May 2010

I have, like my mother, sister, brothers, and many other Iranian men and women, buried a lot of memories. But because I have an exceptionally good memory for details, I only bury them. I can’t completely suppress them, and being a writer, I wouldn’t want to.
As an immigrant, I have buried the first three, maybe four years that I began my American life. I buried them only because I was ashamed, then. Because I was close to nothing. Because my mother and father embarrassed me. Because the three of us together anywhere in public meant confusion, miscommunication, and sometimes followed by stares of strangers. I buried them because I felt inferior to my peers. I was the one who barely spoke English. The one who was so quiet, smart, but quiet.
My family, along with many others, have been through tougher times. Times that required them to not only bury, but suppress memories. Memories of war, prison, execution, revolution, protest, and many other bloody ordeals. These are the times that force suppression. Being an immigrant, compared to their pains, is almost incomparable.
A lot of times, feeling inadequate to their sufferings and troubles, I tried to make myself suffer in my own ways. I tried to live hard so that I could too try to feel their sorrows. I tried to really become significant in my own existence. I wrote and wrote and read and read and cried and began to suffer. But in the end, my mother was still a more troubled victim than an 11 year old who owed nothing to the world, but had only begun to take a lot from it.
To the 11 year old, the little troubles of adapting and changing and learning a new language, were hard, but with the promise of better things in a very near future. To a mother who had lived most of her life in pain, and raised four children, suffering was simply too great to reach.
Today, we, my family and I are trying to unwrap many of our buried memories. I am trying to go back to those years, write them out, even the most embarrassing memories that I thought I would forget but never did. I remember so well I can attach a face to each one, sometimes even a name. But the people whose names I remember will never know me because I was invisible then. So invisible I didn’t even see myself.
We are invisible no more. We, as a nation, as Iranian women and men will no longer be invisible. We may know how to suppress and bury memories, how to keep secrets, how to seal our lips, but we also know how to raise our voices when the time comes.

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