New York, Monday March 28
Yesterday I was noticing the change in my mom. Has she become a different
person? Or is it just that I never really knew her? It is funny that kids
assume they know their parents like the back of their hand. They forget
that before their birth, their mom or dad have already lived a lifetime
full of memories: happiness and sadness, love and disputes, births and deaths.
It is so hard to imagine my mAmAn joon as a little girl in pigtails sitting
on the front steps of her house in Tehran, in her little poodle skirt and
sun hat. The only thing I recognize in those old yellowed pictures is the
"tokhss" expression in her eyes. The more things change, the more
they stay the same...
Ever since I can remember, mAmAn has been the loud "sholough"
one in the family. She bosses everyone around, never expresses herself in
less than a half-screaming voice, makes her opinions known whether she has
been asked or not. She is our little dictator. The energy that propels her
is grounded in an unshakable feeling of righteousness, the invincible certainty
that she knows best and she has a duty to guide others around her to fulfill
their own potential. She is perhaps the strictest judge when it comes to
Always perfectly coiffed, manicured, and made-up, she believes work,
whether in or outside the house, should never be obstacles to your primary
duty to present yourself to the world in the neatest and most pleasant fashion
possible. She cannot understand if I tell her I have had no time to paint
my nails, or get a haircut, or put on some lipstick. She keeps buying me
clothes even at 26! Even though our tastes could not be more different!
Twice I have caught her on the verge of throwing out my old muddy Nikes,
the most comfortable pair of shoes I own. I always use them when I go on
long walks through Central Park. When I made the mistake of wearing my ancient
torn NYU sweatshirt to Mount Vernon, I discovered the next day that it had
been put in the washer and ruined by bleach. An accident, my mother claimed,
but I have never known my mother to make mistakes. You just have to bare
it and grin. MAmAn is just mAmAn, I tell myself. She will never change.
As I watched her today in bAbA's hospital room, holding his hand, and
whispering to him, I had to re-think that notion. She did seem different
to me though maybe to the outside world, she has remained the same. On the
surface, a proper lime green suit and designer handbag, her hair not a single
strand out of place, give the world the impression that nothing out of the
ordinary is happening in her life.
But I, unlike the people outside our family, have noticed little facts
about her that belie her outer calm and composure: The fact that this is
the third day in the row she has been wearing that lime green suit, the
fact that she has forgotten the emerald earrings and bracelet which she
normally accessorizes with this outfit, the fact that inside that designer
bag, she has forgotten to drop her house keys and driving license. Instead
you can find inside 2 half-used packs of kleenexes used to wipe away her
tears, and a crumpled piece of paper on which she has written, in her phonetic
version of English, the instructions that the doctor has given her to make
my father's ordeal as comfortable as possible.
I guess I have always thought of her as my mAmAn. I have forgotten that
before me, way way before me, she was Mitra, bAbA was Houshang, and they
decided that it would be just the two of them against the world. Forever.