"Was it the right move to come to America?"
December 1, 2004
November 24th, 1978. Twenty-six years ago. Can't
help but relive that day every November 24th. That was the day
I was only 17. Hadn't shaved yet! I was attached
to my family, very strongly. It was and still is a very tight knit
the only one, that I
aunts and uncles on both father's and mother's side get along well.
have been a strong glue that keeps everyone together. I loved them and hated
to separate. I wasn't one of those young
men who was eager to get out of Iran. I had no desire or dream of going to
America. I remember my lack of excitement very well.
It was Dad's decision
and for the most part; it was final. I remember the night before
the flight how I cried and how my sister, Laleh, told me that
I couldn't say no to Dad.
The night before, all of my aunts, uncles and cousins
were there, I mean all! The next morning some 30 people came to
the airport with us and
there. I was the first member of our family to ever leave Iran. I was
the eldest male cousin on my father's side, and a very visible
on my mother's.
up to me.
I couldn't bear to see so many crying eyes in the
airport. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
I never forget
of a girl
in the crowd, "ger-ye nakon hamsafar" (don't cry fellow
traveler). I didn't want
The moments after I said goodbye to everyone and
went to the departure gate are still very vivid. The small, brown,
carry-on bag (full of pistachios and gaz) was hurting my shoulder.
I was wearing a very nice leather coat,
which my sister's boyfriend had given me. Italian pants and
thick, high-heel shoes. I may have looked cool,
but dying inside.
The trip was eventless. Kind of numbing. I talked
to an old father sitting next to me who was going to see his
daughter after many years
Talked to a young girl, perhaps my age; she was crying because
she was already missing her parents. The plane was full of young
the life ahead. It was one of the saddest moments I can remember.
remember how I thought JFK airport was New York City. Never
seen an airport so big. It was amazing. Because of the many
delays caused (as usual) by Iran Air,
we went to a local hotel and flew to Kansas City the next day.
the time I arrived in my new high school in Hays, Kansas, it
was after Thanksgiving and I had no idea what the hell had just
happened. One of the staff asked me if I was home-sick.
I answered, "NO, I'm
not sick." I was visibly disturbed and shaken.
later Kianoosh, another Iranian student at theschool, showed
What an ass! First thing he told
me was, "Khareh, 'home-sick' yani deltangi",
(home-sick means missing your home). "Oh, in that
case, yes, I'm home-sick," I said. I don't remember
if he translated that or not.
I sat in the
TV room. It was 6am. Students started pouring
in, watching TV, which I did not understand very well. It was
the TV room of the old Military Academy building were
nice and toasty.
Minutes later a loud bell went off and I started
following the kids. Kianoosh said, "breakfast." That
I understood! I was hungry.
Went down to the dining
room. Huge area with about 20 tables. I sat next to Kianoosh
and with my head bowed, I started
Thomas More was a Catholic
prep school. Big, old, stone buildings, quite nice, actually.
But I hated all the walls, doors, windows, and the smell
of it. It was not a home away from home. Breakfast was a
weird smells of sausage and bacon, totally unfamiliar to
me. I remember
I had some
milk and cereal that morning, corn flakes, which I also recognized!
months and years have gone by and I still remember the first
days. Did my father
make the right
have been involved in the revolution or the war if I had
stayed in Iran? Would I have
managed to stay alive? So many of my friends lost their
I have had the same fate?
In my last trip to Iran, just a few months
ago, my cousin, whom I'm very close to, told me for the first
involvement in the
war with Iraq in the 1980s. I remember
the family had tried to get him a desk job in Tehran,
so he wouldn't go to the war front. He told me he wanted
He said most
fought in the war, at least for the first couple
of years, because they
wanted to. It was a matter of national pride, defending
our soil. He said
age would happily put their lives up to defend
every inch of Iran from aggression.
With that, I came back with even more questions.
With a huge question, "Why
wasn't I there?"
So, every Thanksgiving, I am unsure: Should I give
thanks or not. Yes, I am thankful for a wonderful wife,
a happy life,
health, and so on. But I still miss home. I have asked
myself this question, at least
times, "Was it the right
move to come to America?"