Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been
New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Arkansas Press
Title Page, Copyright
Acknowledgments, Quote, Dedication
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Like the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, women of the Iranian diaspora—mothers, daughters, sisters,wives, girlfriends, aunts, cousins—have inherited the heartbreak and hurt of the émigré, the immigrant, the exiled, the disconnected, the misunderstood and unwelcome; in a word: the uprooted. ...
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This collection reflects the vision and vibrancy of so many people. I would first like to thank all the writers who entrusted me with their poetry and prose and allowed me to gather their individual work in this symphony of women’s voices. ...
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Long before the taking of hostages at the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979, the United States and Iran had a complicated relationship. Until Uncle Sam’s ill-fated friendship with the Shah, most Americans hadn’t even heard of Iran. ...
The Sun Is a Dying Star
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I dress with the same care some would use to polish a weapon. Not that it matters, I lost this battle at birth. But I shade the hollows with mystery, and coax pain into disdain. A flashing ghost of a doubt, a microscopic prick to their convictions—that’s all I ask. ...
The Break (from Saffron Sky)
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I was fifteen years old. I was going to Amrika, which meant that I no longer needed to envy my classmate Marjan, who ordered her summer clothes from the Spiegel catalogue, my cousin Reza, who was attending boarding school in England, or my friend Azadeh, who would be going to school in Switzerland in the fall. ...
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They are antique coins, strapped on, zigzag dancing in the street, fallen change from a pocket. They are bronze, slip-in-strap-around high heels I aim to balance in as I step quickly, hum the national anthem, mouth open, the smell of gin hot and sweet on my tongue. ...
With a Little Help from My Friends (from Funny in Farsi)
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I was lucky to have come to America years before the upheaval in Iran. The Americans we encountered were kind and curious, unafraid to ask questions and willing to listen. As soon as I spoke enough English to communicate, I found myself being interviewed nonstop by children and adults alike. ...
Another Quiet New Year
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The streets, though,were bustling. After dinner I decided to save money and walk home—the weather was nice and the young hipsters paraded around in the latest styles. A cab drove up and offered to take me the whole way for a very good price. I made the ceremonial “that’s too expensive!” ...
My Brother at the Canadian Border
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On their way to Canada in a red Mazda, my brother and his friend, Ph.D.’s and little sense, stopped at the border and the guard leaned forward, asked: Where you boys heading? My brother, Welcome to Canada poster in his eyes, replied: Mexico. The guard blinked, stepped back then forward, said: Sir, this is the Canadian border. …
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Nineteen seventy-nine was the year that was the beginning of the end and the beginning of a new beginning. The Democrats were about to lose their hold on the White House and Reaganomics would soon become an unavoidable reality. Nightline was born that year. ...
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I know it was the rain, a conversation with a friend, a downward glance, and—with this alignment—the possibility that I would have, at long last, something of myself to pour. These were my beginnings for this, a less reproachful way of examining my chronology of escape, paralysis, and pleasure. ...
Arrivals and Departures
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My flight landed at Mehrabad Airport on a cold January night in 2001. This was the first time I had been back to Iran since 1977 and I was nervous. I fiddled with my headscarf, worried that it would be seen as inadequate by the person who had the authority to stamp my passport allowing me entry into the country. ...
Exerpt from To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America
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That night in bed I watch the clouds race like horses over the moon. I think of Baba as a boy, galloping up into those hills to hunt, secure in the life his father has built for him. Agha Jan’s house sheltered his siblings, his wives and their relatives, and his children and servants. ...
Next Year in Cyprus
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My mother was never the typical Southern beauty. Dry and winsome as a Texas sunset, she wore her long blond hair down and loose throughout the pincurled fifties, read Dostoevsky and Unamuno, listened to Lightnin’ Hopkins and jazz, and dreamed of becoming a lawyer. ...
