I meant to leave them behind, God knows how hard I tried,
but they followed me across the globe
October 7, 2004
Mashad had the most melancholic fall season. Not
only did the sound of Azan echo from every minaret,
each year there seemed to be more crows drawn to the tall trees
and each day the sun ran away to hide behind the mountains a
little earlier. People went home for the evening prayers, leaving
the streets lifeless and bare. As a child, I sat outside and
watched the sky turn a dark blue and listened to the sound of
those ugly birds. Before dark, the sky turned red and the crows
flew about in black clothes and screamed, "Marg...marg....marg...."
The song had been the same since the day my mother died. I
swallowed the lump in my throat and promised myself I would leave
When I lived in London, fall didn't seem any worse than other
seasons. Rain became a promise and clouds a part of the city's
gray skyline. Hard work and volumes to study took my mind off
the seasons. I saw no crows, but their vivid image stayed in
my mind. On a few occasions I searched the sky for them, but
like my other childhood memories, they were tucked away inside
Chicago presented a most glorious
fall. Maple trees along Sheridan Road turned from green to a
majestic gold, highlighted with shades of flaming red. People
called them "October's Glory" -- a most befitting name.
I walked along the ravines by Lake Michigan and wondered where,
in all that beauty, lay the sadness. A secure life, a good job
and a healthy family left no reason to feel the deep sorrow I
hid inside. Once in a while, there came a black crow, but now
it sounded as if he said, "Far...far...far..."
Oh, I know, you dumb bird. Home is far away, you don't have
to remind me.
Life's responsibilities provided a good distraction. Although
I would not let the negative energy of fall bother me, I failed
to understand how anyone could love such a gloomy season. It
never seemed to leave soon enough and when it did, a long cold
winter didn't provide the much needed cheer either. So, each
October, the sight of pumpkins at people's doorsteps promised
darker days. My heart felt heavy at the anticipation of the worst
yet to come.
So the gypsy in search of inner peace moved to where there
would be no autumn, a place that promised an abundance of sunshine
and a year-round spring.
The soft breeze of the Pacific promises that my flowers will
survive throughout the year. Here, the grass remains green, the
trees keep their leaves and the sun shines in a sky that maintains
"Don't you miss the change of seasons?" a neighbor
Her question has awakened me. No, I don't miss anything. I
never left autumn. I seem to have taken my memories around the
world with me: the tall trees of Mashad, the stony mountain,
the echo of Azan. They have miraculously fit in my small suitcase.
I meant to leave them behind, God knows how hard I tried, but
they followed me across the globe.
For a few days now, a couple of crows have found
my garden. They come by every day and shriek their unwelcome
song. It has become the morbid duet of my sunsets.
"Marg... marg... marg..."
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani is a freelance writer,
poet and artist. She lives in San Diego, California.