My Childhood (From What I Know) – Part I: Immigrating

Before I begin, I ask anyone who stumbles upon this post (and blog in general) to please not judge me. I have lived in the states for most of my life. I am grateful for the decision my parents made to bring me here and believe they did it so we could have a better life. Furthermore, while I do not support the war, I am deeply humbled by the many men and women who have and are serving our country. It brings tears to my eyes almost daily to think of their sacrifices. And I sincerely appreciate all they do so people like myself can sit comfortably in my home, living a middle-class life, not worrying for my safety. I was brought up in a modern family with a modern state of mind when it comes to religion and politics. We are by no means the zealots that some of our people (particularly recently) have become known for. Comments are welcome as is constructive criticism. But I’d appreciate judgements kept to themselves. Thank you.

Also. I’m sorry, but posts that have to do with my family will probably be pretty long. I plan on writing several posts, more as a way for me to chronicle what I know, in an effort to piece together some semblance of my family history. You’re welcome to ignore this category in its entirety!

I don’t remember a great deal of my childhood. I have a few good memories, sure. Road trips and family get-togethers are highlights of my memories. But the warm fuzzies are few and far between.

I was born in 1982 in Tehran, Iran. My father worked for the shah as a high up government official. From what I’ve heard, he was the equivalent of a 4-star general, but as a civilian in the shah’s cabinet. My mother was a stay-at-home mom. I don’t think she ever finished high school. It’s difficult for me to get information like that out of my parents. Or maybe it’s just difficult for me to believe any information they give me, because I’m used to lies. My sisters went to school, did their chores, and played with the friends in the koocheh (neighborhood streets). With lots of family abound, they spent a significant amount of time with my cousins and distant relatives, something that I deeply envy.

I describe myself as a revolution baby – part of a generation during which many of our well educated, hard working parents were faced with difficult decisions and nights full of worry, as the revolution’s effects began to take grip on our country and family. From what I have been told over the years, my father’s life was threatened several times once the ayatollah took charge; standard procedure when it comes to a civilian with serious doubts about the legitimacy of the new regime. The presence of the secret police tightened around the lives of my mother and siblings as well, played out in being chased down the street when my sisters were walking home from school because a few wisps of my oldest sister’s bangs were showing under her head scarf, or because my middle sister decided to shoot a curious look at an officer.

I believe my father saw the shah’s faults as well, but under his reign, he had a fulfilling job, a nice home, food on the table, and enough wealth to go on vacations, entertain our friends and family, and live a comfortable life. What else could a father want?

So, my father found that he had no other choice but to leave the country. He sent my mother, my two sisters and a 9-month old on a “vacation” and devised a plan to cross the border in the dark of night, leaving EVERYTHING behind. We country hopped for a little over a year, finally settling in London where my father’s youngest brother of 5 was going to school. My father had been sent abroad many a time on business trips, even to America. I believe he was planning the move out of the country for years. I just don’t think it ended up being the way he wanted. Particularly the part where his family lived in his little brother’s two bedroom apartment until we found our own place. Talk about my uncle taking one for the team!

We moved a few times in London and I do have memories of living there, mainly of our apartments, the bedroom my sisters and I shared, the train that ran underneath our buliding, park outings and feeding squirrels, walking down the streets and learning to read. I think I loved it there.

When I was about 3, we moved to the US. I remember being at the airport. I think I even used to have a recurring dream about it. But the dream was always mixed in with a vision of my cousin back in Iran (whose face I only know from pictures) and a huge wall full of bubble gum just for me. So, I don’t think it’s too accurate. Honestly, I think most of my memories are really just stories I created around pictures in our photo album. I don’t remember much at all and I’m hoping that is normal.

Once in the states, we lived in a few apartments and somehow, my father’s sister and brothers began joining us in the country, as I remember seeing them pretty much weekly. I was the youngest of the cousins at the time, the next oldest being about 6 years older than me. Although, we loved each other dearly and because the next cousin up from him was about 6-7 years difference, we spent a significant amount of time together. The rest of the cousins were all about the same age, so my sister’s had a little more interaction with the family than I did. One sister seems to have a lot of negative memories about it. The other, nothing but good. They are very different people, my sisters, who deserve their own individual posts entirely. Although I think I’ll save their posts until after my separate posts about my mother and father are complete.

I’m actually looking forward to “putting it all on paper.”


11 thoughts on “My Childhood (From What I Know) – Part I: Immigrating

  1. I found your blog through the Post A Week challenge. I enjoyed reading your post about your family and how you emigrated to the States. I have read a few books written by people who lived (or still live) in Iran during the revolution, and there were echoes of their experiences in that of your own family. Keep writing – I look forward to reading it!

  2. Laila, I knew there was a mystery about you. : ) Great writing! And I too am looking forward to reading your story as it unfolds. I ache for you and your family. ❤ Peace, T.

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