Since April 2008, when I settled with my family in Halifax, I visited my home country, Iran (in case you’d forgotten) four times. Christmas 2009, summer 2010, christmas 2011 and summer 2012. Each time, Tehran seemed a little more ruined, a little more dusty, a little more smoke-filled, a little more noisy than before. A bit more aggressive, a tad more hostile.
It was only recently though, only a few weeks ago that I was able to clearly articulate, in conversation, that I actually don’t like Tehran. It’s not that I love Canada, or Halifax, or Dalhousie, I simply don’t like Tehran. Call it the government, the people, the religion, the culture, the traditions, the combination of all these, I simply don’t like my city of birth, and I wish never to live there, ever again, even though I may have to.
If only the Gentle Reader could appreciate how liberating it is for me to utter these treason-filled words! For the myth that all Iranians subscribe to, no matter where they live and no matter how many years have passed since they set foot in Iran, is that we love the motherland. We all shout it fervently- we love Iran, yes, we hate the government, we’re not religious, hell no, we’re atheists, we’re drunk every night, we blaspheme every Friday, we dance naked in the streets, we spit on religion, but Iran, no. Iran we love. Iran is something else. Alas for Iran, devastated by the government, racked by fanatics! If it hadn’t been for the revolution and the mullahs, our wonderful land would have been paradise on earth. A warm Norway. A friendly Sweden. Amazing food! Amazing art! Brilliant people! Amazing! Fantastic!
Whatever. Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t. I don’t know, and I don’t care. All I know that in its present shape and form, I find Tehran (and I won’t speak to all of Iran, but how could it be better?) to be an unpleasant, wracked place, and if it hadn’t been for the inconvenient fact that my parents live there and won’t budge, I would gladly never ever go there again. As it is, I know that come a few months or more, I’ll have to gather up my suitcases, my dollars and my children, and fly 24 hours round the globe to visit them, as our yearning for each other grows too strong to bear. But if they move, say, to Istanbul or Bangkok, I would joyfully visit them there, and never set foot in the cursed land of my ancestors, ever again.