When the first Iraqi bombs were dropped on Tehran, it was so unexpected that I thought I was hearing the sound of thunder and lightning. It wasn’t until Mum came rushing into my room that I realised there was something wrong. But by then the planes had left and all that we could hear was the crack of anti-aircraft fire. The sound of the bombs had been faint and far away, somewhere downtown perhaps.
Dad says there is no need for taking shelter and I am happy because I don’t like to be buried under the rubble. ‘This is nothing’ He says, ‘You know in Second World War, when Nazis bombed London, that was proper bombing. This is nothing compared to that. Two or three flimsy planes dropping four, five or six bombs a night, what is that in a city the size of Tehran? We have a much higher chance of getting run over by a car than being hit by a bomb.’
Hearing my dad say this always makes me happy. It means that there is nothing to worry about, although it does make me feel a little sad too. Those British are better than us in every way it seems; we can’t even get ourselves bombed properly!
At nights, when Dad and I can’t be bothered to get out of bed, Mum runs between their bedroom and mine a few times (not knowing which room to stay in) until the attack is over.
‘You are very lazy,’ she says standing by my bed barefoot and shivering, with her thick shiny hair resting on her shoulders, ‘can’t you just get out of bed for two minutes?’ I invite her into my bed and we tickle each other and giggle until the green alert comes on.
Sometimes I go and sit with her on their bed, with my dad (keeping his eyes firmly shut because he doesn’t want to wake up fully) saying, ‘Don’t be silly you two, go back to bed. It’s just like an injection; finished as soon as it starts.’ I say, ‘Unless it’s a Penicillin injection in which case the pain stays on for two days after.’ And he starts laughing with his eyes still kept shut.
Some nights, I don’t even wake up. I sleep all through the sirens, the bombs and the antiaircraft fire. In the morning Mum says, ‘How on earth can you not wake up with bombs dropping all around you? Did you not hear it at all?’
‘Not a thing.’ I say biting into my fresh bread smeared with ration butter and cheese, ‘Was it a bad one?’
‘No not especially,’ she replies sipping her sweet black tea, wiggling her toes in front of the oil heater, ‘only four bombs maybe. It’s hard to tell with all the noise that the antiaircraft missiles make.’