My mother entered the room and said, “Remember Samaneh? In shomal? Well, she's getting married with some taxi driver and hardly has enough money, not even for a jaheeziye (dowry). Poor thing. If you think you have anything that would suit her for a jaheeziye, give them to me and we'll send them to her.”
As she left, I carelessly murmured under my lips, “Yeah, ok…” But there was something else going through my heart: Samaneh, the daughter of my aunt's housekeeper…
My parents are originally from shomal, Mazandaran in particular. Now, all our relatives have been scattered all over Iran (mostly in Tehran) and the world — except for a couple family members who remained in shomal.
One of my aunts has a house in shomal and in Tehran, living half the time here and the other half there. In her house in shomal they have a housekeeper, who also occasionally comes to their house in Tehran to help.
One summer, years ago when I, along with my family, had come to Iran for a vacation for the first time in years, we stayed at my aunt's house in shomal. I was still a child then, trying to explore this motherland of mine and the culture of its people which I had left at the age of six.
Staying at the 'shomali house' I would sleep with the chirping of the crickets and the aroma of trees during the usually hot nights. And in the mornings I would wake up to the songs of the sparrows, the burning sun from afar, and sometimes to the voice of the namaki in the alleys nearby.
It all seemed a very new experience to me, having lived away from here for a few years, but at the same time I could sense the repetition of my earlier childhood before moving to the U.S. The feeling which I had forgotten and noticed I had been missing after I got a chance to experience it again, was repeating itself within me.
Being closer to this childhood again, I started understanding how far I had become from it. During the days in the hot humid weather of shomal, if there were no plans to visit family members or have them visit us or to go to the beach and perhaps take a swim, I loved to walk or simply sit in the large yard of the house, exploring the tiny nature the place held.
Sometimes I would pick the flowers and sometimes I would collect the oranges which had fallen off the trees unto the grass. Many times I would take the hose and start watering all the plants, the variety of flowers – the picotees, the geraniums, the gladioluses – the grass, and the variety of trees. That must have been my favorite part.
All the fun in the large yard of my aunt's house was shared with Samaneh, the housekeeper's daughter who would come along to help her mother at times. She was around my age, maybe a year older or younger, I can't quite remember. We were still children at the time. No matter how different our lives and how different our families and how different our surroundings, we still shared the simple joyful thoughts.
We could find laughter in simplicities such as watering the trees, we could exchange smiles over seeing a butterfly, and the little funny arguements we would have on little unimportant stuff which seemed so important to us, then the simple reconciliation after the slight rare arguements. We were still children and the distances money, cultural differences, and surroundings always create still did not exist much between us. We were good friends, without those virtual distances.
The weeks in shomal passed by quickly, and so did the time my family and I stayed in Iran. Time in larger scales also passed by quickly, the years of still being a child and the years after that. Now, living in Iran again I am 19-years-old, and Samaneh, whom I haven't seen since that year, must be around that age too.
After what my mother had said, I couldn't help to think of the distances which are created between people after growing up. The distances that cultural differences, veiw points toward life, money, power, fame, sometimes nationality and religion can create. I took a look at the present Samaneh and the present me: What a difference! She was now getting married, trying to collect a jaheeziye, and going to be a mother of a child soon (as later I heard my mother saying that Samaneh was pregnant too).
On the other hand here I was, not thinking about marriage in a serious way at all, definately not a jaheeziye (not my type of thing!), instead thinking about dating, working, my university, poetry, music, and different arts, about the possibility of moving back to the U.S., and thinking about things such as feminism!
It feels like I live in a totally different world than Samaneh does. If I saw her now I doubt I could communicate with her at all. But when we were children during those weeks we were really friends. I had as good a communication with her as I had with my other friends which I still keep in touch with. It's strange to me, the distance being created as you grow up from being a child.
If from a spot on earth you start two lines with the slightest angle between them, and you continue the lines to a far distance, say to the moon, by the time it gets there the lines may be so far away that each one is on one side of the moon.
It seems that life is the same, as time goes by the simple unimportant distances at our childhood seem to grow so much that later it becomes hard to remember the times we were all so close to one another, and we shared the same simplicity that todays children hold.
I took a look out the window in the hot summer evening of Tehran, did a little prayer for Samaneh in my heart, then headed toward my closet and started getting ready to go out at night to a restuarant with a bunch of friends.