. We will get through the rain and the grey clouds. Let us trust this dream will come true soon.
Happy fifth birthday, my gorgeous, unicorn girl.
The world is a better place, a happier, wiser place with you born into it.
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