‘Bijan’ by Nahid Rachlin


From Guernica:

Bijan woke to the voice of the muezzin calling people to prayers, fell asleep, and woke again to his mother’s quiet voice in the living room. So often he heard her in his dreams. But this was real. He was in Tehran, in his mother’s house, with her just a room away. It had taken so many years and so much searching to track down his mother whom he had not seen since he was eight years old.

He pushed off the multicolored patchwork quilt and got out of bed. Out of the window he could see the Alburz Mountains surrounding Tehran and the fruit trees in the courtyard. On the mantle stood a photograph of his mother holding him. He must have been about six or seven years old, not long before his parents were divorced. She was looking at him with an expression of longing as if anticipating that she might be losing him. And then, his father, taking advantage of unfair family laws and corruption in the legal profession, had gained full control of him. He’d made sure Bijan never spent time with his mother and soon he moved his mosquito repellent business to Tabriz, far away from Tehran.

When Bijan was fourteen years old, his father sent him to boarding school in America, because he and his stepmother did not get along. Bijan knew that his mother remarried, but he had no knowledge of her new last name, nor her whereabouts. Finally, just months before his current visit to Iran, the mother of an Iranian friend he met in Palo Alto led him to his own mother.

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