Mehrabad airport is crowded. Everybody seems in a rush to leave Iran. The air is dry. It’s the end of September, but the heat belongs to July.
I push my valise on the floor, over the remaining pile of yesterday’s newspapers. A few pages are dragged with my suitcase. I stop pushing. I’m too tired.
As the sweat runs over my forehead, I remember the exact moment when the three Pasdars raided the house last night. I wipe the sweat and wish I could wipe the tears off my mother’s face as she stood there at the center of the living room with all the eyes set on her. My mother, the woman who knows how to hide behind a serene smile, even when there’s a thunderstorm blowing her mind away.
It was nothing but an ordinary family gathering, I say to myself. Just a simple goodbye party! I push the suitcase full of my winter and summer clothes and my books. Full of dictionaries; French to Persian and Persian to French. Full of dried fruit and pistachios that Father bought me yesterday.
I kick my valise. I wish I could kick the men who made Mother weep and who made Father forget his pride. I picture him begging them to let me go. “She has a flight to catch,” Father said. I kick harder my valise that’s full of my future.
Nothing moves. I’m tempted to sit on the floor and to sob the way Father did, the way Mother did, the way I should have done, but I didn’t. I’m tempted to give up.
I had never seen Mother being so loud. I had never seen Father being so little. We had never embraced each other so tight, being so close, still so far.
All the travelers around me are waving at someone behind us. I don’t need to turn. What if I turn and I find there’s no one there waving at me?
I turn back.
The airport is crowded. All the faces look at me and smile. All those strangers wave at me.
I close my eyes, raising my arm in air.
In an effortless moment, I catch a last glimpse of my parents, both behind the airport’s large window. Mother in her green raincoat and Father, all in black. It’s summer. It’s a hot day, but the way they move, the way they touch the glass, as if they’re standing in the rain. As if their gaze has already reached the approaching winter. As if I’m already gone.
Feeling alone, I open my eyes and smile, waving at my own absence.
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