We had an amazing lego collection, when we were kids, growing up in a middle-class suburb close to Mehrabad. Our father wanted us all to be engineers, and to that end, whenever he travelled overseas, he would bring us back fabulous colourful boxes of Lego, the likes of which no other child in the neighbourhood or in our family had ever seen. Not that they didn’t have fathers or families who travelled and brought back gifts- Iranians are famous for their love of kharej and the amazing things you can buy there. But I suppose none of them had fathers who were as much enamoured of engineering and lego as ours, and so they would receive barbie dolls, fancy pencil cases and toy cars. I received barbie dolls too, and played with them, but I also spent many hours playing with the lego sets which were ostensibly for my brother, but in actual fact housed and jealously guarded in my room.
The Golden Boy asked me a few days ago what kinds of lego we had when we were little. The answer was so long and complicated that he lost interest and wandered off, and so, it falls to you, Gentle reader, to listen and yearn.
I do believe the prize of our collection was the train set brought from Germany (Hassan, you may disagree if you wish, as you often do). We built the tracks, choosing either a circle or an oval, and there was a bright blue wagon which was fitted with chunky thick batteries. We built the other wagons, hooked them up with cute little magnets, and set them off on the track. I feel there must be something more, for how could something so simple, as I write it, be the source of such childhood delight? But no, that’s all there was to it.
There was a house set, which had instructions for building all sorts of beautiful houses on a wide square green piece. Flowers. A lovely little red bicycle with soft black rubber tires. And as we stepped into our early teens, our father amped up the engineering pressure and bought us the “pneumatics”- incredibly complicated sets equipped with small pumps, stimulating the real life movement of cranes, trucks and construction devices. The instructions ran to the hundreds, but we built them all: me, my brother and my father. I think, to be honest, I did most of the building though.
I can remember the last set my brother received, I must have been going on sixteen and had lost interest. It was a fire engine set, and by then, I was attending high school in Leeds, preparing for university. I still made it, mildly amused by the small flashing lights, but I don’t remember “playing” with it anymore, as we used to.
Now, I crouch over the small perfect pieces, busily building for my son and my own pleasure, feeding my nostalgia. But the sets he chooses to buy are fantastical, they bear no resemblance to anything in real life, as ours did, when we were little. Ninjago fighting machines, Star Wars weapon huts. He doesn’t sit by me either, he demands that I build, yanking me out of bed at 7:30 on weekend morning, but he enjoys it because of the dedicated attention I am paying to his toys, and by extension, to him. He has little interest in the elaborate constructs I build, and does little building himself, preferring mostly to play with the small figures, knocking them against each other making “click click koosh koosh argh” sounds to stimulate the fighting noises.
Poor thing, he thinks I am building them for him, for his sake. My poor father, spending precious dollars buying lego in the hope of training future engineers to serve and build the country to which he has dedicated his life. Poor me. Poor Hassan.