Mashad had the most melancholic fall season. Not only did the sound of Azan echo from every minaret, each year there seemed to be more crows drawn to the tall trees and each day the sun ran away to hide behind the mountains a little earlier. People went home for the evening prayers, leaving the streets lifeless and bare. As a child, I sat outside and watched the sky turn a dark blue and listened to the sound of those ugly birds. Before dark, the sky turned red and the crows flew about in black clothes and screamed, “Marg…marg….marg….”
The song had been the same since the day my mother died. I swallowed the lump in my throat and promised myself I would leave someday.
When I lived in London, fall didn't seem any worse than other seasons. Rain became a promise and clouds a part of the city's gray skyline. Hard work and volumes to study took my mind off the seasons. I saw no crows, but their vivid image stayed in my mind. On a few occasions I searched the sky for them, but like my other childhood memories, they were tucked away inside me.
Chicago presented a most glorious fall. Maple trees along Sheridan Road turned from green to a majestic gold, highlighted with shades of flaming red. People called them “October's Glory” — a most befitting name. I walked along the ravines by Lake Michigan and wondered where, in all that beauty, lay the sadness. A secure life, a good job and a healthy family left no reason to feel the deep sorrow I hid inside. Once in a while, there came a black crow, but now it sounded as if he said, “Far…far…far…”
Oh, I know, you dumb bird. Home is far away, you don't have to remind me.
Life's responsibilities provided a good distraction. Although I would not let the negative energy of fall bother me, I failed to understand how anyone could love such a gloomy season. It never seemed to leave soon enough and when it did, a long cold winter didn't provide the much needed cheer either. So, each October, the sight of pumpkins at people's doorsteps promised darker days. My heart felt heavy at the anticipation of the worst yet to come.
So the gypsy in search of inner peace moved to where there would be no autumn, a place that promised an abundance of sunshine and a year-round spring.
The soft breeze of the Pacific promises that my flowers will survive throughout the year. Here, the grass remains green, the trees keep their leaves and the sun shines in a sky that maintains its blue.
“Don't you miss the change of seasons?” a neighbor asks.
Her question has awakened me. No, I don't miss anything. I never left autumn. I seem to have taken my memories around the world with me: the tall trees of Mashad, the stony mountain, the echo of Azan. They have miraculously fit in my small suitcase. I meant to leave them behind, God knows how hard I tried, but they followed me across the globe.
For a few days now, a couple of crows have found my garden. They come by every day and shriek their unwelcome song. It has become the morbid duet of my sunsets.
“Marg… marg… marg…”
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani is a freelance writer, poet and artist. She lives in San Diego, California.
Subscribe to The Iranian newsletter
Sign up for our daily newsletter to get the top news stories delivered to your inbox.