Some people say homeland is where you were born, it is merely the name of a geographical region on a piece of paper, that it doesn’t mean anything. Others say we all belong to a global village; culture does not exist because we are all the same.
For me, homeland is anything but. Don’t ask me why as I cannot explain it. It is a bond created somewhere in my heart, in my soul, in my share of collective memory of Iranians. Perhaps it has happened when I recited my first lines of poetry as a child, perhaps it was when we all lined up in crisp autumn mornings to sing the anthem, or every time I looked out of my window and saw the snow capped peak of Damavand. I remember in fifth grade (I think), the teacher was finishing the last part of Shahnameh from our textbook, when Rostam’s step brother betrayed him. Raksh was in the well full of swords and nails and daggers and Rostam was talking to him, caressing him, feeling his pain. I looked around and saw thirty-five other children in tears.
Being an Iranian is a huge responsibility. Perhaps, a burden some of us can shake off more easily than others. It would be easier if one was born somewhere else, in a younger country, and not have to carry all that comes on with being so very old. I wonder if we had felt the same way during the reign of Kourosh for example.
I remember a friend of mine telling me about Iranians who had been living in California for twenty years and never bought a house because they thought they would go back one day. For many, being Iranian means not feeling fully settled.
Being an Iranian also means to live with a divided heart. It must be the way adopted children feel all their lives: torn between their biological parents and the adopted ones. I love Canada. I vote, I participate in social and political life. I do volunteer work, and I know I should do more. I am very concerned about preserving the best in Canada and making my own contribution toward making Canada better. Most of my friends in Canada are Canadians because they are kind, open, and gentle people. I feel I belong here and here belongs to me.
When I wander about in meandering alleys of Bandar Abbas or in ruins of Sasan Palace in Sarvestan, I feel I am the wealthiest person on the face of this planet. I feel they all belong to me, and I belong to them.
Every time I go back home, I am happy to see friends and relatives. But I can never leave without paying my respect at Hafiz tomb and wonder at his genius … بر سر تربت ما چون گذری همت خواه که زیارتگه رندان جهان خواهد بود
When I think of Iran in trouble, which covers most of past and present, I feel a sharp needle piercing my heart. I have a safe home, an education, and a decent life, but somehow, I can never feel quite settled even though I have two places where I belong. Perhaps it is the problem with all very wealthy people. They have it all; yet, they keep nagging!