i'm not sure i did the right thing

i just changed it all with the click of a mouse. oh well, when i get back to high speed internetville, i'll put up links and change some things around. but i must say, this whole new blogger is very nice...

today we went to my grandparents' land, a few miles away, and clipped sour orange blossoms to dry and take home for my mom. standing there in the trees, i got that feeling i sometimes get here, of "this is home," and it was all alright for a moment. i also went through my grandma's musty closets and found some things from the 60s and 70s that were awful! but they made for great pictures. what i really wanted was the old kurdish outfits, but they were in a closet whose key was nowhere to be found. we're going to see if we can get some new ones made just for me, since i don't know if we'll ever find that key.

it's good i was able to feel at home there, because just the other day i was thinking how jiggly and uncomfortable i feel that i don't really fit in anywhere. the only place where i can walk down the street without people unashamedly staring at me is berkeley. am i really that strange looking? at first i thought i was being paranoid, but lately people who walk with me have been making remarks about it, so i feel like i am not making it up. everywhere else, i look different. here, at least my face looks like everyone else's, but people know, from my clothes, my speech, maybe the way i walk, that i am not from here, that i am farhangi. and i get crap for it, all of the time. people try to rip me off, to touch me, to bother me. they say stuff to me, thinking i don't understand, they chase me and hoot and glare, and i hate it.

my aunt asked me if i wanted to take a walk with her the other afternoon, since we are inside most of the day, and i asked her in which direction she wanted to go. she pointed uphill, behind the house, toward the forest, and i grimaced and said that i had already had a bad experience on that road once before. she had no clue what i was talking about, so i told her that, 4 years ago, when i was here for nearly a month, with just my grandparents, the looming due date for my play and shakespeare thesis, and computer solitaire to help pass the time, i couldn't take being inside any more one day and insisted to my grandmother that i was going to take a hike. she didn't try to discourage me, but she did tell me to be careful. so i put on my fancy italian hiking boots, and my californian sunglasses, and of course covered my hair with a scarf and my body with a rupush, and set out. i told her i'd be back in an hour.

i trudged up the hill, trying to ignore the women and men looking at me and saying stuff, and eventually i hit the main beltway that leads to tehran, which i'd have to follow for a little bit before i could reach the trail to the forest. as i walked, i felt like evry single passing truck and car honked at me, but i wasn't really near the side of the road or anything. i knew, inside, that they could tell that i was khareji and that they were heckling me, but i didn't want to admit it. i just kept trying to ignore it. and then, i stopped to tie my shoelace that had come undone, and a pickup truck full of dirty men drove by slowly, all of them yelling at me and telling me to come hop onto their truck and ride off into the sunset with me. ugh, it was so disgusting. i tried to walk faster and look away, but they just slowed down to trail me. so i crossed the road to try to get away from them, and while i was patting myself on the back for how smart i was, they sped off and made a uturn and came back to bother me some more. when some of them got out of the truck and started to come toward me, i started to yell insults. i hadn't wanted to speak, because i knew that that would really give me away, but i felt like it was time to say something. so i told the dirty fecks to get away, and i started to run.

i ran, and they followed. i ran, i was so scared. i ran and ran and ran. i hoped that someone driving by--it was a busy road--would stop and help or fend them off or honk and tell them to leave me alone, but people only laughed. so i ran and ran to get back home, and they kept following me. i saw a woman in a chador ahead, walking her daughter home from school, and i asked her if i could please walk with her. she had seen that these dirty fecks were heckling and following me, and she cursed at them, but then she told me that i couldn't walk with her. WHAT?!!!

she turned to her daughter and said, "see, don't you ever be stupid like this retarded foreigner who came here and thought she could do what she wanted. she is so dumb, don't ever be like this." she turned to me and cursed me out, the guys still following us, and i wouldn't leave her, so i walked right behind her, and she swore at those men until they left.

when we got back to my house, i just went upstairs and didn't say a word to my grandmother, who i knew would say "i told you so." she didn't mention that only about 25 minutes had passed. and i didn't think about taking a walk ever again.

so when i told my aunt this story, she said that the peeps bother her too, but never like that. and if we are together, it won't be bad. so we went, down the same road. and people were honking and hooting and hollering. i looked at her and said, "see?" so we went back and took a walk through town, where at least i know that the people are going to stare, and i can stare back at them, and act the part of the foreigner by taking pictures. i mean, if they are going to stare, i might as well give them something to look at, right?

maybe it's because i'm tall, maybe it's because i'm soooooooo beautiful (ha!), maybe they just know something i don't.

1 comment:

  1. This breaks my heart to read! As someone who's favorite activity it is to take long walks around Berkeley, it is hard for me to imagine being assaulted with that kind of judgement and alienation, merely for looking out of place. Especially when this is your place, or at least your family's. Thanks for such a vivid account. Oh! And on a brighter note, there is an Iranian family near my old place in Albany. They had a sour orange tree in front of their house, that would perfume the block when it was in bloom. I couldn't pass it without stealing a few blossoms to hold in my pocket. I wonder if it would make a good ice cream? -Brian