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The days leading up to Aunt Ezzat’s wedding were filled with activity. Carpets were turned upside-down to prevent them from being stained by the throng of guests expected on the second story of our house where the wedding was to be held, extra chairs and china sets stacked throughout the living room and the parlor. ...
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Crack the hard shell of walnuts, throw the shell away and place the walnuts in a jar of water. Change the water every few hours, and repeat this for several days. Eventually, the thin brown skin gets soft and can be peeled off easily. ...
On the Rooftop
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Under her black veil, in the darkest fold, where the sharp odor of rosewater mixes with the scent of earth and dust of many holy shrines, in a hidden corner, under her long, thick chador, death sits silently, brooding. ...
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Hot afternoon, in a city far from home, one hour by train if no delays, she walks back from work to the station. Tired, dragging a computer on her shoulder—hating the computer at this moment, yet appreciating its value at the back of her mind, giving her a job even in this bad economy ...
Love in a Time of Struggle (from Lipstick Jihad)
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To be a young woman in the Iran of the Islamic Republic involved a certain degree of uncertainty over one’s identity, or at the very least, over one’s romantic priorities. Most of my girlfriends had no idea whether they had a “type.” ...
Becoming a Woman
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I grew up and became a woman in Jamalzadeh koucheh (alley) in Tehran. My parents, who were both educators, joined the Iranian middle class when they first bought an apartment there. Our neighbors were Zoroastrians,Christians, Muslims, and Jews. ...
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The morning of her Saturday math camp group, my mother, Darya, calls to say she has found the perfect gift for my twenty-fifth birthday. “His name is Mr. Dashti,” she says, almost breathless on the phone.“Two degrees, a Ph.D. and an M.B.A. He is a descendant of the third cousin of Reza Shah. ...
Axis of Evil
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“Yes, that’s what I was told,” the passenger answers, thinking about how annoyed his wife will be that he’s so late from work. Maybe he should just go home. If he doesn’t stop by the mosque, it will look rude. After all, it’s his co-worker’s son. ...
When Toys Are Us
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Neatly shrink-wrapped, they stood straight and tall next to the Navy battleships and the Bradley fighting vehicles. They were toys, with names that echoed the war in Afghanistan and Iraq—names like “G.I. Joe Adventure Team” and “Ultimate Soldier, U.S. Desert Special Operations.” ...
Exerpts from Stones in the Garden
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Khaleh Farah turned from the bed and drew the black curtain across the partition that separated the two rooms of the apartment. The room had been a storage area, but after they moved in, Khaleh Farah had immediately sewn together the black curtain, making the space the girls’ bedroom.“ ...
Magical Chair of Nails: Becoming a Writer in a Second Language
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Less than a year ago, I made one of the most important decisions of my life: I quit a prestigious job in the world’s hub—the coveted New York City—for the quiet of the country. I chose a writer’s life. Happily I emptied my desk, neatly leaving sharpened pencils and boxes of paper clips for that unknown successor, ...
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Waves wash away Hamid’s footprints in the sand. He wanders toward the dregs of a wooden boat, and I follow him. It’s early in the morning, and except for our presence, the beach is devoid of human life. ...
Tales Left Untold
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Why did all Iranians in Toronto know Soleiman? No one knew. Soleiman wasn’t wealthy, he wasn’t a poet, a writer, a musician, a singer, he didn’t boast university or scientific titles. Soleiman was an ordinary person who chose to be quiet. But Soleiman’s silence spoke volumes and people read words into his silence. ...
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My sister and her husband had left Iran for Eshgh Abaad as a newly married couple, he filled with the hopes and promise of becoming a successful merchant, and she filled with the satisfaction of having a husband capable of such a task. Now, after two years, they were coming back, ...
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Azin Arefi was born in Iran and moved to the United States when she was eleven years old. She studied English literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and received her master’s in creative writing with an emphasis in fiction at UC Davis. ...
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About the Authors, Back Cover
Page Count: 428
Publication Year: 2006