After having read my brother’s descriptions of my mother’s dead face, I seriously contemplated suicide.
Since I did not have a peaceful life, I wanted a peaceful death.
I imagined poisoning myself quietly in my tidy room in Kensington. Then I wondered – quite regretfully – why I did not die when my sister informed me on Skype three months ago, when I fell on the floor and kept banging my head under the desk. Why didn’t I die of internal bleeding or a head injury or something like that?
My lovers, my friends, and my neighbours saved my life in London. They did not allow me to die. My conservative American neighbour, my German gay friend and my London gang. I went berserk. They tolerated and resurrected me.
Today, when I wistfully contemplated my suicide, and imagined the chicest and quietest death for myself in Kensington, and was just deciding on the best, most effective poison, I suddenly realised that my father would have to go and receive my corpse from the airport in Iran. After imagining that scene, I got up and took my vitamins and did my daily exercises. I stopped viewing suicide as a viable option.
A few hours later, I am in tears, on my bed. It is midnight, and for once in my life, I’m merely thinking about the loss of my mother – outside of our family structure. And I realise I did not mourn my mother in Tehran simply because I did not want to upset my father. This might sound ridiculous, but it made sense to me. This is exactly the length I would go in order not to upset my father. Because ten years ago, when I was a clueless teenager, he embraced me and said, ‘I can tolerate anything but your sadness.’
This is why I postponed visiting my mother’s grave as long as possible. I even said I wouldn’t attend her fortieth. I said I’d go to the cemetery in the summer… when I’m ready!
(Out of interest: is anyone ever ready to visit their mother’s grave?)
The night before, my dad mumbled he wanted me to be there on her fortieth.
I woke up early in the morning. I was hungover from a night of whiskey drinking with my brothers. In the car, we listened to Daft Punk. I banged my head as though I were in a discotheque in London. As though nothing had changed. As though I were still a hedonistic little girl, spoilt and fearless, ready to play and conquer.
For once, I appreciated and admired Tehran’s heavy traffic. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to be stuck in the middle of those aggressive streets forever.
We cracked hysterical jokes. I even made my younger brother laugh, which I considered an enormous victory. My older brother hadn’t said much since mum’s death. He’s seen it all. It all happened before his eyes. He says he doesn’t feel the need to ever get over it.
I was there on her fortieth. Nine in the morning, when the sun is a complete sadist in the cemetery.
My brothers disappeared, and my father took my arm, dragging me towards the right direction – my mother’s grave. A defeated commander trying to rescue his last soldier, but the soldier is fatally wounded. The battlefield smells like dried blood.
All eyes were on me. And for the first time in my life, I did not relish this.
People (our relatives) thought I would die. They called me numerous times, trying to be supportive,’You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. Don’t feel obliged to visit her grave.’ My uncles, my mother’s beloved brothers, had a row about me, as one accused the other of forcing me to go to the cemetery. I couldn’t take them seriously. I was so worried about my father’s loneliness and level of stress and blood sugar, that I couldn’t even hear their words, even when they were wailing in my face, ‘now you angelic creature, have become motherless!’ and when I was not worried about my father and everyone reassured me that he was all right, I was worried sick about my younger brother, as he is only twenty-five and his soul is as tender as a flower. And when he cries, I feel like burning down the universe to make him happy again, because he laughs like a child. I view him in the same light I see my niece and nephew. I adore them with a motherly love. I constantly worry about them. I feel terribly protective towards them. I believe in their greatness. And I am always ready to rescue them. And when I see them smile, I feel ecstatic. Now I am proud to announce that during this lovely trip back home, I did not shed even one tear in front of my father, my younger brother, and my niece and nephew.
I had decided not to even weep beside my mother’s grave. I held my chin up, although it felt as heavy as the earth.
My sister shouted at my father, ‘Why did you bring her here? she’s going to faint!’
I realised my body was shaking hard in my faux fur coat, in the mourning sun. And I didn’t even have enough energy to ask my sister not to scream at our dad, and it was entirely my own decision.
My mother’s grave is beside her nephew’s. Later on, when my eyes were capable of seeing, I realised my favourite aunt, my mother’s younger sister, was sitting at an angle with the best view to her sister’s and son’s graves. Sometimes murmuring Arabic prayers, sometimes, transfixed, sometimes shedding mad tears. Her face as dark as the soil. For the first time in my life, I envied her unshakable faith in God. And despite our strong bond, that day, we did not even look at each other. Not even once.
I strongly felt like throwing myself on my mother’s grave. I wanted to melt on her grave and become one entity with it. I wanted to smash myself against her grave until there was no distance between us. But I fought this insane urge, and I won.
I stood there, motionless, for a few seconds, highly alert that my father was standing beside me, believing in my love and strength. My glorious mother was now beneath the ground. How could it be possible? So much beauty, power, and knowledge! So much wisdom and energy! How could that little grave bear the enormity of her existence? So much love, life and passion!
This ruthless question still burns my mind every second of every day. No matter where I am and what I am doing. I could be studying, flirting, dancing, fucking, or sleeping. There is this sentence, in English, in my head, exploding, ‘How is it even possible?’
But to my father, I said, ‘okay, I saw it, let’s go.’ I am bleeding, but we have not lost the battle. I am wounded, but it does not matter, I am still capable of fighting. I will not break down. Because you are by my side. And I want to be by your side. No drama. No more bloodshed.
Then my dad took me for a walk in the cemetery. We stared at the other gravestones as though they mattered, or made any sense. He said, ‘she broke her promise; we made a pact that I should go first.’
I held him tight and heard myself saying, ‘If that had been the case, I would’ve killed her.’
He chuckled bitterly and my body stopped shivering.