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Pomegranates and apples pies
Personal Identity

Lance Raheem
January 31, 2005

I just got finished reading Azam Nemati's "I'll show you Persian!", and I have to admit that she did not disappoint. She lived up to her very well deserved reputation as the consummate mean-spirited person. I would have used the word "bitch" as she did in when describing another lady, but my mother finds it disturbing when I express myself with vulgarities.

One thing that is clear is that Ms. Nemati is very sensitive and protective of her identity. She doesn't want anyone to insult her or it. I almost feel like dropping to one knee and saying to her, "but Azam, your Imperial Iranian-ness, don't you remember what you told me last year?" Remember when you wrote me that "it takes two Iranians to make a real Iranian product." She savagely denied me what she so proudly claimed for herself in her article, the right to be who she wants to be... a proud Iranian.

She probably doesn't even remember, but she told me that I was not a real Iranian because my father isn't Iranian. It didn't matter to her that my mother taught me Farsi from the cradle. It didn't matter to her that my ancestors are buried in Iran, like hers. It didn't matter to her that I proudly professed my love of Iran which was one of my mother's sweetest gifts to me. No, the only thing that mattered to Ms. Nemati was that I was a half-breed.

That fact alone justified her in striping me of any claim to my heritage or birthright. She scalded me terribly at the time with her caustic opinion, but I learned a valuable lesson from her; and that is that it just doesn't matter what other people think. Ms. Nemati can't help herself... she is just full of stinkin' thinkin' most the time. She hurts people with acidic anecdotes almost weekly. That she disapproves of Ameranians and other Iranian half breed mixes is just consistent with her hateful character.

While we can't change the way she thinks about us, we can change the way we think about ourselves. I am glad to say that I no longer care what she thinks of me whatsoever. I am what I am and I'm darned proud of it. My problem right now is that everyone else in my life wants me to be what they want me to be.

My father, whom I love more than any man in the world, tells me to be proud of being an Aryan. With his graying blond hair and twinkling blue eyes he often whispers to me that the real Aryans came from Northern Europe. He whispers because he knows my mother would vigorously disagree with him. My mother, on the other hand, doesn't really care about all that Aryan crap, but just to keep up with my father, she pulls me to the side now and then to remind me that I shouldn't argue with my dad, but that the real Aryans settled in Iran. When I remind her that the word Ireland means "Land of the Aryans" just like the word Iran does, she changes the subject. They are probably both right, but I would like to tell them both I don't give a damn about any Aryans. They haven't done anything for me lately and I have enough to worry about just doing my homework every day.

This identity thing doesn't stop with my parents though. Both of my grandfathers want to tie my identity to fruit. I guess when men get too old to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh they start fixating on fruit. My grandpa in America is always trying to shove apple pie down my throat. I love him and I know he loves me, but I think he has always worried about whether I was completely American. He tells me every time that he pulls one of those damned apple pies out of his refrigerator that all real American boys love apple pie. When I tell him that it makes me want to puke, he tears up and acts as if I've rejected outright the 50% of me that is comprised of my American DNA.

Then there is my baba bozorg in Tehran. I love him. He is a wonderful man, but I am dreading my next trip in a couple of months to see him because I know he is going to turn into a pomegranate maniac. He is always trying to get me to eat those damn things. He and my mother conspire together to coax me into joining one of their annar eating orgies. My baba bozorg tells me that all real Persian boys love eating annar. He just doesn't listen when I tell him that cutting one of those red things in half and picking at the blood red seeds reminds me of Japanese people who think that eating chilled monkey brains right from the opened skull of a dead monkey head is a delicacy. I want to scream at both of my grandfathers that I am more than the sum of their fruit bowls. I am a person. I am not a pie or a pomegranate.

Why not let people be whomever and whatever they want to be? Is there anything wrong with that? If Ms. Nemati is right and it does in fact take two Iranians to make a real Iranian product, then I will never be an Iranian. According to the same logic, however, I will never be a real American since my mother isn't a real American product. She's most definitely a product of Abadan.

So, what am I? It's no one's damn business except mine. I am what I want to be. I am me!!! I am not an Iranian, I am not an American, I am not a Northern Aryan or a Southern Aryan, I am not an apple pie and I am not a pomegranate. I am just plain ole Lance Raheem, a kid in high school, trying to grow up without hurting other people's feelings. I am a very proud half breed and that is what I will always be. Isn't that all any of us should be? Shouldn't we all be proud of who we are without feeling the need to put other people down and hurt their feelings, like some over zealous Americans and over zealous Iranians do when it comes to them expressing their ethnic or patriotic pride. I for one will have none of it. Such people are just bigots regardless if their flag is red, white and blue, or red, green and white.

I am happy that Ms. Nemati relishes in her Iranian-ness. I congratulate her. Why I celebrate her ethnic pride, I can't help but feel a bit sad for her though. I know that no matter what she ever does or accomplishes in her life in America that, like me, neither she nor her son, whom she talks about frequently in her articles, will ever be real Americans. Remember according to the Nemati Rule of Procreation it takes two Americans to make a real apple pie and it takes two Iranians to make a real pomegranate.

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Lance Raheem



Book of the day

Three volume box set of the Persian Book of Kings
Translated by Dick Davis

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