Authors: Marina Nemat
ALSO BY MARINA NEMAT
Prisoner of Tehran
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published 2010
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Copyright © Marina Nemat, 2010
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To Shahnoosh Behzadi
and Neda Agha-Soltan
Although this is a work of non-fiction, I have changed names and some details to protect the identity and privacy of individuals.
ineteen years after leaving Iran, I began to have recurring dreams about putting different items in a suitcase to take to the next world with me. I was getting ready for death.
In my waking life, I knew that I would like to wear a red dress to the grave and to keep my wedding ring on.
This book tells the story of every one of those dream items. Each object (sometimes paired with another) stands as the title of a chapter.
There are other things I would have liked to take to the next world with me. But during moments of anger, frustration, madness, or surprising sanity, I have given them away, thrown them out, or buried them.
Silver Jewellery Box
ook what you’ve done now! You’ve killed your mother!” my father said to me in Persian as paramedics carried my mother on a stretcher down the narrow flight of stairs in my suburban Toronto house on a cloudy day in October 1998. Standing in the tiny foyer with the front door wide open, I shivered in the cold wind that held the scent of winter, relieved that the paramedics didn’t speak our language. But one of them looked at me with questioning eyes, and I guessed that he had felt the anger in my father’s voice, as cutting as broken glass. My father was trying to place blame, as if finding a person responsible for my mother’s sudden illness would fix things and make her well.
The paramedics rushed my mother past me, and I caught a glimpse of her face. It was paler than usual, and the lines around her brown eyes seemed deeper. But there was more: her eyes were different; they were not as stern and condemning as they had always been. She looked like a defiant child who had been caught red-handed but didn’t regret what she had done, not even for a moment. I followed the paramedics and my parents out the door, and tears rolled down my face. I wiped them with the back of my hand. I was stronger than this. Yet here I was, a thirty-three-year-old woman, feeling as if I were eight again and back in Tehran.