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Is Iran my home?
I'm going back home... or am I?


December 5, 2005

Once upon a time there was a little girl with curly hair that had a home.... now she is going back to that home... only her home is not hers... not anymore.

I am going to Iran, in about 2 weeks I will land in Mehrabad airport... on our way out of the airport we will pass meidoone Shahyad... and I ll know I am home... or will I? My youngest cousin Jaleh is getting married... and I figured this is an event I don't wanna miss... I have missed everything else... I am not going to miss this one ...

I spent most of my childhood in Bandar Abbas, each summer the heat would drive us out of town. The heat also gave us a month of extra summer vacation.  Each summer we would pack up our suitcases and prepare for our summer migration.  The excitement would start after Sizdah Bedar. It never took us longer than a week after sizdah bedar to start bugging my mom with the ultimate question "Mom, when are we going to Tehran?"

Tehran had everything Sepideh and I could ever wish for:

-- Grandma to love us to bits

-- Grandpa to spoil the two of us rotten

-- Amoo Hooshang, Mahin Joon and the kids for even more love

-- And if that wasn't enough love, there was the rest of the family... to shower us with more love and affection

The house in Tehran ... which I now refer to as our childhood castle... with the huge garden and our own swimming pool.. the only thing that was forbidden to us were grandpa's roses...

That house was our castle and we were the kings …

I had my own ritual when arriving in Tehran ... it would start at the airport.. I would scan all the heads of the men in the crowd ... looking for that one great big guy with a head full of grey hair ... as soon as I had spotted him I would yell out "Babba Hassy" (our nick name for grandpa) and then Sepi and I would start running towards him ... and shower him with hugs and kisses. Then we would load all our stuff in his white Peykan... and stare out of the window till we saw the meidoone shahyad after that was sighted we sat anxiously till we arrived at our castle.

Once the car was parked we would go and greet our mamani.. Then I would ask if I could go out... and the answer was always yes but be care full... and as I would run out of that beautiful garden in Saadat Abad ... I had one thought in my mind "Mahsa" ... Mahsa had lived across the street from my grandparents as long as we could remember. We had been friends since birth.

 I would run to their door and ring ... and as the door opened I would fly in there run up the stairs and as soon as I would get in Mahsa would be standing there in the door next to her mom with her chubby arms waiting for her hug ... and after that I would immediately ask "Khaale mishe Mahsa biaad pishe maa?"  I think the parents knew it was futile try to say no...

If Mahsa was still at school when I got to Tehran ... I would sit the rest of the day moping around hanging out in the garden to see if I could hear her school bus ... and then I would ambush her on the street...  bug grandma every 10 minutes "Mamani, when is Mahsa gonna be home?" Mahsa and I were inseparable...

Now its different ... I ll go back as the Persian princess to find my castle sold, broken down, and replaced by 2 high rises  ... I don’t know where Mahsa is ... or how she is doing... she is probably married , in fact everybody will be probably married... Grandpa wont' be as big as I remember him... I'll have to cover my hair.

This time I can't be the little girl.. I'll have to be a lady...

I'll probably put on my scarf before I get off the plain...  stand there under the watchful eye of the "Khaharan va baradaran” feeling like a fish out of water.. Looking for any thing familiar... trying to remember all of the rules (or rather all of the don’ts); don’t smile, don’t look men in the eyes, don’t shake hands, don’t talk too much, careful what you say.

Get my bright yellow suitcase and drag it out with me ... to see my childhood memories standing in front of me as grownups...

I'll look for Azar Nafisi's beloved mountains... and find them hiding behind high-rises...

I 'll find everything changed and altered.... will I still belong ... will I be one of them? Or will I be the stranger? The distant cousin? Will I find answers to my questions ... or will I find more questions?

I don’t know... all I know is I am still that little girl anxious to get to Tehran...

The boy is going to be on that same flight to Tehran with me... I hope he'll remember to hold my hand ... just now and then...

Yup, sound the bells Sahari, the modern day nomad... is coming home...  let's just hope, her home wants her back..  At least for a few weeks....

For letters section
To Sahari Dastmalchi

Sahari Dastmalchi



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