I could breathe the familiar air even before the plane landed. I reviewed all the years in exile with my eyes shut. Loud plane engines on the background of total darkness were not intrusive. And eight years long movie played in my head full force in matter of minutes. Mostly the peaks and the lowest lows had etched themselves indefinitely, hopefully. Those memories will be surely recycled for efficiency purposes – But never lost.
A naive young woman with one piece of luggage had two pairs of jeans, six tee shirts, one sweater, some underwear, two pairs of shoes, socks and a manilla envelope full of photos. Mostly black and white. In my late teens I preferred them to colors. Also wrapped carefully in a handmade Ghashghaie tapestry from my bedroom, were my old Laica CL with the Zeiss lenses that Amoo Parviz had left before he passed away in ’75, plus my newer Minolta DX11 which I received as oghor raahi from my brother in-law.
My friends in those photos would positively be missed. So would my nanny Kokab, my maternal grandma Madar joon and Ammehjoon Meehan. The weather this suitcase was packed for, was uncertain. The length of time was from snowfalls in Shemiran to seashells by the Caspian. My father chose not to see me off, thinking his meeting with his British partners were too vital to miss – also because we both thought we’d see each other in a few months. My sister and mother gave me their generic hugs as if I was off to one of my trips nearby, Greece or London.
Six months later bombs exploded in cinema rex. The deadly chaos of Islam came about and things turned back hundreds of years in no time at all. I heard that people like me didn’t exist. We were Not “the children of Revolution”. Only kids of our anti-regime parents. Even our parents didn’t exist. They were executed one by one in public, for using their skills within the long gone kingdom. For me, there was no home, no contact with anything familiar. Except for the two people whom I knew – out of the millions. My sociologist cousin in New York and a friend who had just arrived with her relatives in Florida. Before landing in the US, I had decided Florida was safer. Also because the university there had accepted my credits from iran.
With surreal motivation I kept at raising myself. I tried to survive the loneliness of harsh abandonment. Did whatever to make time pass – to See what was gone. It took two degrees, work experience through various jobs, one suicide ideation and seven years to see what I had completely lost.
I was living for that moment when I knew the children and grownups on my streets again. I was alive to feel that I connected to words and words connected to me again.
Some faces held guns but still felt familiar. If I dared to look long enough into their eyes I could find them somewhere. Despite bitter resentments. I wondered if they all remained crying and laughing underneath. Women resembled black crows which delivered bad news: We were only free to make babies to feed them. What Next was not clear or hopeful to me.
Everyone looked nervous but possibly kind.
Had I given of myself, could I have stayed? Could I give of myself Now, is it for me?