Maamaan daareh meeyaad!
By dAyi Hamid
December 19, 1997
I bet my Armani pants you've experienced this too: Your mother comes from Iran to visit you. From the day she calls and gives her flight number until her arrival you keep thinking about the past. You remember your childhood, the days in Iran, her kind face, her cooking...
You see, I have a family guest every summer. One summer my father comes over. The following summer my mother, then it's my brother's turn and then my mother again. A year later my sister comes and then it's my mother's turn -- again. Yes, she's here at least every second summer.
My mother makes up every excuse to come over to Switzerland. "maamaan joon torsheehaat tamoom shodeh? beeyaam dorost konam?" Or she says, "maadar, een eyd sabzi polo maahee nakhordi, delam kabaab shod. taabestoon meeyaam baraat dorost meekonam."
She usually arrives with two suitcases, each weighing more than 2,000 kilos. And every time she opens them, you find yourself standig right in the middle of the bazaar in front of a "dokoon-e attaari." Az sheer-e morq taa joon-e aadamizaad too een chamedoonaa peydaa meesh-e. And they're all cooking ingredients.
I have a cabinet in my kitchen full of this stuff. Its door opens every two years when my mother is here. I have a plastic can with about five kilos of "kashk" in it. For God's sake, you tell me, how many times do you eat "kashk-e baademjoon" in a year? This plastic contains enough for 20 years, but my mother still brings fresh "kashk" every time. She throws the old stuff away and replaces it with fresh "kaSk" as well as "sabzee qorme", "zereshk", "gerdooy-e khark shodeh" and "aaloo."
Oh yes, "aaloo." I hate this thing. She makes a kind of drink out of it that she forces me to drink every morning. "bokhor maadar baraay-e kaar-e sheekamet khoobeh," she says. By the time she leaves my stomach has worked so hard that it needs a few weeks rest in the Alps.
Every time my mother is here she prepares a different Iranian dish at least once. In addition to that and with the knowledge that I do not cook as often as she thinks, she cooks whatever she can and saves it in the freezer -- portions for two or three persons, which I can just take out and warm up. I think I still have some "fesenjoon" from her last visit.
Yes, my mom. When I compare her to the days when I was growing up in Iran, I get depressed. She was so active and "zebel." But now she can hardly walk. She has some problem with her feet (I forgot the name) and she can't walk a lot. Well, let's say she gets this pain when I suggest a walk in the Alps or around a lake. But mention shopping and she gets turbo-charged and suddenly she's mega fit. In department stores she flies from floor to floor and shelf to shelf like a "ferfereh." No sign of pain in the legs.
She knows exactly what she has bought and for whom. It's amazing; every small article is meant for someone. And more interesting are the combinations: "een roosari o een maatik maal-e Nasrin." A scarf and a lipstick? "een korset o in kafsh-e aadidaas ham maal-e Manijeh." My objections that she's buying too many "bonjol" items go nowhere: "eyb nadaareh maadar. faqat esmesh khaareji baash-e khosheshoon meeyaad."
A few days before she leaves everything is set and ready to go. The freezer is full, her suitcases are packed tight, and the date of her next visit is set with the usual condition: "ageh taa oon moqe' zendeh boodam." I can't even think of the day when she's no more.
When maamaam is in my house, it's not just a place to live anymore, it's home.
* THE IRANIAN Satire