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Anyone going back home?
On paper, I am a resident of Iran

By Hamid Rafi
October 12, 1999
The Iranian

I have seen it all. Today is my anniversary of becoming a foreigner. I have spent half of my 28 years in Iran, half outside (France, Germany and the U.S.). I have met people of all colors; whites, black, yellow, pink. I have lived with the French, Germans, Italians, Americans, Asians, Africans and others. I have so many friends that I will never feel alone again.

I have seen it all. The other day I was given a window office at work with a view of Long Beach airport. I think I stared out the window for at least a couple of hours. It felt good. I looked at the planes taking off one after another. Is anyone going back home?

Fourteen years have past and I have been staring and staring out different windows. Am I ready to spend my 15th year abroad? Should I celebrate or make it sound like a tragedy? I have been a foreigner for all these years. My passport says I am a resident of Iran. Resident on paper.

I have seen it all. The revolution; tear gas on the streets where I used to play as a child. Horrible war stories were my bed-time stories. The sound of Iraqi bombs are all too familiar after all these years. The 14th of July in Paris or the 4th of July in San Francisco mean the same. They are nowhere near my 22nd of Bahman, or whatever they call it these days.

I have seen it all. The old German lady staring into my eyes and telling me to get out of her country. And the French classmates who had never met me and yet kept writing to me like I was their best friend. Or my neighbor in Germany who still thinks I live there although I moved to the U.S. about 10 years ago.

I have seen it all. The son of the labouie chasing me in the streets of Tehran to steal my French beret. He ended up throwing it in the joub! The hat had a really nice navy blue color.

I have seen it all. Through the windows of life, you can only think about one thing: the return to freedom.

I just got an email from my boss; there has been a mistake. I have to move to an office without any windows. It's okay. But now I have seen the window, the view, felt the freedom. Can I go back or will I carry on? I have seen it all.

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