An Iranian Story

by: Linda Ghasemi


Last night Baba came from Iran and Babak (my brother) picked him up from
the airport. I couldn't go, I was busy at work.

When I got home that night to the two-bedroom two bath condo that my sister
and I share, mom--who had already been here for a while for a long visit--was
cooking in the kitchen, Babak and baba were discussing something, and Leila
(our baby sister) was watching TV on loud. Our cold and depressing
condo was totally transformed, and it now looked so delightful and quite homey. It
was like the North pole had suddenly turned into Hawaii.

The dark cold atmosphere of the condo had driven me to become a workaholic, and I
had come to hate going there and sitting by myself. But now, if I only had a genie in a
bottle, I would have asked her to freeze the time. But, oh well, genies really
belong to Disney Cartoons and not to us the Middle Easterners!!.

Everyone of us in the room had our own unique story. Mom, the mother of
four, has 3 kids in the US and one in Canada, while her parents are at home. She
sometimes forgets in which country she had slept the night before.  Father for
whom America is no place to live, comes for short visits to see the kids and
his wife, then goes back after a couple of months. He lives all by himself
in the dream house that he and mother built in the long years of their happy
marriage. When back home, he says, he can't sleep in his master bedroom anymore 
because every morning he has to see the empty place of the woman that
he has loved and cherished so, for years.

And then there is my brother, Babak, the hardworking successful engineer with a
job in a good company and some stock options! Babak claims that he has not
had anything but pasta for the last 6 months! He is not in love with his
job, but has no choice other than doing it. He is constantly worrying that
the pink slip might already be on his desk when he goes back to Washington,
after his one week vacation here. 

All of a sudden he finds himself asking about the girl that he had a secret
crush on for years. He asks mom:

"Did you say she is getting married? Who is the guy she is engaged to? He
lives in Europe? ha! How can she marry a guy that she has just known for 3

And mom responds from the kitchen: "Vaa, what did you expect?, she just
wants to get away from her father's house. She is living in Iran and not in
America. Girls over there don't live like your sisters--did you forget?" 

Of-course he forgot, he was sent here when he was barely  seventeen.
Mom and dad don't know anything about his feelings for that girl, he told me
once but at the time he thought he was too young for any commitment.
Everybody now expects him to bring a Blondie home, a super model maybe, or a
Chinese girl! He is now too Americanized. I don't know what he thinks any
more but I know he feels left out, maybe from the Iranian Club!

And my baby sister, her story is just beginning. She is OK, she likes it
here. In one of her classes at college, the teacher asked the students
whose parents still live together to raise their hand. Only 10% of the
students did so. Her story is about confusion, my innocent baby sister,
coming to the U.S. from the simple world of Iranian girls.

My story is, well, just like everybody else living and working in this
country. Work, school, work, degree, job, home, monthly bills, more classes,
asshole bosses, driving cars on freeways, stupid Monday staff meetings,
shopping at Costco on the weekends, neurotic friends. The American girl
friends who are always complaining about their boyfriends who dumped them,
or their irresponsible split-up parents and their horrible childhood. Or, the
Iranian gals who are looking for Mr. Perfect and never stop talking on the
phone about it (Zerangye bazi dokhtarha), and thanking god for not being in Iran!!

Our family now looks like a true Iranian family. My older sister is married
and lives up in Canada, my brother lives in Washington and me and my sister
in California. My mom comes and stays for six months at a time and (be
zamino zaman fohsh mideh) and then escapes back home, with a husband lonely
in his home, counting the days for her to come back. Maybe we are not
scattered enough, as a true Iranian family should be!!! I know families who
are scattered over 3 continents!! 

It is true that we don't live in a house where a mother or father is there
for us, and we don't have even our close families around; but at least we live
in a land where there is freedom of speech, where we can say whatever we
want, even though nobody seems to listen! We all know that everyday we
should wake up and thank god for not living in Iran! And we should thank god
for being able to go to Costco! every week-end and being able to shop until
we drop! I know, I know, I thank god for every moment of it.

But I can't help feeling darkness inside when I am alone, going back to
the depressing condo, Leila at library and no one around to even have a normal
conversation with. No baba to tell the world news, no maman to hug and kiss,
just turn the TV on and watch CNN!! I wished there was a genie
who could now freeze the time and let me live these moments when we are
together, forever. I wished.