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Blessed by bademjan
Damn! She would be scarfing down my khoresht!

By Heather-ley Peckham
November 27, 2002
The Iranian

What was with her! I only wanted to mend that tiff we got into four months ago about this restaurant tab thing! Hey we both were going to school, and aside from that exhilarating warm afternoon we spent sipping martinis by the seashore and feasting on crab legs, our salaries usually could only afford us rice and hotdogs!

Not on this day. We were eatin right! But when the delightful afternoon ended with a horrendous bill, she refused! Refused to tip! Typical of her, stubborn as she is. Well whatever, I thought while my Irish inherited temper began to boil. I jumped from my chair, paid it, and took off! Left her behind in a breeze of anger with more intensity than any tropical winds could have simulated off that great ocean flat!

Now I was making a plea for forgiveness, or rather I was asking for our friendship back. Granted, neither of us was right. Refused again, the arrogance! I wasn't about to make another fool of myself and surrender to her stubbornness. Instead, we continue to see each other at work on a weekly basis, but never quite look each other in the face. It's a terrible battle separated by a thin layer of hatred and silenced by a peace agreement we seemed to have developed while accidentally bumping elbows at work resisting a blowout.

But, why suddenly has it become so difficult for us to reconcile and get along? After all, we have spent our entire childhood in cahoots with each other. The Bobsy Twins, we were practically inseparable. Aside and never apart. Our obvious physical differences concluded we were not related. I being the fair curly haired blonde girl with round blue eyes and freckles, and she being the strong-featured black haired beauty, with dark skin and exotic black eyes.

We were practically sisters. We shared the same thoughts, finished each other's sentences, and shared some of the best moments of our lives together. Our up bringing consisted of Saint Patrick Day candy searches every year at my house, and fire jumping Norooz every year at hers. We were like potatoes and pomegranates, but blended nicely. Bred from two completely different worlds, but brought together, must be, by some viable force to show the world we can indeed unit and become one in the same.

So I ask, why was it becoming so difficult for us to get along? Or did it have to come to this? We were indeed getting older, but were we seeing our relationship in a different light? Were we, dare I say it, growing apart?

Alexander the Great once tried to join East and West together to form a harmonious world society. Aside from this obvious failure he would endure by hoping to conquer the world, were his wishes of assimilating the two a ridiculous prospect because we are indeed so different? That our blatant differences cause a conflict of interest because we simply cannot grasp the complexity of our separate ways of thinking.

This failure to understand each other, could it be that our ideas ignite each other's because they are simply triggered by an unshared emotion that leaves us in constant disagreement? This Idea of old world thought and new world thought could they never be assimilated? And, could it be these differences are not just learned behavior, but a pattern lined in our DNA like a sort of inescapable genetic memory.

Could this possibly be the underlining problem why we cannot co-exist comfortably with ease with one another? Is their some sort of naturist value to this set-up? Were we the human race made to permanently exist on this earth, or does Mother Nature forge intentions for us to banish each other from the planet forever? - Okay maybe that's taking it a little far, but why can't we just all get along!

I read a recent article on [Bev Pogreba's My husband claims she was the perfect wife], about a Western woman gracious enough to open her heart and share a valuable lesson in meeting her husband's Iranian mother, and the challenges she endured while weary of acceptance because she was a Westerner and choose an artful path in life as a belly dancer. Okay, so belly dancing doesn't exactly rank highly on the social scale, but come on, is that any grounds to judge a person?

The mother was hesitant at first to subside to her son's chosen wife, but after some time she seemed to win a trifle of her affection. As an American who's had a fair dose of Iranian culture, to me, this was an amazing story, and one I cherish. This woman was so lovely to have cared to gain the respect of this man's mother. And what an extraordinary woman to have seen past the flaws of her daughter-in-law and give her a chance to be accepted.

Today I read some pretty nasty responses to what I thought was a wonderful story. The responses brought up racial elements seemingly to have erupted in the article according to some reader's perspectives. I can understand the wife expressed a somewhat biased Western opinion on her contact with the ancient Iranian world, but should we shun her for thinking like a Westerner? Would it surprise Iranians who disagreed with this woman's tactic that she doubtfully meant to offend?

