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When will you see them all again?
A family reunion in diaspora



July 23, 2007
iranian.com

The youngest is 12.  If you look carefully at his small, expressive face, you will see a darkening hairline just above his upper lip.  You want to stare at it, marvel at the promise of life it brings its owner and those who love him, but you can’t stare at a 12-year old boy.  So you move on…

Another is a pretty 14-year old, whose body has grown into curves which weren’t there last year, you could swear.  You want to stare at the wild beauty of that gorgeous auburn hair, just like her mother’s, and watch the contour of that figure, memorizing it until the next time you meet, but you can’t stare at a 14-year old girl.  So you move on…

Four are college students sitting in a corner talking and laughing, treating each other with tenderness and love, presenting such continuity in their relationship, an outsider would never know they live thousands of miles apart.  You want to go listen to what they are saying to each other, but you don’t belong in the small scene of camaraderie amongst cousins.  So you move on…

Five women sit in a corner talking about their children, their husbands, their work, their friends, and menopause.  There is such peace in the way they are resting from having cared for and fed almost 30 people for a week.  They look so content in having all that they love and care about around them.  When you attempt to stand to the side and stare at them, trying to record this moment in your memory, they become self-conscious and stop talking.  So you move on…

Another is a beautiful 20-year old girl, soon to be a junior in college.  She is tall and gorgeous as she has been since she was born developing into one of the most striking young women you have ever seen.  She has been diagnosed with a mysterious infection over the past year and is on medication that makes her a bit pudgy.  She doesn’t appear self-conscious about it, the strong young woman that she is.  You want to stare at her, this beautiful brave young woman worry for whom has been the business of this family for the past six months.  You want to tell her that she is gorgeous as she has always been, not only because the statement is true, but also because during the upheavals of the past several months, you have discovered what a strong beautiful character resides inside her.  But you can’t stare and you can’t talk like that.  So you move on…

One is an artist by profession and heart.  He sees, lives, and talks music.  When he plays, you can stare, but instead, you want to close your eyes and quickly write memories of that music in your heart.  When he sits and talks about life, all the corners of his talk is adorned with artistic simplicity.  This is when you want to stare at him, but you know you shouldn’t.  So you move on…

The oldest is a beautiful woman in her early 60’s.  She is full of grace and patience, serenity, and wisdom.  You want to look at her strong arms, the ones that carried a retarded child for 25 years, caring for him until the last day of his life, with respect and dignity.  You want to look at a woman who went back to college when she had 3 children, and turned into one of the best-read and soulful thinkers you have ever seen.  You want to look at her, touch her face, embrace her and not let her go.  But it is rather rude to stare.  So you move on…

There is a young couple in love, never needing more than one chair to sit together, sitting in a corner and whispering in each other’s ears, stealing kisses, reminding you of how grand love is.  You mustn’t stare, so you move on…

This one plays music for you on his computer.  He picks something nostalgic and plays it.  You listen and remember your childhood, your home, your parents, yourself, and him.  You listen to Ebi, Lotfi, The Beatles, James Taylor, and someone singing “Kuchah lari soosap misham” in Azari, knowing what those words mean only because they were painstakingly translated for you by someone else.  You look at him, sitting there preparing the next song he will play for you with care, and remember that he is a world renowned scientist, and a truly beautiful mind.  You want to reach and touch his head, his shoulders, embracing him, looking at him, telling him how proud you are of him as a human being.  But you can’t stare and you can’t become overt in your display of emotion.  So you move on…

The one with a full head of graying hair, sitting there looking at everyone, the one with your father’s eyes, smiles at everyone.  He looks and smiles and says little, only when pressed to answer a question, but all the while taking the scenes in carefully and completely.  Nothing goes past him unnoticed.  He understands his responsibilities to all and appears brave and willing in accepting them.  This one does not say much but doesn’t need to, either.  You and he have had this bond since you were born.  Spending long stretches of time visiting, talking, and knowing each other all through your lives has paid off in abundance.  You sit there and look at each other and communicate without words.  You are not frightened by your similarities anymore.  They are accepted facts and a cherished asset.

The ones that traveled across continents to come, the ones that traveled across the country to come, and the ones that traveled hours to come -- they are all here.  You curse the clock for ticking on and for turning the days into nights and for you to have to get some sleep, missing several hours of their company.

Soon it will be over, this reunion.  Everybody will have to return to their homes and to resume their lives in diaspora all over the planet, speaking their extra tongues and tending their established lives in those places.  For the brief time that it was and what’s left of it, you are one lucky Iranian to have gathered your family around you in one corner of the world.  Photographs, words, laughter and tears, all that remain of the occasion, cannot do justice in telling the story of the love of a family dispersed all over the world.  When will you see them all again?  Everyone wants to be realistic but hopeful.  Everyone says next year.  Everyone says it ten times a day.  If you collectively say it a thousand times, it might come true, everyone thinks. Comment

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