Irrational homesickness

By Beeta Davoudi.

Homesick for a place that I have never called home. Not sure how or why because it is all quite nonsensical. But I still miss the dusty streets. The busy roads. The smell of cooking meat. Parks filled with families in the night. This place has never been my home and yet I miss it every day, as if I have known its red lips, its white skin, and its green hair.

Looking out the plane window, you could always see the huge ‘Z’ drawn with street lights, like the golden beads of a necklace, across the twinkling Tehran night. Stepping out of the plane to smell the gasoline in the warm air. Laughing and crying in the arms of aunts and uncles who, for years, were mere voices on the phone. These were moments that, when they came, I would clutch onto, so tightly that my nails would dig deeply into them, and as they passed by slowly I would still cling onto, so that they would pass a bit slower, so that their sweet taste could stay in my mouth a little longer, so that they would become a memory a little later.

Summer days passed with my face in front of the warm breeze from the air con of a 5 seater Peykan which was carrying the 9 of us. Looking out from the dusty window at the Alborz mountains which drew a brown horizon against the warm blue sky. Cutting into a cold watermelon, the crack of the hard skin, showing us a red as sweet as honey. Watching the Caspian Sea calmly rock back and forth. The red flesh of the watermelon spills onto the sky so it becomes purple as the sun begins to hide under the sea. Swinging back and forth on a tire hung under an apricot orchard tree. My brother shooting tin cans. The smell of charcoal dancing in a fire. These long summer days are engraved in my mind. They are the reason why I dance with my hands, take my tea red, and coordinate my breaths with the rhythm of the tide.

When I listen to Yaghmaei singing through my orange speakers, I look out my window onto the Mediterranean sea, and I smile at it because she looks so familiar; she shines clear white just like the Caspian Sea. But the zoolbia here just tastes different. The taarof could never be as intense. The tadig not as golden.

I still find it strange that I have such a strong inclination to be beside a sea which I have only known for a few days every couple of years. It makes little sense that I yearn for a soil which has touched my skin only in passing. I find it hard to understand that my lungs prefer the taste of an air which have long passed out of their system. It must be something as irrational as the air, the soil, and the sea, and its chemistry with my body, for I have no other explanation. It’s certain sights, smells, sounds which speak to the soul and which are transcribed directly onto the mind, in the form of a tattoo, beautiful, and intricate.

I’ve heard that the Alborz isn’t as powerful anymore; they took off the soil that used to sit on his head like a crown, and they made bricks with it. They told me that the Caspian doesn’t glow blue anymore; they made it muddy with waste. They say that you don’t see the purple as the sun sets, because she rises and sets from a grey cloud of pollution. I wish that I could see for myself. But most of all I hope that the yellow Z, sketched across Tehran, can still be seen before landing.

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