Living In A Documentary
I was 17 when I left Iran to study architecture in Paris. I was still there when the Iranian revolution occurred.
The first time I went back to Iran after the revolution was during the war. At this time Teheran was not under attack but the city seemed quite depressing. There were frequent blackouts, numerous check points and graffitis all over the walls. My parents have had to move from our house to a rented flat. The landlords/neighbors were a family from Esfahan, they were old acquaintances of my grandfather’s.
Both my parents had adapted themselves to their new life. My mother was, as always, very busy: she always had an open door to friends and many “protégé’s” to take care of. She was managing the shopping with the new “coupon” system. Sewing scarves and selling them in private was a new occupation.
My father’s style was different: He used to listen to the BBC news on the radio, go to bed and sleep after some reading … at about 6pm!! My mother used to say that he didn’t see a single evening in their new home! He would wake up very early, go to his office, whether there was something to do or not. He had a new camera, and photography was his new hobby.
It is always an intense moment when you go back to your homeland after a few years.
There was like a layer of dust and dirt all over the city. Obviously no one had cared to make any repair to their houses in recent years. Insides of building were as gloomy as the outsides.
The society had a totally new organization and people I knew had undergone almost the whole spectrum of possible adjustments.
I discovered that A was an active revolutionary, he had already served in the front of the new war and now had a good position in some ministry. My 13 year old cousin, who wanted to go to the front, was send to Europe by his parents, while S was proud of his son’s martyrdom. A street nearby was named after a young student in Europe, who returned to Iran at the beginning of the war to defend his country. He was killed as soon as he arrived to the war zone. My best friend’s father had fled the country through the mountains of Kurdistan after a year of hiding. R had obtained a very good position in another governmental office, N was taking paying passengers on his car while going forth and back between his first and second job. Many had left the country, many intended to do so. Conversations were mainly about the latest news, the new laws, and endless speculations about the future. Each one was eager to tell you his or her story, fears or hopes.
A French friend asked me on the phone what was life like in Teheran, I told her it was like living in a documentary.
Although I was happy to be home, it was way too different from life in Iran as I knew it. I was eager to leave and resume the life I was accustomed to. At that time, I just couldn’t stand that much tension. On the day of my departure, I was inflicted by some strange virus, its symptom was absolute tiredness. Planes were full, and delaying my departure meant to postpone it for an unknown date in a few weeks. I almost crawled to the airport, and as soon as I was in Paris I crawled again into a café. I really needed to feel some “normal life”, freedom or happiness. It was a sunny day and people were sitting outside.
I realized that I didn’t see many happy faces around me. I thought god, look at all that they (and I) have here … it was all taken for granted, and we didn’t seem to do much with it.