Sunday, January 15, 2006

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.’


GazanKhan said...

You have a lovely family Shirin, I envy you in a good way though, I bet your people are proud of you.
By the way today I found out why suddenly my blog appeared so small. For some unknown reason my text size that was always large had become small! now that I clicked on large again my characters seems huge as Dear shadi told me. From now on it'll be normal again. unfortunately I found this out after I post this morning. I guess I talked too much my dear, sorry for that.

pishik said...

hi Shirin,
I like reading your stories because eventhough i have lived a very similar life, the way you write them makes the reader interested. I am going to ask you something that my friends ask me frequently. Have you though of writing a short book about your experiences as a child? Or just a collection of these enteries? I bet many people would like to read it.


Em said...

Hi Shirin

Thank you for this post.I have never experienced war and I hope I never will.

Through this post I can see how resilient the human spirit is.Im glad that you took your experience positively...

. said...

I should send a post on M a z e just about you, oh yes, I would. Your command on English langauge is superb, and you make it look deceptively easy. I liked proper bombing and your Mum's concluding complaint.

Shirin said...

Hi Gazankhan, Yes, cleverly spotted; my family is lovely :-) And thank you very much for letting me know about your blog’s latest goings-on as usual. I will file this with the rest of your complaints down at the Blog Police HQ ;-)

Hi Phishik and thanks for being so nice about my writing. Yes I would love to able to publish something some day but the problem with the kinds of things that I write is that they might be ok for posting on a blog but I really don’t think any publisher would want to risk putting good money into publishing things like this. If I’d been someone important, then maybe they would be interested but not being anybody special, to them I’m just another thirty year old that fancies herself as a bit of a writer. To make matters worse, my English isn’t really that great either because I’ve never ever studied English in my life and all that I know is what I’ve learnt from living here and talking to people and watching movies and reading books and things like that. Simple writing could be appealing on a short post maybe but I don’t know if a whole book of it could still keep the reader interested or not. Anyway how about you then? Are you going to write your story?

Hi Em, I too am glad that I took this experience positively. I’m sure it would all have been a lot different now if a bomb had actually landed on our house (or someone close to us) at that time, but fortunately we were lucky enough not to have to go through anything like that.

Behrooz, you really must stop praising me like that before my head gets too big and god forbid, explodes
;-) As I said above (to Pishik) as well, the only reason my writing is so straightforward, is that I simply don’t know any better.

AA said...

I love the illustration you did for the last post. Have you read the persepolis by Marjane Satrapi:
You should start working on your Graphic Novel!

Foulla said...

Shirine,I feel the way i did when i red Azar Nafissi describing the Iran-Irazq war in her "reading lolitta in tehran".the way u write is really nice,and thank u for sharing u're" souvenirs" with us..i like the image of u having breakfest while u're mom is wiggling her toes in front of the oil heater
it's so homey.
silly u when u say (Those British are better than us in every way it seems; we can’t even get ourselves bombed properly!
.made me smile.)

Bobby said...

Wow. I can't imagine how scared I would be in a situation like that. You are so brave!

amanda kay said...

shirin dear what everyone else says about your writing is absolutely true, unless what they are saying is bad in any way and in that case they are just drunk.

and i'm not going to say it again. you know what i am thinking. and i would read it over and over.

Dodo said...

I wonder if they ever hit any of the planes, we not only had to get out of bed we had to run into the specially made basement but then again that was in Kermanshah so it was a smaller city.

Dr O2 said...

ah those nightmarous nights :-S I lost a friend in the random bombings :-S he used to sit behind me in our class...

. said...

I am no great expert in English, yet I am not just being complimentary, I mean it. I too was thinking about Satrapi's Perspolis, though I disagree with much of the content, it is too selective and far from representative, though it repeatedly poses as such.

jarvenpa said...

You are a good writer (this in response to your response doubting this). Publishers are mysterious beings, but I would think there would be great interest in a book of your musings and experience. You have the gift of including precise details, of being real and vivid.
And heartbreaking. I hate to think of anyone living through bombings--and I know many have, and do, and will.

Shirin said...

Thanks AA :-) Yes I know that book. A friend bought it for me but then someone else borrowed it before I had a chance to read it all. I must take it back and read it properly.

Foulla, I liked reading Lolita in Tehran as well. It’s nice to know I made you smile :-)

Hi Bobby :-) I don’t think we were brave or anything like that. It was more a case of; we were in that situation at the time and had to live with it somehow. I’m sure you would have been the same. The thing is anything can become the norm after a while, even being bombed!

What are you saying akg? The drunk won’t enjoy my writing? So that’s my holding my book tour in pubs around the country idea, out of the window then. My next choice was Mc Donald’s, what do you think?

I always wondered about that as well Dodo. You always heard rumours that planes had been hit but no one ever knew for sure.

Aah that’s awful Dr O2 :-( How sad.

Hi Behsol, I guess I must go and read that book to understand exactly what you mean about it being selective but I think I know what you’re talking about anyway; I’ve read a few memoirs by Iranians and they’ve all had a few annoying things in them.

Thanks a lot Jarvenpa. You are too kind and you’re right, publishers are mysterious beings :-)