When you were little you were ashamed when I came to your school
November 27, 2002
I'm a sophomore majoring in creative writing and minoring in advertising
at University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I recently wrote a series of
monologues about being Iranian-American for my American literature class. I've submitted
one of them below. It's written by me, but from the point of view of the immigrant
mother who struggles with the cultural assimilation of the child she is speaking
to. If you want to know more about me, you can check out my
Americans. They don't understand our subtleties. You bring your friends here and
they wear their shoes in our home. I don't care if you wear your shoes when you go
there: they don't have rugs older than your grandmother under their feet at their
houses. It doesn't matter if I say, "Welcome, be comfortable." No one says,
"Take off your filthy shoes which you tracked in mud and dirt before you came
in my clean house, where I am going to feed you and serve you." These are things
that guests should know. They are rude to say.
You are becoming like them. I am worried about you. Don't argue with me. You are
becoming like them. Yesterday when I pointed out that kaseef girl by your
school, that dirty girl in the short skirt. She was dressed like a prostitute, but
you just said "Whatever, Mom." You think it is okay to stand at a corner
in a skirt like that?
And you think I don't understand you when you talk with your friends. I do. I speak
English too. Maybe I have a bad accent, an accent that embarrasses you, but I am
not stupid. I understand your words. But sometimes I do not understand their meaning.
When you were little you were ashamed when I came to your school and the teacher
said good things about you. I agreed and said, "She is my proud." I know
I said that wrong: you are my pride. But you blushed and said, "That's WRONG,
Mom." But you said it quietly, because you didn't want to embarrass me in front
of your teacher. You were my good girl.
I want you to be happy. Everything I do, it's for you. Before we came here, we lived
without thinking every minute if everything we said and did had meaning. Here I have
to explain to you that "khafesho" doesn't exactly mean "choke to death."
tried so hard. I even tried to help you join with your American friends in their
activities. I wanted the best for you. We went to their Girl Scouts and softball
and PTA meetings, but we only went once, and then you didn't want to go back. Why?
I was not like those women there; my English was not good, I know. But I was no less
than them. I loved my child as much as they did. It wasn't my fault if I didn't fit
in their dry culture. They didn't even smile at me. They didn't even say hello. When
Americans go abroad, they are treated like kings and queens. Not because they are
special, but because the rest of the world understands hospitality. Who are these
people who don't say hello when you go to their meetings? And then they look at you
funny when you try to show your child that you love her by being involved.
They looked at me like I was stupid, like you are looking at me now. But I wasn't.
I had a degree. I spoke three languages, and was learning English as a fourth. How
many languages did they speak?
Look at me when I talk to you, please. Do not turn your back on me. Ghorbunet beram,
azeezam: I would sacrifice myself for you, my dear. And I have.
Does this article have spelling or other mistakes? Tell
me to fix it.
do you want?
My desire is to have peace from my family
By Yasaman Rohani
Book of the day
Poems Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans
Edited by Persis M. Karim and Mohammad Mehdi Khorrami