November 20, 2003
First day of school, horrific in its own right,
but now imagine a third grader who has changed more
schools in his eight years than underwear. Thus began
my first day of third grade in Tehran. Not being yet
assigned to a class, my principal decided to have me
stand on the staircase with him as he went through the
morning announcements and slogans.
However in that
terrifying moment of looking at 400 students yelling
in gray uniforms, a woman approached me. She asked if
I was new to the school to which I mumbled a barely
audible yes. She then pulled her brother from behind
her (he happened to be my age and in the same class)
and said "Good, now you two can be friends."
I soon became friends mainly because we didn't know
anyone else in the school. Now you might think I
scored by making a friend my first day in school and
yes I have to say he was a really nice guy, but there
was one tiny little problem with him, and his family.
Mehdi came from a very religious and pro-Khomeini
family, which made me a bit nervous to be around him. During those
years there were many stories of kids,
friends, neighbors, etc
turning in family members and
friends to the Pasdaran revolutionary guards if they suspected
them of being anti-government.
My test of ingenuity came that
year in Tehran, right before my birthday. Mehdi
approached me and the conversation went similar to
Mehdi: Do you like Khomeini?
Me: Uh, Do you?
Me: Me too.
Mehdi: Do you pray?
Me: Uh, do you?
Me: Me too!
Mehdi: Are you a Hezbollahi?
Me: Uh, are you? (See I changed my answer right there.
And I was quite dumb to think his answer could be
Me: Me too.
Mehdi: Well I have a gift for you.
Mehdi then preceded to hand me a photo of Khomeini
with a happy birthday wish written behind the photo.
This presented a great issue. On one hand the
"gift" had to be somewhere so that if Mehdi dropped by
our house he could see it. On the other hand no one in my
family cared to see Khomeini's picture.
compromised, and placed the picture backwards so we
could see the birthday wish. And it was accessible so
that if the Pasdaran raided our house we could turn
the picture and show our devotion to the Great
Imam. Hopefully they wouldn't look
too much and discover our alcohol stash, backgammon and
decks of cards.
In regards to school I was also shocked to find
that now I was responsible for learning some 14
different subjects. To this day I think back about
those subject matters and think to myself what a big
waste of time they were. I mean I didn't learn anything in
"herfeh o fan" (crafts) or our religious classes. Sadly the
same can be said
math and Farsi but
that is a different story.
About a week into the school year my uncle Mehran was
shipped from Arak to live with us. He is my mom's
youngest brother and was going to high school at the
time. My grandmother wanted my mom to keep an eye on
him and since my grandmother was busy with her five
other children, Mehran was sent to us.
Thus began our
many adventures. Being just a bit older
than me, he became an older brother for Mahan (my
brother) and myself. He kept us occupied while my mom
was busy. His way of keeping us busy was with
stories, games and pranks.
My uncle's favorite stories were about Hassan and
Akbar; he would make up the stories on the fly. Unfortunately
he couldn't remember the same story twice. If we heard a story
we liked and wanted to
hear it again, we would be out of luck. But
my uncle was always able to weasel his way out by convincing us
that we wanted
to hear a new and much more adventurous story.
After a while Mahan and I decided that
we would secretly tape my uncle while he was telling
us his stories, that way we could listen to it
whenever we wanted to. By the time we "hid" the recorder, my uncle
had suspected something was up. We placed the recorder on
the right side of the
couch, which was the side he always sat. But this
time he decided to sit on the
pleaded with him to sit on the right but he kept on
goofing around until he finally stood up and said that
he's had enough and won't tell us another story again.
We were crushed and heartbroken, but we still had the
stories of my uncle's adventures in the military to amuse
us.>>> Part 7 >>> Index
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