Skip to main content
Read page text

Tehran, back again. Stranger to the place. Plane trees still lined the boulevards, water still ran down from the mountains in joob along the roadsides. In the park, a man was still selling balloons. You could still smell corn on the cob roasting on charcoal. The Japanese garden was still there, with its ornamental trees and rocks and raked gravel. But the park was renamed, Laleh. And the dress code had changed: you had to look as drab as possible, to avoid notice. No bright clothes. No make-up. I didn’t mind wearing the roosaree (head-scarf ). It was an adventure. I was in disguise. Sitting in our old flat on Boulevard Keshavarz (formerly Boulevard Elizabeth) refusing to accept tea or sweets (Quality Street) from the tenants who had claimed it as their own. A modern, stylish flat. Earthquake proof. We had run away, they said. We were never coming back. Don’t eat the sweets, my mother warned us. Don’t accept their hospitality. They are trying to take our flat. Persephone. Behind the metal gates of my great-aunt’s house, you could wear what you wanted. We swam in the little pond and watched my grandmother shell broad beans, hollowing out watermelon skins for us to sail like boats on the little pond. The watermelons arrived in an open-top truck and were rolled down into the cellar. Every day she would take one and cut it for us and make juice from what was left. The garden had two tall dusty persimmon trees, the round orange fruit high out of reach. There was a pomegranate. The gardener said he’d cut off my nose if I picked one. Inside was dark; a cool terrazzo floor. Sometimes, at night, we’d hear the scuttle of cockroaches – soosk – their sickly sweet smell. Upstairs, a room was always closed off. Rolled up carpets. Mothballs. Boxes full of books, left behind. I sat

65

My Bookmarks


    Skip to main content