“I miss the Princess so much, I hug the pillows tightly imagining that it’s her…” yelled my mother into the computer, during our first conversation of the Iranian new year.
Gentle Reader, I ask you, how am I suppose to react to this? Am I supposed to howl in misery and guilt, empty my meagre bank account, tuck a child under each arm, and go galloping off to Iran? Where, incidentally, I would have to spend most days alone with the kids waiting for people to come home, as both my parents hold full-time jobs, my only remaining sibling there is a full-time student, and people are generally busy with their incredibly active professional/social/family lives.
“At least you have your family there around you” I yell back. “Your brothers, sisters, mother…what about me, ALL ALONE IN THIS CITY, with only my two children- how do you think I feel?” But my mother will not be derailed from her mission of making me feel as bad as possible about my decision to live all alone in Halifax “So? everyone has their own place in my heart, a brother can’t make up for for a child, a grandchild…” “But at least you have that!” I cannot say more, I cannot elaborate on the set of circumstances which led us to Halifax, I cannot remind her of her complete un-supportiveness during my own times of trouble, I refuse to go over the reasons why I would prefer my children not to grow up in Iran. She has her own defences anyway. It’s not like she would listen and agree. Every word she utters has a not-so-hidden agenda behind it: Iran is as good as khaarej, if not better, and those who immigrate are idiots, brain-washed, traitors, decadent, unfeeling, uncaring, selfish, in love with the West, full of self-hatred, hateful, cruel, inflicting needless suffering on themselves and their loved ones. Never mind that she herself spent her twenties and thirties in the UK. Twenty years or so ago, she decided the only thing she wanted in life was to live close by her mother and siblings, and anybody who refuses to do the same is all of things I listed above.
Mothers guilt-tripping their children about their life choices is the stuff of comedies, the Jewish mom of Philip Roth’s hilarious novels, Rachel’s mom in Friends, Sophia and Dorothy in Golden Girls. I don’t see what is so funny about it, myself. There is nothing funny about it. It is a deadly serious business.