Rest in power to the 176 beautiful human beings that were taken from Mother Earth too quickly, on January 8, 2020, shortly after taking off from Tehran International Airport for Ukraine. Thinking of all of you, your family, and your loved ones.
People in Iran will literally give you the clothes off their back. No exaggeration.
“Ghabel nadareh.” [It’s no big deal.]
“Biya, tokhmeh bokhor.” [Come here, eat some nuts.]
“Gherdoo barat shekastam, biya azizeh delam.” [I’ve broken some walnuts for you to eat, come here my darling.]
You are a guest in Iran, always.
Iranians compete for who pays the bill. Fights ensue. Names called. From the outside, it looks like a misunderstanding, a fight, even. For us, it’s a deep show of care. We call it “Taarof”.
When Iranians walk in front of you, they will always, all ways, apologize.
“Goal poshtooroo nadareh.” [A flower has no front or back.]
The hospitality, the poetic warmth, the generosity; engrained into the very fabric of the culture. Neighbors know one another here. They talk all the time. A guest stops by my grandfather’s house, just to say hello—brings flowers, sweets, dinner—salam, chetori? hello, how are you? I heard your grand-daughter was in town. Bebakhsheed keh zoodtar nayamadam. My apologies for not stopping by sooner. I wish you health, happiness and joy.
“Hameen.” [That’s all.]
For me, it’s everything.
I remember my Haji Baba crying
As I picked up my suitcase and headed for the door
Tehran airport the final destination
He tells me
Bebaksheed ageh keh vaghteh khoobi nadaashtee.
I’m sorry if you didn’t have a good time.
Tears pool quickly fall from his eyes
I kneel down, one knee, embrace him
Feel the hot mass
Azizam, cherah meegee bebasheed? Kheili kosh gozasht eenja.
My dear, why are you apologizing? I had a wonderful time here.
He tells me “Azizeh delam, areh, areh, areh.” [My darling, yes, yes, yes.]
For My Iranians by Ladi Khoddam-Khorasani
Ladan (Ladi) Khoddam-Khorasani, known by her friends and loved ones as Ladi, is an Iranian American womxn poet, story-teller, advocate, and life-long student. Ladi’s writing is mostly fueled by mint and cardamom coffee, dark chocolate, and spontaneous dance parties in her kitchen. Her writing focuses on the power of the human spirit; kindness as a necessary ingredient for intentional living; and the resiliency of community. She currently works as a public health advocate for youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco, and is always looking for ways to connect community to the healing power of the arts. You can find her at IG: ladifuggindadi and/or Twitter: lkhoddam.