Some of the nicest moments of my life happened
October 20, 2003
Parsha Feshfeshani had visitors. They were his wife's
brother's daughter and her husband. They were newlyweds
and they were driving around the country.
On Saturday morning it was decided that he would show them around
the city. His wife had wanted to do it herself but she
was a nurse and one Saturday a month she had to work at the hospital. Parsha
operated a flower stand and he asked his friend Tayehbi, whom
he played backgammon with, if he could take over for the day.
"Parsha," his wife said, "you may not be aware
of this, but we live in a beautiful city. Take them to
the art museum. Take them to the waterfront. Take
them to the street where all the new shops are. Do not
take them to the foolish places where you always want to take
"I don't know any foolish places," Parsha said.
His wife left and Parsha took the young couple out in his car. He
had gone four blocks when he came to the local junior high school. He
turned into the parking lot.
"This is where I taught my son how to drive," he said. "That
was a funny time. Have you ever tried to teach someone
how to drive?"
The young couple shook their heads.
"It's funny," he said. "You think that
if you tell them about what each part of a car does, that's it. But
that's not it."
They left the school and Parsha drove to the park.
"This is where Iranians gather on holidays," he said. "We
have a great picnic. Hundreds of us gather here. It's nice
because the older generation can remember how it was in our country
and the younger generation can learn about how it was. This
is where they cook the kabobs and over there is where they play
volleyball. We used to have gatherings here all the time,
but now it's usually only at the New Year. We used to joke
that now it's the holiday commemorating such-and-such Imam so
we must go to the park. It was funny because most of us
were not very religious."
For lunch Parsha took them to an Italian restaurant in the business
"This is my favorite restaurant," he said. "It
is where my friend Tayehbi and I came one day for lunch. I
always take a sandwich and some fruit and eat at the flower stand
while I'm working. But that day Tayehbi and I came here
for lunch. We sat over there by the window. It was
a beautiful day. We sat and had lunch and looked everybody
out the window."
When the food arrived, they tasted it and Parsha remembered
how it did not have much flavor. It had not had much flavor
the other time he had come but he had forgotten. He could
see that his guests thought the same and he apologized profusely.
"No," they said. "It's all right."
After lunch they went to the waterfront, as Parsha's wife had
suggested. They walked past the piers and the young woman
bought a few things. The only time Parsha normally came
to that area was when he went to the Immigration and Naturalization
Service building. He was part of the committee that tried
to help Iranian refugees when they were being kept there. He
did not have the legal knowledge to do very much, but he would
try to keep their spirits up and he would translate for them
"Come over here," Parsha said. "Let me
show you the INS building."
It was an old brick building with iron bars covering most of
the windows. Parsha smiled when he saw it.
"Some of the nicest moments of my life happened in there," he
said. "I have gone in there when someone is being
kept there who has gotten into the country somehow; an Iranian
who does not speak a word of English, and when they see me, their
face lights up and they begin to pour their heart out. It
is nice to see them, even though we cannot always help them. I
do not mind when they call me to come here even when it is late
He pointed out to them the room where the refugees were kept
and he pointed out the area on the first floor where he had spent
time sitting and waiting. An African family came out the
door and down the steps.
"That is one thing I like about the place," he said. "You
will find somebody from every country in the world."
They walked back and went to the car, stopping along the way
at a bookstore where Parsha had once seen a great Iranian poet
make an appearance while touring America. On the way back
home, they took a different route and Parsha drove past the street
where he had once found the family cat after she had been lost
for several days.
When they came home, Parsha's wife was in the kitchen making
dinner. She saw that their visitors looked happy and she
figured that Parsha must have listened to her this time. Parsha's
friend Tayehbi came to their house to tell him how the day had
gone at the flower stand. Since he had gone out of his
way, Parsha thought it was only right to bring out the backgammon
set and play one game.
In the kitchen the young woman told about their day and the
places they had gone. She said that it was very interesting
for her and her husband. She said that during their trip
they had been taken to many similar places in the different cities
they had visited. It was good to see a city in a different
way, she said.
Parsha's wife looked at him. He was looking at the backgammon
board very closely.
"I'm glad that you enjoyed yourselves," she said. "For
my part, I don't understand him. I told him this morning
to take you to some nice places. I didn't tell him to take
you to see the immigration building."
The young woman laughed.
Parsha looked up.
"What don't you understand?" he said.
"I'm saying that I don't understand you," his wife
said. "We've been married for a long time but I don't
Parsha looked at his friend Tayehbi. It was his turn and
so he had not heard the conversation.
"Well, I'm a simple man," Parsha said. "I
don't know what more I can do to be understood."
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