Rain pounds at my window from a grayish-green sky. The leaves of the palm trees bend down, bowing to the wild wind’s demands. Violent thunder shakes the window as spears of lightning illuminate the storm-darkened garden beyond.
As I sit on the couch, wrapped in my soft brown blanket, a cup of coffee in my hand, I open a box filled with old photographs. Sifting through the stack, I come across some pictures of me as a little girl, when we used to live in our old house. My sister, my brothers, Papa, Mom, and my only friend, Hamlet, appear in many of them.
At a very young age, my siblings and I learned that to survive, we had to be obedient and protect one another. These photos are reminiscent of the bitter days of Mom’s heartless punishments; days filled with fear from her unpredictable anger. Most of all, they are a reminder of my stolen childhood and unfortunate teenage years.
Sadness engulfs me. Quiet tears roll down my face. I catch them with the sides of my fingers before they drop on the pictures. I look to see if there are any forgotten photos. That’s when I find some from my middle-school years. One picture shows my friends and me singing the national anthem. We look solemn, but I smile, recalling how we were really admiring the king and queen’s royal crowns. Another depicts my sister, after joining the Shah’s army, dressed in her khaki uniform and lavender bandana. I grab another picture. This one’s from high school. I am there along with new students who had lost their homes due to the war with Iraq.
Despite the tyranny of Iran’s regime, we never anticipated any other ruler. Remembering the radical change to an Islamic government under Khomeini’s rule, I am amazed. Gone were dreams of the future. Focusing on daily living became our goal. We were trying to adjust to changing from a westernized kingdom to a religious anti-western government. As if that was not enough, Iran’s seemingly eternal conflict with its neighbor meant we also had to cope with Iraqi fighter jets’ continual bombing.
My life had its own battlefield. Besides the new Islamic government and a war-torn country, Mom’s abuse, narcissism, and psychotic behavior at home left me no safe place to shelter.
The sound of thunder draws my attention to the back yard. I see my reflection in the window and I remember all the pain, the loss, the numbered joys. Taking a sip from my coffee, my eyes fall upon a small picture of Hamlet sitting on the floor near the Christmas tree, running his choo-choo train.
At that moment, the urge to write rushes through my veins, so I begin. I write so I can share my journey of disappointments from which I found a thread of hope.