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Polite end
"I am the same little boy you stopped talking to; I want to know why," I wrote

By Mehrdad R
January 7, 2004

It is Sunday afternoon and I am taking refuge on a bench in Saee Park in Tehran writing on my laptop. The man beside me is curious as to what I am typing but does not go far enough to ask me. I have come back to this country after 20 years. The first few days were spent in the streets, shops and visiting old friends.

Iran has definitely changed during my absence. In the early 1980s the war had put a strain on the country's resources. Now I see that pretty much anything can be found in superfluous amounts. I am amazed by the chaotic streets that handle more cars than they were built for.

A week goes by and I am headed to my old neighborhood. The moment I step in the street where our old apartment was located a heavy feeling of melancholy greets me. I stand right in front of our old apartment and gaze at our window. To my amazement everything looks just like the way it was.

I slowly walk to the building opposite ours. Suddenly I see small vignettes of when I was 10 playing with my friends. I hear the sound of laughter, sound of foot steps of young boys and girls playing catch. I am reminded of the real reason I am here.

I am trying to find out what happened to a little girl I used to play with. A girl who had fascinated me from the day I had laid eyes on her. I can still remember how my thin ten year old legs would shake every time she spoke to me. The day she stopped talking to me was the day my young soul was wounded forever.

I found the steps on which twenty years ago I sat gazing at the same elevator waiting for her to come down. To my surprise the elevator stopped on the 9th floor, her floor. I know if my statistician friend were here he would tell me that based on a Poisson distribution, this is a rare event. Maybe even a sign.

I decide to ask the janitor about her. I knock and am astonished at seeing the same janitor. I hug and greet him. He tells me she is married now but he has a phone number.

I finally convince a friend to call her number. My friend calls me back telling me that the original number was incorrect but she has found her number and email address. She will call me.

I decide to email first and use this informal medium to break the ice. "I am the same little boy you stopped talking to; I want to know why," I wrote.

The next day I pick up the phone and call. A warm, calm voice picks up. I introduce myself and ask if she remembers me. "Of course I do" she replies. I ask her about the fate of our other playmates. She gives me a short response about some of them.

I ask about how she has been doing all these years. "We moved from the neighborhood a few years after you," she says. "I went to university and met a young man and married him. I have a young son now."

I listen eagerly knowing that this is what I had expected. There will be no miracles happening today.

She then asks about my life. I tell her that I left Iran in 1983 and am a scientist doing research. I am in Tehran to see if I can do any collaborative work with some Iranian scientists on the long-term effects of chemical warfare.

I sense our conversation is ending but I still don't know the answer to my question. I politely end the conversation. She does not mention anything about meeting. I know that a meeting between a married woman and a single man has no place in our culture.

I am happy knowing that I have said what I had been wanting to say for twenty years. My mission is accomplished. I say good bye and hang up the phone.

I don't know if having loved and lost is better than never having loved at all. I guess I will always wonder. Two weeks later I left Iran for a more familiar place.

This article is dedicated to S.A

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