Jan 25, 2011

it all happened in my head

This is a small box of my dad's notes sir. I cant get rid of it. I have to take it with me. You don't understand. I lost my dad when I was 19. Do you want to know how? oh I am sure you don't. People don't like to hear sad stories. Life is too short to be sad. But see, this note, my dad used to write me little pieces of poems and put them on my night table when I was asleep. You know what it says? of course you don't. You don't read Farsi. It says "Only from the heart Can you touch the sky." It is from Rumi. I was 17 then. So see, I cant leave this box behind.

This one? oh no sir. I cant leave this one either. This is my grandfather's diary. Oh, I should write about him one day. They say I am just like him. He was an actor. A very restless soul sir. I get you are not interested in personal stories but everything in this suitcase has a story. In his diary he wrote about his first days, months and years as an immigrant. I am going to be an immigrant in about 24 hours. I need his wisdom. Don't you think?

This little plastic bag? This weighs no more than 300 grams sir. I have to take it. This is my childhood in this plastic bag. You see this empty TakTak bag? Oh! you have no idea what TakTak is, do you? Ok, I will tell you. We grew up in war. There was no KitKat. It was banned. All foreign made chocolates and candies were banned from entering the country. Sanctions and such. Then some smart guy made TakTak, an unfortunate tasting imitation of KitKat. Our dad was away for long periods of time for work and our grandparents would bring us goodies. All made in Iran. All tasting bad. But we didn't care. We saved them all in a big plastic bag in the storage room. We were little kids sir and the yukky goodies were so tempting but we were determined that we would wait until dad gets back so we could have them as a family. Now, you see sir, this old faded TakTak bag is so precious to me. I cant leave it behind sir.

Oh this yellow bandanna! You know sir, there was a student protest in my country years ago. I was there. I couldn't breathe. There was tear gas and batons. I get it. You are not interested. I shouldn't be boring you with my nonsense. After all you are a costume officer not a social worker. A young student gave this yellow bandanna to me to cover my face. He was covering his own face with it. I was chocking sir. He saw me. Took my hand and we ran together. He then gave me his wet bandanna and ran. It has to be wet to protect you from tear gas. I know you didn't know this. I am happy you didn't have to learn this on a hot Summer day like I did.

Thanks sir for letting me take this extra 2 pounds to my new home. You know I never saw that boy again. The one who gave me his wet bandanna. I want to think that he survived and found himself a new home. Just like I did.

Jan 18, 2011

A nation's dream...

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes, A Dream Deferred

Jan 15, 2011

Trauma in "Farsi"

My mom and I sit in the living room every night when my husband reads to our son and tucks him in. I sometimes watch a documentary or a movie on my laptop or read a book, an article or some of my favourite blogs when my mom watches the news on Iranian satellite we got for her last month when she came here for a visit. I have chosen to avoid all Iranian TV channels as they bring back a lot of trauma and bad memories for me.

I admire my mom’s strength and spirit for being able to sit there quietly, watch the news, discuss what is happening and give me her political –sometimes hilariously funny- analysis of the situation, kiss me goodnight and go to bed. She told me the other night that she still has hope. She told me I am so bitter because I have lost hope. She said one dies when one loses hope. I thought about what she said for two days to realize once again that moms probably do know the best.

Now, I find it quite fascinating that I am living this double life. When I leave work my “Persian life” starts. I speak Farsi to my son, I make Iranian food, I don’t watch Iranian TV but I follow the news on internet. (I can only read the news as watching it will expose me to sounds, pictures, and faces that are major triggers for me). I read Farsi books to my son and play English board games with him in Farsi. We talk about the top news of Iran in Farsi over supper. I am anxious, passionate, on edge, filled with love, I am a bag of mixed emotions and feelings. There is Trauma in "Farsi".

I go to work every day. We greet each other in English. We talk about our workload pressure and the bad air quality of the building and our spirited toddlers and crazy teenagers and hockey and the damn long Canadian Winters with all the germs and viruses. I am calmer, nicer, more focused, have more energy. We ask each other “how are you?” and we answer each other “fine, lots to do as always. How are you?” There is no trauma in "English".

I should find some studies that would show how living in the context of a language/culture can bring the trauma close to surface.