This brings me back to these differences we seem to face. And those of you cynical minded readers ready and aimed for fire mind you I've done my research and this opinion is shared and felt widely by many. We simply take and relay information differently. Could we possibly put aside nasty comments, and instead of reprimanding an individual because they lack insight into a culture that is little known to them, redirect their choice of words and try to teach one about his/her lack of courtesy.

Are we all just stubborn? Now back to the story.

Zahra and I faced with our new discrepancy find it hard to overcome this simple battle. Perhaps we should just learn to grow up a bit, or maybe we think so much alike we understand each other's stubbornness all to well and refuse to give in to the stronger mind!

A while back her mother and I had an agreement: I buy the meat, and she'll cook the stew. Tonight was the night! I spoke briefly with Zahra's mother over the phone before I made my long journey to work (long because I knew what awaited me), and when we hung up I was destined to feel the warmth of fresh hot Khoresht in my mouth.

I was inspired to work hard, and be rewarded with the slivers of heaven that called to me all evening I could almost smell the invitation! I worked up an appetite, but destroying it slowly was she! She knew! She knew about the stew and was determined to beat me at my own game of allowing her mother cook for me! I knew her all to well, and I immediately knew what she was up to!

We were dismissed from work at 2am! I gathered my things as quickly as possible with no time for goodbyes, and rushed to my car. Damn! She was gone already, and soon she would be scarfing down my khoresht! I raced to the neighboring town where my khoresht awaited me.

The twenty-minute drive seemed to take forever. Finally, I pulled up to the driveway. Her car was suspiciously parked. The windows were rolled completely down, and the gassy engine seemed overheated as if she raced the clunker unafraid of its lurking death. I parked, shut the car door, and then caught my breath.

While I was walking toward the door it dawned on me that perhaps I didn't belong here, and that this land, this territory, and all that existed within it rightfully belonged to her. After all this was her mother's house, and her mother and her stew, I suppose...?

Uncomfortable vibes took over me, but I knew the good mom was expecting me, and would disagree with my attempts to evade. And well besides I practically risked my life to get here! I thought: "I'll just thank her for the food and be on my way."

I was welcomed into the home with grace, and her mother lovingly tried to smooth the tension between us two rivals. I felt almost forced to sit at the set table with Zahra straight across the way. We both tried with difficulty to avoid eye contact, as we wondered who would speak first. I wondered if we'd ever speak again. It's been four months of silence, but I had so much to say, so much gossip to tell. I wanted so badly to know the life she had been leading since these past few seemingly decades.

But before our minds could ponder us into insanity good mom brought the Khoresht Bademjan to our plates. The aromatic flavor reached our noses with more intense contact instantly. The stew was followed with zafron rice and cucumber yogurt, it was like the good old days. With big eyes we dug in, happy and mouths full of food something phenomenal started to happen! We SPOKE!

Me: (briefly but with enthusiasm) "This is so good."

Zahra: (quickly responded with a loud) "UMMM!"

Me: (quickly I responded back with) "YUM!"

Zahra: (as if happily trying to out-sound each other) "GRUNT!"

Our eyes were lit up like Christmas trees!

And together we screamed: "So how have you been?!"

"Good! Good!"

"Yeah, yeah, me too!"

"Wow! New boyfriend, me too!"

"But, not for long!"


"Well you know bla bla bla!"

"Yes I do know!"

"Ya, ya, ya!"

And everything from their on out was just as exciting and extensive! After a tired evening of inquisitive talking my newfound buddy and I were best friends again alas, and awfully exhausted from all the eating and gabbing.

Good mom was on stand by most of the night listening to us chat our self's into a frenzy, and held in her eyes a mysterious glow and witty smirk. I think she knew the union was brought on by some secret magic sprinkled lovingly in that pot of unexplainable stew she methodically put together to bring us together, and somehow the food or her mother or just the way the world was working in a mystery that night lead up to the conclusion of us forced to sit and co-exist. I believe the "togetherness" gave us the courage to set aside our differences for one fabulous evening, and enjoy each others company for who we really are without the bias ideas and cynical thinking that try to keep us apart.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Fly to Iran
By Heather-ley Peckham

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Poems Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans
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