For the “Iran, a reflection” Series.
My friend calls and wants to gossip about her coworker. While I am on the phone with her, I have abandoned my feverish hourly search for news and information about Iran, in order to pay full attention to her. I sit there and listen to the same words being repeated over and over again, but I can’t really hear or understand a word of what she is saying. My mind is elsewhere, thousands of miles away, where people are running through the streets, scared. Any moment another one of them may be hit with a bullet. She says: “…and I would like to know why Steve takes issue with my being ten minutes late in the morning but he never asks Tina how come she comes in at 10 at least twice a week… .” And all I want to do is to stop her and this phone call while yelling: “boro baba!”
I realize I can’t just sit at home and do nothing other than watching the news. So I agree to go out on a second date with that guy. He is talking about his ex-wife again, the one who hurt and tormented him for years, leaving him scarred and scorched beyond recognition. Somewhere in that long few paragraphs he is uttering he says “and I was wondering whether you would like to come visit my cabin by the ocean some time, maybe next weekend. You know, maybe we can get to know each other better.” And I’m thinking to myself how I would go stir crazy with him and Linda in a cabin, cut off from the world and news about Iran for 48 hours. Though I say something else, something polite, all the while I’m saying in my mind: “boro baba!”
I open the mailbox. There is another offer for free panties from Victoria’s Secret, not to mention a Macy’s discount card for 25% off everything. There is even a card from Clarins summoning me to claim my free facial, free samples, and free gift package. There is a catalogue for courses in my town’s adult education center, and three catalogues from my favorite mail order stores. As I toss everything into trash, remembering the sea of people exposed to sticks and bullets in Iran, I send the vendors a short mental message: “boro baba!”
“What would you like to do for the celebration?” my best friend asks. As she rattles off the options and suggestions, it takes all my might to thank her, ask for a rain check, and postpone all celebrations until a time when I feel able to enjoy the occasion and all the hoopla. Is that a pout on her face? Sheesh, now I have to apologize and explain and justify myself. As I do, I send my friend a cryptic message in my mind: “boro baba!”
I show up to the protest and two minutes into the affair I hear two people behind me, fighting over the flag, one insisting to the other that this is not “our flag” or “my flag” or “Iran’s flag,” I can’t remember now which one he says. Standing there, thinking that I have come to the only place where I might feel slightly better, standing next to others who feel the same dread and anxiety as I do, I tell myself how much I wish I didn’t have to utter the words here, too. Alas I have to do it. This time, though, I say the words out loud, “boro baba!” and I’m ready to fight over this, too. I tell the guy to cut it out and let people do whatever makes them feel better, telling him that the other person is free to express himself whichever way he wants and it’s not right for anyone to tell him which flag to like or dislike. I know I am in the right place and in the company of my kin right there and then, when I hear the other guy look me in the eyes and say: “boro baba!”