Saying My Heart
My mother, khoda biamorz, had her hands full with me. I was her loudest and most verbose child! She could never tell when I would start talking to strangers, guests, and neighbors, and just what I might say! I would talk to anyone about anything, something Iranian children, especially girls, were not really expected to do. I would ask questions and engage in all kinds of conversations with adults. Once warmed up (!), I would share my thoughts on any and all subjects, sometimes sharing family secrets to my mother's horror! I never forget her watchful and worried eyes when I entered a room full of guests, wondering what I might do and say now! No amount of advice (naseehat) or threats seemed to work on me. I had to say what I had to say and I wouldn't rest until I had said it! I remember I was a very thin and scrawny kid. When I was about seven, concerned with my thinness, my poor mother took me to the neighborhood doctor, Dr. Family (that really was his last name!). The doctor examined me and told my mother to make sure I ate nutritious foods and less candy and junk (haleh-hooleh). As he was describing a suitable menu for me, he mentioned that my mother should make sure I had honey with my breakfast. I turned to the doctor and said: "My mom serves all the honey in the house to my Dad!" As my poor mother seemed to be dying in her chair the good doctor said: "Well, yes, she should watch your father's nutrition, too, but I'm sure your father wouldn't mind sharing some of that honey with you!" For as long as she was alive she would tease me about those few words with Dr. Family! I remember one time I heard my aunt, khaleh, talking to my mom, telling her some problems her husband was experiencing in his business. I sat there and listened for a long time. I think I was about eight years of age at that time. My mom was listening to her sister's tale (dard-e-del), and saying some reassuring words, telling her sister that God would help her if she asked him for help. I think she had forgotten about me altogether when I started asking my aunt some questions about how she felt and whether she had talked about her fears with her husband. My mother became aware of my presence and immediately looked worried, probably remembering my history of blurting out anything that came to my mind! She said very nicely, "Nazy Jan. Can you go and call your sisters inside so that we can have lunch?" I said to her: "Maman Joon, can't you see your sister is in trouble? She is in pain and I need to stay here and help her solve her problems. You expect me to leave the room now? I'll tell you what Maman! Why don't you go get the other kids to come in and serve them lunch, because I have to stay here and help Khaleh Joon figure out what to do about her life!" My poor mother was pale with embarrassment! But instead of scolding me, she turned to her sister and said: "O.K. You can pick and choose! Would you rather I stay and give you advice or would you like Nazy to stay and give you advice?!!" My aunt said gently, "I would love to hear from both of you but for now, how about if I listen to Nazy to see what advice she has for me?" My sweet mother nodded her head and left the room. My aunt said: "Now, tell me Nazy Jan, what do you think I should do?" I don't remember much about the details of what the problem was or what I said, but I never forget the two women who were so respectful and loving to an eight-year-old girl who wanted to be a part of the conversation, somehow a part of the solution. All through my life, I have been respectful of children of any age. I think they should be heard, and they should be trusted to think and to approach life to the best of their ability. Children hold our future and our lives and our promises in their hands. If they are respected, they will learn to think and act responsibly. Where would our future be if our children are not trained to think and act appropriately? Children who learn to express themselves turn into better adults, I believe. To the two sisters sitting under a green leafy tree in heaven, I bow and send much respect and loving thoughts tonight. For the millionth time in my life, today I finally said what I had been thinking for a long time. The words that had had a hard time getting out of me finally found their way onto my lips and were uttered. I had to say them and I did. I am not afraid to appear silly, stupid, or out of line. I have never been. With the words and thoughts freed from my mind and my heart, I got to live and walk a little taller, with a little more self-respect today. I have spoken my mind. I have to believe in the old Iranian adage, what words come from the heart have no choice but to seat themselves in the heart.
هر سخن کز دل برآید لاجرم بر دل نشیند..... سعدی
Photo shows me at age 9 in our backyard.