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Diaspora

Born suspect
Once the border guard looks at my passport

By Afsaneh Bahrami
September 22, 2003
The Iranian

I think, I may have been born fifty or sixty years too late. After SARS, Toronto knows what it means to suffer bad press. For the last six thousand years, women have also suffered bad press. If you don't believe me, check the bible, starting from page 2.

Fifty years ago, traveling across the border into the United States would have been something different altogether.

At the border, the guard checks my passport; under Country of Birth he reads Persia. He gives me the once over before pressing a little button hidden beneath his desk. Immediately, a small trap door slides open and a red carpet designed to cushion my footsteps, unfurls before me. He smiles and waves me through the metal detector. On the other side, a bevy of laughing guards in straw skirts shower me with sweets and bonbons. It could have happened.

As it stands, I'm suspect by birth. Once the border guard looks at my passport and reads Country of Birth: Islamic Republic of Iran. The situation grows bizarre.

STAMP! STAMP!

No, officer, don't stamp my passport. I'm innocent. No not my passport photo. I love that picture of me! I was gonna blow it up! Oops! I mean enlarge. I was going to enlarge the photograph.

Now that you mention it. I do see a striking resemblance.

What a rip. Born fifty years too late. I've had enough! Officer give me back my passport. I have to correct something.

It's my identity, I can change it if I want to!

Give me my passport. You want proof of my nationality? Check this out. It's a map. See that little dot, that's where I was born. Read the name going across that whole area. Sumeria, that's right. I'm from Sumeria. I don't give a crap about the date. I'm Sumerian. Let me pass.

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