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Memory strands

By Siamak Kiarostami
May 19, 2000
The Iranian

My friend and I are Iranian
Though we are the sons
Of different people and worlds
Last night we were speaking about being
Prisoners to nostalgia
And other feelings
that lead nowhere
Last night my friend and I were talking about Iran.

It is a topic as old as we are,
Saffron colored with age
He sees it as such-
The Revolution was the
Adolescence of a great nation

He has the memories of his uncles--
He imagines
Half-full bottles of Shams beer left
Still cold on beaches of shomal-e Iran
And an unfinished joint
Hastily stubbed out on
The Paradise that was taking shape
along the shores of the Caspian.

He sees an entire generation left
He asks what happened
to the beginnings of the
brown thighs rock and roll
and Economic Progress.
A clumsy Shah promised?

I do not think our parents lived in the same country
For I was raised with the idea
That the Revolution was the most heroic
Of all Iranian heroics
I have the memories of my father-
I imagine
It was the battle that Che Guevara would have loved to lead
The passion of 20 million in the streets with
An anger the First World could taste
for reasons the rest of the world would understand.
That was the Iranian Revolution.

I too see an entire generation left
I ask myself how it happened
That in the end
Impostors were able to impose themselves
Onto the unfinished dreams
Of untold generations?

The night went on, we continued talking.
We were philosophers,
we invited each other to our ideas.
Perceptions were as sharp as triangles
We sensed that twenty years ago, had we been the same age,
we would not have been able
to have this conversation.
Twenty years is what it took for our parents
To raise their children as they did
Twenty years is all we've had to absorb
Entire histories, for us
Twenty years is how long it has been
Since Time began.

Twenty years have added wrinkles
To a special generation
And Seen the birth of a new one.

This generation of Iranians is
Held hostage
To linguistic limitations
And to memories of
how much bigger fruit grew back home-
Hostage to ill-construed American notions
Of how to look homeward and
To the taste of pre-revolutionary pomegranates
that never will exist in America.

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Comment to the writer Siamak Kiarostami


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