“Stones in a New Garden” by Aphrodite Désirée Navab

As the Iran Air plane was landing in Tehran’s international airport, I began to tremble. Excitement mingled with fear, making my leg shake against my neighbor’s seat. “It has been 21 years,” I said, attempting to explain the trembling to my neighbor.

It was August 2001. I made my way through the airport, as if I had been there only a month before. I grabbed my suitcase from the conveyer belt and got in line. Once my passport was stamped, I stumbled out of the building, stunned by how easy and uneventful the arrival process was.

The past and present curled themselves into one corner of my mind. I was nine years old, wailing in unison with my three siblings. Each child clutched the other’s hand in a line with our mother. A shadow of paper cut-out figures moved along the airport’s floor. We kept looking back at our father, who was not allowed to go beyond the security checkpoint. He stared until his entire family disappeared. Two years later, after getting permission to seek medical care abroad for his heart failure, my father joined us. As a family, we never returned to Iran.

A slender woman in a red headscarf and brown raincoat, pulling me out of past rec- ollections, pushed her way through. As she got closer to me, a bigger and older version of my cousin Nooshin appeared:

“Désirée!”
“Nooshin!”
“Désirée!”
“Nooshin!”
We repeated and confirmed each other’s call, until recognition was complete. “Come. First, let’s take a taxi to my apartment and stay overnight. Tomorrow you can take a bus to Esfahan,” she said, slipping her arm through mine and forcing me to skip as we did when we were children.

 (Continued on page 13 of Love and Pomegranates)

About the Writer 

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Dr. Aphrodite Désirée Navab is an artist and writer of Iranian and Greek descent (born in Esfahan, Iran). She earned an Ed.D. in Art Education at Columbia University (2004), and a BA magna cum laude from Harvard College (1993). She is currently writing a novel, The Homeling. Visit her at: www.aphroditenavab.net.