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Leaving Tehran
Remembering every tear, every suitcase, and every good-bye, not knowing where or when the next hello will be

April 28, 2004

In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage. To know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is the most disquieting loneliness. --Alex Haley

I leave Tehran on the brightest of mornings when the sun is shining high above me and the beautiful Mount Damavand smiling my way. Where I will go, and where it will lead me, is yet to be known, but where I leave and the things I leave behind, are as clear as the morning light coming down my way.

The pear tree that has given me fruit for all the summers I can bring to memory waves good-bye and, for the last time today, I water my roses, taking care to remember each one by one knowing that there will never again be another reunion.

I say farewell to the beautiful city of shattered memories and broken dreams, the city covered by mountains on all sides, like a bird in cupped hands. And today for the first time I feel the reasons that have taken home away from me. Cats and dogs have left its beauties unseen, while all the time ripping its feathers, not caring one bit what the consequences will bring.

As I sit in there in the taxi, taking note to keep in mind every scene, I remember all the other taxis I've been in, not sitting there to go to grandma's or Kate's but all of those that have taken my home to replace it with yet another. Those that have left me in wonder and
bewilderment with the one and only question that, up to now, I have found no answers for. The ever lasting "Where is home, really?"

Remembering every tear, every suitcase, and every good-bye, not knowing where or when the next hello will be.

No more listening to the beautiful notes of a blind music man who plays with his heart, no more walking in the gorgeous streets of my favorite neighborhood, no more heavy traffic, no more polluted air and no more looking up at the ocean-blue sky that belongs to a city named Tehran.

I think of the scenes that will surround me after the long plane ride I have before me and bringing to mind all these things comforts me to a certain degree, but then I see that little
innocent face standing somewhere in the street and feel that there must be something wrong; she is no less deserving.

Among my own people it is amazing how different we have become. Their language, their actions, their every task is alien to me. But why? Don't I have the same eyes? Don't I have the same blood running through my veins? Does my light colored hair set us worlds apart? But then again, I saw that girl walking in front of me with hair as blond as my yellow crayon and she seemed to fit in perfectly.

With them I feel like I am living through the story I read long ago; entering Juffure, the home that Kunta Kinte left by force centuries before. But the difference is that I feel as if I am Alex and Kunta put together. I am the one who has left, and yet again, I am the one who returns. The centuries created the gap between those two people, the distance is what separates the two living inside of me.

Living thousands of miles away from my homeland has given me the chance that many can never even dream of. The chance to live a comfortable life, go to a great school, the opportunity to know the meaning of security and freedom and have unlimited horizons to grow. But at the same time, there will forever be a gap no one can fill, a missing piece in the puzzle that no one can ever find any replacement for.

And yet, even though it is miles away from my place of original birth, I cannot help loving the other environment I belong to. I cannot help admiring the way they handle everyday life. I feel deep emotion for the waterfall that I have been to every summer since; I love the amusement park that would not permit me to ride on its roller coasters. I remember checking my height year and year after with disappointment, and the squeal of joy when finally my growth hormones gave me the permission to go.

Perhaps having the chance to belong to two different places has beauties that may not be seen at first. Maybe, home is not just one place but two places at the same time. Maybe that has beauties that I have yet to discover. Maybe the waterfall I have seen in Niagara and Shushtar aren't so different after all. Because no matter how tremendously they might vary in size, the joy that comes towards me from watching both feels much the same.

Perhaps, Dorothy was wrong; Maybe there is a place like home.

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By Najmeh Fakhraie


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