Silence weighs me down the way my father’s absence did when I was eight and terrified of a suddenly unstable home. Silence weighs me down the way my father’s empty chair did, and the short, distant, broken phone calls we made across seas. My father left Tehran for the States not only to heal his physically ill body, but to escape a country whose bloodshed had wounded him so deep he didn’t, couldn’t imagine his children continuing to live there. Upon a visit to Tehran, his lungs could not manage to sustain the polluted air that everyone else breathed day and night. Silence weighs me down recalling the night of his second departure where I stayed up all night crying, praying to a God that existed then.
Silence weighs me down the way third grade did when we wrote essays in our quiet classroom, and the moments after daily prayer where I could hear everyone breathing-in the somber, heavy air. I recall the cold winter mornings when I walked alone to school, my stomach in knots, dreading the awful silent walls of the classroom.
Silence weighed me down all throughout childhood when no one in my family explained why every cousin had a prison story to tell, why my mother appeared so nonchalant after having lost three siblings to the brutal bullets of Iran’s dictators. Or why she couldn’t remember most of what happened to her during her five years of imprisonment. No one spoke about the dead, no one reminisced. Silence weighed me down in such a censored world where we were taught to not trust, to not express, to not remember the past.
Silence weighs me down now as an adult, when old friends disappear without cause, when lovers run away with fear, when my mother hesitates to tell me someone has passed away.
So I break this silence with my words, for I do not wish to be weighed down any longer.

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