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Authors: Marina Nemat

After Tehran

BOOK: After Tehran
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AFTER
TEHRAN

ALSO BY MARINA NEMAT

Prisoner of Tehran

Marina
Nemat

VIKING CANADA

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Canada Inc.)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,

Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published 2010

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (RRD)

Copyright © Marina Nemat, 2010

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Manufactured in the U.S.A.

ISBN: 978-0-670-06462-5

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication data available upon request to the publisher.

Visit the Penguin Group (Canada) website at
www.penguin.ca

Special and corporate bulk purchase rates available; please see
www.penguin.ca/corporatesales
or call 1-800-810-3104, ext. 2477 or 2474

To Shahnoosh Behzadi
and Neda Agha-Soltan

Author’s Note

Although this is a work of non-fiction, I have changed names and some details to protect the identity and privacy of individuals.

N
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.

My Grandmother’s Silver Jewellery Box

Ed’s Receipt

My Mother’s Crocheted Tablecloth

Chocolate-Chip Cookies

The
Sunday Star

Rachel’s Letter

A Sound Recorder and a Microphone

The List of Names

Shaadi’s Card

A Persian Poem in the Russian Alphabet

A Persian Song Named
Soltan-eh Ghalbha
(King of Hearts)

Fatelessness
and
The Diary of Anne Frank

My Dragonfly Brooch

Photos of My Children

My Canadian Passport

My Rosary

A Star-Shaped Christmas Cookie

A Jar of Folic-Acid Supplements

My Happy-Daisy Slippers and a Broken Umbrella

A Dream Catcher

Jasmine’s Poem about the Night Sky

Letters from My Cellmates, and My Barbie Doll

An Elastic Band for Making a Ponytail

My Grandmother’s
Silver Jewellery Box

“L
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.

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