My Mixed Feelings About Iran

1979 

She was a little black girl sitting in front of the television, watching the news with her mother.

Broadcasts would come on the television about Americans who had been taken hostage by a group of Iranian students. Every day, they would broadcast the number of days the hostages had been held. That little girl only knew one thing about Iranians, they were mean and they took her people.

A four-year-old, Iranian boy sat in his house, doing things four-year-old boys do. Unaware that world around him was surrounded by chaos. Or was he? What did he think of the Americans who hated him? Did he know about the Iranian hostage crisis? How did his young mind process that? Did he know he would one day live in America?

Dr. Shamsa and me at my UCLA graduationWhat these two did not know is that in 33 years they would be good friends. They didn’t know that that same four-year-old boy would save that nine-year-old girl’s life. They didn’t know he would be only one who would be able to save her. They didn’t know he would be there for her college graduation or that because of his generosity she would develop a bit of a crush on him.

 

2016

All grown up and on her own, that nine year old is now dating an Iranian man.  Yet that nine year old girl who was distrustful of all Iranian still raises her head whenever she hears about taking our naval officers or some other high profile story. It is gets complicated because the nine year old girl is always there whispering in her ear, but the man she thinks about, the man she is falling for, the man who can make her head swoon just by holding her hand is Iranian.

As her about her best date and it was with him, walking along the beach holding her hand, looking up at the stars and talking in the sand. She loved and accepted. It was absolutely perfect. She didn’t see a “terrorist” she saw the man she loved. She saw the man she wanted to be with. When he held her, it was perfect. When she was in the hospital and he had barely any gas, he came to see her. He stayed by her side and took on the staff on her behalf. When she needed him, he was there. So how could he possibly be the bad guy? She lit up when he was around. He was her hero, not the villain.

She didn’t actually go to her prom but ask her about it and she will tell the best prom date was when she was the time she spent with her Iranian life saver-her cardiologist who came to her UCLA graduation. Spending time with him,  speaking about their lives was more exciting and fantastic than any prom date she would had at 18. That nine year old was nowhere that night and that four year old boy was anxious to meet her sister, an event that didn’t take place.

13619938_10208853458485744_7044993032052646618_nAsk her about her best time studying for finals and she will tell you about her friend, Robert who is also Iranian. She and her walked with their arms around each other to get some food. He was much younger than her but she didn’t care, she was flying. They both were transfers, they both had sat on their prior student government, and they both found UCLA a little overwhelming but they were definitely dealing with it. And though he had a Jewish background, he was a Christian now and they would spend a lot time talking about Christ. That night after they had pulled and all-nighter at Powell Library, Robert took her and Adonai  (her son) to Subway. Subway is Adonai’s favorite restaurant.

Whether it was friendship, her best prom date ever or falling in love her life had been surrounded by Iran (though she still thinks they should go back to calling their country Persia, it is so much more beautiful). Her heart now belongs to Iran in a way she thought it never would. So how does she reconcile the two or does even try? She is an American, if there is one thing she knows is how to love a country without loving the government. She will just “Americanize” Iran, thereby she can love all the people who matter to her without necessarily loving their government. It is the American way, after all.

 

 

 

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