Pomegranates and apples
January 31, 2005
I just got finished reading Azam Nemati's "I'll
show you Persian!", and I have to admit that she did not
lived up to her very well deserved reputation as the consummate
mean-spirited person. I would have used the word "bitch" as
she did in when describing another
lady, but my mother finds it disturbing when I express myself
One thing that is clear is that Ms. Nemati is very sensitive and
protective of her identity. She doesn't want anyone to insult
her or it. I almost feel like dropping to one knee and saying to
her, "but Azam, your Imperial Iranian-ness, don't
you remember what you told me last year?" Remember when you
wrote me that "it takes two Iranians to make a real Iranian
product." She savagely denied me what she so proudly claimed
for herself in her article, the right to be who she wants to be...
a proud Iranian.
She probably doesn't even remember, but she told me that
I was not a real Iranian because my father isn't Iranian.
It didn't matter to her that my mother taught me Farsi from
the cradle. It didn't matter to her that my ancestors are
buried in Iran, like hers. It didn't matter to her that
I proudly professed my love of Iran which was one of my mother's
sweetest gifts to me. No, the only thing that mattered to
Ms. Nemati was that I was a half-breed.
That fact alone justified her in striping me of any claim to my
heritage or birthright. She scalded me terribly at the time with
her caustic opinion, but I learned a valuable lesson from her;
and that is that it just doesn't matter what other people
think. Ms. Nemati can't help herself... she is just full
of stinkin' thinkin' most the time. She hurts people
with acidic anecdotes almost weekly. That she disapproves
of Ameranians and other Iranian half breed mixes is just consistent
with her hateful character.
While we can't change the way she thinks about us, we can
change the way we think about ourselves. I am glad to say that
I no longer care what she thinks of me whatsoever. I am what I
am and I'm darned proud of it. My problem right now is that
everyone else in my life wants me to be what they want me to be.
My father, whom I love more than
any man in the world, tells me to be proud of being an Aryan. With
his graying blond hair and
twinkling blue eyes he often whispers to me that the real Aryans
came from Northern Europe. He whispers because he knows my mother
would vigorously disagree with him. My mother, on the other hand,
doesn't really care about all that Aryan crap, but just
to keep up with my father, she pulls me to the side now and then
to remind me that I shouldn't argue with my dad, but that
the real Aryans settled in Iran. When I remind her that the word
Ireland means "Land of the Aryans" just like the word
Iran does, she changes the subject. They are probably both right,
but I would like to tell them both I don't give a damn about
any Aryans. They haven't done anything for me lately and
I have enough to worry about just doing my homework every day.
This identity thing doesn't stop with my parents though.
Both of my grandfathers want to tie my identity to fruit. I guess
when men get too old to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh they start
fixating on fruit. My grandpa in America is always trying to shove
apple pie down my throat. I love him and I know he loves me, but
I think he has always worried about whether I was completely American.
He tells me every time that he pulls one of those damned apple
pies out of his refrigerator that all real American boys love apple
pie. When I tell him that it makes me want to puke, he tears up
and acts as if I've rejected outright the 50% of me that
is comprised of my American DNA.
Then there is my baba bozorg in Tehran. I love him. He is a wonderful
man, but I am dreading my next trip in a couple of months to see
him because I know he is going to turn into a pomegranate maniac.
He is always trying to get me to eat those damn things. He and
my mother conspire together to coax me into joining one of their
annar eating orgies. My baba bozorg tells me that all real Persian
boys love eating annar. He just doesn't listen when I tell
him that cutting one of those red things in half and picking at
the blood red seeds reminds me of Japanese people who think that
eating chilled monkey brains right from the opened skull of a dead
monkey head is a delicacy. I want to scream at both of my grandfathers
that I am more than the sum of their fruit bowls. I am a person.
I am not a pie or a pomegranate.
Why not let people be whomever and whatever they want to be? Is
there anything wrong with that? If Ms. Nemati is right and it does
in fact take two Iranians to make a real Iranian product, then
I will never be an Iranian. According to the same logic,
however, I will never be a real American since my mother isn't
a real American product. She's most definitely a product
So, what am I? It's no one's damn business except mine. I am
what I want to be. I am me!!! I am not an Iranian, I am not an
I am not a Northern Aryan or
Aryan, I am not an apple pie and I am not a pomegranate. I am
just plain ole Lance Raheem, a kid in high school, trying to grow
without hurting other people's feelings. I am a very proud
half breed and that is what I will always be. Isn't that
all any of us should be? Shouldn't we all be proud of who
we are without feeling the need to put other people down and
hurt their feelings, like some over zealous Americans and over
Iranians do when it comes to them expressing their ethnic or
patriotic pride. I for one will have none of it. Such people are
regardless if their flag is red, white and blue, or red, green
I am happy that Ms. Nemati relishes in her Iranian-ness.
I congratulate her. Why I celebrate her ethnic pride, I can't
feel a bit sad for her though. I know that no matter what she
ever does or accomplishes in her life in America that, like me,
she nor her son, whom she talks about frequently in her articles,
will ever be real Americans. Remember according to the Nemati
Rule of Procreation it takes two Americans to make a real apple
pie and it takes two Iranians to make a real pomegranate.