New York, Friday April 2
Yesterday was the first day I have laughed since the beginning of this ordeal.
I didn't even know I could move those facial muscles that way anymore.
The morning began like any other. We woke up early and had our breakfast
together in the kitchen. One thing I definitely miss when I am away in the
City...Bagels and lox are nice but nothing compares to Noon barbari-ye dAgh
bA paneer irooni va chAyee. My poor bAbA hast lost much of his appetite
due both to his disease and to the treatment. It leaves him tired and feverish,
like he has the flu. He sleeps most of the day at home and does not desire
to eat. But following Nurse Amber's recommendations, we gently persuade
him to try his best at maintaining a healthy diet. This is imperative to
After breakfast, we changed from our pajamas and bathrobes and drove
to the hospital, where as usual, we took the elevator to the 7th Floor.
Nurse Amber happened to be at the registration desk and she led us right
through to a room where bAbA could change into a gown.
After a few minutes, they were ready for his treatment and took him away.
MAmAn and I settled into our usual seats in the waiting room, uncomfortable
blue plastic chairs with no arm rest, and proceeded to pretend to be reading
the outdated news magazines left on the table.
After about 45 minutes, I started looking intently at the corner where
Nurse Amber and bAbA always re-appear after his therapy session. Usually
it doesn't take longer than 30 minutes and I don't like it if they are even
a few minutes late. Those extra minutes feel like hours to me.
But Amber and bAbA didn't materialize. I went back to my magazine and
tried to concentrate on the Chechnya report that stared back at me from
-- Howdy, Mrs. and Miss T........
A thick Texas drawl startled me from my pretend-reading. MAmAn also looked
up in recognition at the sound of our names being spoken. Before me stood
an unfamiliar looking nurse with curly brown hair. She was holding the arm
of an older gentleman of African-American descent, wearing a pair of pajamas
and bathrobe. The nurse repeated her greeting.
-- Howdy Mrs. and Miss T....
-- Yes...May I help you?
-- Suuuure you can hon...If you here take your daddy home, he's all done
with his treatment now you hear.
I looked at her not comprehending. My mom's loud voice boomed at my side:
-- NAzanin, in zanekeh chee meegeh????
-- Heessss...mAmAn ye deghe sabr kon, azash beporssam...fekr konam confused
The nurse stood there chewing her gum. The old African-American patient
looked as surprised at me.
-- Well hon, what's it gonna be? You gonna take your daddy home with
ya ? I reckon I,ve got some work to do...
-- Um...excuse me...I think there has been a misunderstanding...You
see, this is not my father...
-- Well now!...Wait a minute..Aren't you Mitra and Nazanin T.......?
-- Well then here is your father then hon.....That's what I got written
on my board.
Just then the African-American gentleman turned to her and said timidly:
-- Ma,am....I believe this young lady tells the truth...This is not my
The nurse looked flabbergasted.
-- _Well Sweet Jesus in all Heavens...Then if you are not Mr. Houshang
T....., who are you then?
The man replied:
-- My name is Crawford.
The nurse looked at him suspiciously.
-- Well that's impossible, I already sent Mr. Crawford home...Well...then...but....
The gum suddenly dropped from the nurse's mouth:
-- Oh my Loooooorrrrdeee Loooorrrrdeee Lord...Hoooon! I am just sooo
terribly sorry...I think I ve gone and made a little blunder. I may have
sent your dad home with this gentleman's family by mistake.
All of a sudden, I pictured my father sitting in the passenger seat of
a Sports Utility Vehicle filled to the brim with his new African-American
My mom and I looked at each other then at the nurse and her patient.
Then all four of us burst out laughing at the same time. This was the cue
for Nurse Amber and my father to come out of their hiding place, from around
the corner of the waiting room, where they had been watching with delight
their prank unfold before their eyes.
"April Fool's! They shouted as they approached us.
-- Hoooossshhhhaaaannnggg!!!! Mikoshammmeeettt!!!!
But mAmAn couldn't help laughing either.
As for their accomplices, the Texas-accented nurse introduced herself
as Kathy and our fake patient, as Dr. Crawford, a surgeon at the hospital.
I guess we should have seen this coming. Behind an exterior which is
as calm and reserved as my mom is "sholough and "toghss, bAbA
has a soft spot for playing pranks. I don't think any year has gone by without
him getting us with some imaginative joke on April 1st. From putting juice
in the milk carton, to removing the clothes from our dressers, putting hard
boiled eggs in the carton, or lacing up my runners upside down (with bells
on them), bAbA has done it all. The best was during the time I was going
on gazillions of acting auditions and no phone calls were ever surprising
me with good news. One day I came home to find a message from a Mr. Lyon,
with a phone number to call him back. I figured this must be from one of
the T.V. commercial directors who had finally decided to take a gamble on
me. I called and asked if I could please speak to Mr. Lyon as I was returning
his call. After a few snickers, the person at the end of the line responded:
"I'm sorry Mr. Lyon is in his cage having lunch right now, can I take
a message?". It took me a few seconds to realize this was the number
of the Bronx Zoo. My dad had gotten our neighbour Ted Wilson to call my
apartment posing as "Lyon. I thought it was great.
It's weird how this stupid prank of my dad's today at the hospital meant
so much to me. It is like a slow return to normalcy in our lives. By not
breaking this family tradition, and succeeding in making us all laugh in
the middle of a tense situation, he has been able to break the negative
spell that has held over us ever since this ordeal began. I can already
feel its positive effects. Last night was the first night insomnia didn't
keep me awake til sunrise. And when I woke up this morning I still had a
smile on my face.