there in the half-light, reading, not Lolita, but a novel by de Sade. Bodies around a tree. How detached it seemed. How distant. Outside was fear. Inside the contemporary art museum, a giant newspaper boat. Knives suspended from the ceiling. Saddam was bombing Tehran. Mum told us the noise was thunder in the mountains. Then the windows shattered. Adults gathered around the radio. My great aunt refused to go into the cellar. If a bomb hit the house, she wanted to die straight away, not get trapped underground. Every night, sirens, bombs, anti-aircraft guns. Every morning, warm bread for breakfast, mint, feta cheese, hot tea. Sometimes crisp, cool kharboozeh, a pale green melon from Masshad. Very good with bread and cheese.
Noon o paneer o kharboozeh, Bokhor bebeen che khoshmaze! My dad would teach us the rhyme:
Bread and cheese and kharboozeh, Eat and see how delicious! It didn’t work in translation.
Bombers were targeting the airport. As our plane took off, you could feel the relief, smell it: the adults all lit up.