One of them
The thing I traded my national pride for
By G. Alam
October 18, 2001
I do ... was what I said to the Immigration and Naturalization Service
officer as I was holding up my right hand.
She had been reading something to me for a while, rapidly and carelessly,
not looking at me. I was looking at her but paying attention. Among her
words, phrases like "renouncing my fidelity to other countries",
"defending America", "allegiance to the constitution"
forced their ways into my ears.
As I was standing there, with my right hand up, taking the oath of allegiance,
I couldn't help but remembering the Iran-Iraq war, my friends who died in
that war, my training period during military service and my grandma's face
when she was moving out of her missile-stricken home.
The officer finished with "... so help me God", raised her
head and looked at me. That was my cue to say "I do" and I did.
I kept my right hand up in the air, still staring at her, trying to imagine
what would happen if I continued with a "not".
The officer, who had been calling me "Sir" persistantly --
as if she wanted to make a point -- told me I may lower my hand. I sheepishly
obliged and she handed me a piece of paper and congratulated me for becoming
one of them.
I stepped out of the room cleared my way through a crowd, a crowd which
was not yet part of them. I got into my car and drove for a few minutes,
aimlessly. Then I pulled over and asked for the nearest post office to
apply for my U.S. passport, the thing I traded my national pride for.
Life is by far less complicated if one takes the easiest path. Some choose
not to, and, if they are lucky, they become part of the elite. I, a citizen
of the U.S., declare myself stripped from that privilege.
This piece was sent to iranian.com on August 1, 2001