I wrote the following in 1997 on the anniversary of leaving Iran. I still have not been back and don't know when I will. My thoughts still remain the same. Happy Thanksgiving.
My memories of that night are still vivid – it's as if it was only a few days ago. I was 11. They had closed our school because of its vicinity to University of Tehran and the student demonstrations. Marshal law was in effect. Everyone was a bit tense though I did not realize the full weight of the situation. My parents were planning to leave the country after the school year so they were already prepared to leave for the most part. We were lucky to be able to leave with very short notice – many of our family and friends wanted to leave but could not.
I remember watching the movie “Looti” the night before we left – I still remember some of the plot. Some guy entrusted his wife to his friend's care while he went on a trip. His friend pulled a hair from his mustache and wrapped it in a scarf and promised that nothing would happen to the wife. Something did (don't remember what) and everyone in the town was shouting “Lootiyeh, Lootiyeh, Lootiyeh NAlootiyeh”.
1978 was the year Iran made it to the World Cup in Argentina. We had just gotten a color TV and I remember watching some of the games.
A lot has happened in the world in the past 19 years. I've lost several family members, gained a few and watched the remainder scatter across the world with some still in Iran.
I miss eating chelo kabob on Friday noons – we used get a take-out order from Chelo Kababiyeh Melli on the former Pahlavi Boulevard. My sister and I used to fight over who'd get the last loghmeh of rice from the bottom of the pot wrapped in fresh sangak.
I miss going hiking near the Karaj Dam and eating ghoorooti (a khorasani dish) with wild onions and cold water from a nearby spring.
I miss going ayd didani to all the relatives' homes (I don't miss the homework they used to give us over the no-rooz break!).
I miss going to the parks.
I miss the Caspian Sea – collecting rocks near the beach, eating fAloodeh with lemon juice, driving on harAz road through the tunnels, eating fried liver at AbshAreh poloor, seeing those greener than green hills of Mazandaran.
I miss my friends at Madreseye Mehran, I miss our principal Mr. Mafi, my teachers (some of them!), Mr. Barzegar the doorman.
I miss . . .
The Persian term for missing something is truly a wonder: “delam tang shodeh” — my heart has grown small.
So much of Iranian poetry has to do with unrequited love and for those of us far from our birthplace, those verses take on a different meaning and ring true in a different sense. Like Hafiz says in one of his poems:
I said: I ache for you, she said: your pain will end I said: become my moon, she said: if it comes to pass
I said: I shall close the road to thoughts of you She said: I am a thief – I will find another path
I said: did you see how the days of joy came to an end She said: hush Hafiz, this ache will also end
Someday I hope I can go back and see all those places that I never got a chance to see.
About Saman Ahmadi is currently on an internship in Barcelona, Spain, at the office of Oscar Tusquets Blanca Arquitecturas. You can read his weblog at samanahmadi.blogspot.com