I come from the heart of a family who lives in a welcoming house in an old parish, with water streams flowing in its small alleys, watering the trees to keep my childhood memories green — forever. This is my beloved land, which is surrounded by high mountains. Beyond the mountains towards the sun is the forest and beyond the forest is the Caspian Sea; a never-ending blue. Towards the south sits the desert, spreading out its feverish solidness, so wide, with a burning breeze that turns and twists to repeat my cradle lullabies for eternity.
I want to breathe in the air of the old market that once got ruined by flood. My memories are buried there; washed out. I have walked there with my grandmother when her arms were the only shelter. Our footprints are still there, somewhere unseen, beneath the visible traces of the crowd who has just walked and passed there. The aroma of the warm, fresh baked bread blends with the holy sound of the evening prayer coming from the old shrine that had the oldest Plane tree. That is when I want my hands to pour millet for the pigeons; they fly toward me — prrrrrrrrrrr… I die to hear that sound one more time.
On the way back home, there is a waiting line for the cab. I can even walk; it won’t take more than 10 minutes to get home. I would have walked if I were there now. I long to touch the moist, cracked walls of the huge gardens in our street. Those gardens are full of lilacs, Judas trees, roses, pearl flowers, vine trees and jasmines. Our house was where the fragrant of the lilacs weaved in to the aroma of saffron and the cracked walls transformed to the big, blue stones of a wall surrounding a small, white, wooden door, waiting to welcome us home.
Inside our four bedroom house, a kerosene heater with its curved smoke-stack connecting to the wall was in the corner of a large sitting area filled with comfortable, burgundy chairs where my father used to read Hafiz and Rumi’s poetry to me. In the winter time, on top of the hot heater there were always some sour oranges cut in half, each one holding a sugar cube in the middle to sooth our throats and to sweet-smelling the house. A large balcony faced our beautiful garden. In the middle of the garden, there was a small pool that had a fountain and some fish. Among our plants and trees I loved our purple lilacs the most. They smelled like heaven.
A set of white chairs and large pots of Jasmine, which is called “Yaas” in Farsi, were the decorations on the balcony. My grandmother used to pick fresh Jasmines every morning and pour them in a crystal bowl, half filled with water to put on the breakfast table. She used to make a chain of Yaas, putting the stem of one flower into the center of another one. When the strand was long enough she would coil it around my thin neck into the most beautiful necklace I have ever seen. Then she would hang a couple of twin, red cherries from my ears to give me the sweetest earrings in the world, and that was the meaning of happiness to me.
I used to go to sleep on my grandmother’s feet while she was singing me my favorite lullaby:
Lalalala, Go to sleep my darling
You are my white flower
I won’t ever leave you
I will sit beside your cradle forever.
Don’t look for your dad
Close your eyes
Your dad is gone to the war
He will come back as soon as you sleep.
Close your big, brown eyes
Close your eyes
Lala lalalala lala.
Those days are just memories now. My grandmother is gone; no jasmines. Even those walls don’t have cracks anymore. Flood has washed out the old market. The shrine is rebuilt and the old plane tree—like me—is not there anymore.
I want to go back to my city, to my people. Our roots are tied to each other; we have something in common. Even with the beggar who is sitting on the ground with an artificial leg and a note to beg for money, in front of an empty bowl. The money I might not give away to feed him, but buy an ice cream for my daughter with, instead, so cruel; even then, we have something in common. There are no borders between our mentalities, even if I live across the borderline.
There… that is my land, on the other side of the ocean, and my home, right behind the desert. I want to pass through the burning sands and go back towards the Sun. I want to go back to the shore that its soil I adore. I want to go back to Tehran.