What are you?
To me, you’re
Distant memories of a rowdy child
The Goosebumps in the cold dark cinema
With a frosty Pepsi in hand
The garlic flavor of bologna, the orange color of Fanta
The salt of doogh*.
The burning sensation, the sting of punishment
In the palms of my hands.
The painful strikes of the merciless flog
For my sloppy homework or being late to school.
You’re every word I misspelled I was dictated to.
You’re the sweet steam of the baked beets
On the street vendor’s cart
You’re the stripes of the plastic balls I kicked as a child
You’re as dark as gooey as the melted tar
Stuck to the sole of my bare feet in summer heat of Ahvaz
You’re the brawls I had with friends at school breaks
You’re my sore throat, my doctor excuse
My ruthless teachers in third grade and four
Slap in my face, excruciating pain of
A pencil squeezed between my fingers.
You’re my first the day of spring, the New Year’s joy
Aroma of roasted nuts, the haft seen, the hyacinth
The crisp money my father gave to everyone
The New Year’s break, thirteen days of happiness.
You’re as scarlet as poppies blanketed the meadows
In spring of our town.
You’re the scent of bread my aunt baked every Friday,
On the roof of her house
Oh! and I dodged your wrath every time my angry mother
Threw a shoe, orange peel or a spatula at me
Now that I think of it the spatula, I didn’t dodge
On that autumn afternoon
The spatula hit me, right in the forehead between my eyes
And I cherished your mercy, your kindness and compassion
In the lap of my favorite aunt After every punishment.
And I enjoyed your loans from aunt Zari’s petty cash,
The coins I barrowed, the ones I never repaid.
You’re my feverish youth, one stolen kiss
I swear to God, only one from my first love
That forbidden touch, at the age of fourteen!
The mischievous innocence, and the scandalous affair
The long family feud that came afterward
You’re in the books I read in solitude
The new horizon I saw
Illicit ideals, contraband thoughts
The taboo of your life and certainly mine
Freedom for all.
Then came the turmoil, the revolution
The decisive moments
A rush in my veins to make my dream come true
I was there with millions in the streets
In the heat of upheaval in labyrinth of Tehran.
We made the change
For better we hoped, the worse it become
When the fever quenched and dust settled,
Hopes dashed, fear, despair, sorrow
Only terror was left behind
Then it came the time to leave you behind
I had to survive, surely you understand.
To live in foreign land, hoping one day I would call it home
Years and years past, that day never came
You’re an enigma, a tall shadow
An innocent angel born in the limbo of my hazy dreams
I’m intoxicated by an exotic mélange of sentiments
Some I don’t comprehend
Some I don’t dare to share
Some I never had before
Some I may never have again.