It is dawning on me in a deeper way that I am not safe here. My husband cannot keep me safe. He comes from a place I do not understand, cannot know. It is becoming clear there is a part of me that is “on my own”—-separate from a husband I thought I knew, could understand. I thought we are alike more than different. The opposite seems true. I spend more and more time in our rooms “resting” just to be away from this foreignness.
When I’m alone I have more time to think, so that’s what I do. Think and think and think! I am beginning to feel betrayed by my husband. He might have gotten arrested no matter what, since his name was already on a list, but Savak likely wouldn’t have kept him as long as they did had he not brought anti-Shaw literature in our luggage. He was naive and wouldn’t listen to me prior to flying. I tried to convince him it could be risky. He brushed it off. Angry? I am free to feel angry now. At him! A kind of fury is seeping inside me, like water looking for a low spot that keeps dribbling into an ever deeper pool.
I am not trusting my husband’s judgment on all kinds of things. He himself is suspect to me now. It is not a question of love. I sure still love him, desperately even, but a new reality is feeding an expansion of my own will, a sort of separation, part of a couple yet not a couple, like a limb tearing. Oddly, I can be in the same room with him yet feel like he’s very far away, an unknown commodity. Or is it me? I’m very far away. Marooned.
My husband has gotten ill. Dysentery. His dad sends for a doctor who comes to the house. He is very dehydrated so the doctor orders an IV. Remarkably, my husband remains in the living room, on the floor like everyone else with tubing in his arm to pump fluid into it. He seems to be recovering before our very eyes. One of his brothers has also gotten sick. Probably something eaten from a vendor on the street. No wonder! He recovers quickly though with only rest. My husband takes longer to get well but it still doesn’t take a long time. Quicker than when I was at my most extreme from the food.
After a few days, my husband is recovered now from whatever made him ill. His dad decides we should get married by a Moslem priest, so our union can be blessed, legitimate. I begin to see all of his family more and more foreign. I am so very far away from them culturally. A moslem wedding I know nothing about, do not understand? I don’t really want to do this wedding business but part of me thinks “what the heck, I won’t know a word of it anyway.”
LOST IN TRANSLATION
The priest comes the next evening. We all sit on the floor like this is an ordinary activity but the mood is different. Everyone has a serious look on their face except one of my husband’s brothers. He sits removed and behind the priest a bit. He starts making funny faces at me, mimicking the priest but in an exaggerated way. It’s all I can do to not burst out laughing! Even though I can’t take this event seriously, it would be scandalous and rude to laugh. Oh God, won’t this ever end? At least all I have to do is act chaste, serious myself. How hard is that?
The following day we pack for the trip back to Tehran and home. My home! I can’t wait to get out of this country! I have never in my life felt so insignificant and small, as if something too long in a dryer has shrunk to half its original size from too much heat! At least it won’t take as long to get back to the capital since we will fly instead of taking the train. While the slower journey through the countryside was interesting, it took much longer. At least there’s speed with a plane.
Once at the Ahvaz airport it is hot, incredibly hot. Like Mehrabad Airport, most of the terminal is open-aired. We finally front up from the tediously long line to go through security. My father-in-law has bought us first class tickets so there’s a small mercy to look forward to since I’ve never had the pleasure of my anticipated comfort.
We finally arrive at the endpoint for a final check before boarding. There are separate queues for men and women, which strikes me as odd. It becomes clear why, however, once I become first in line. The female officer frisks the woman in front of me, patting her down. Next, me! She goes through the same procedure from my neck, shoulders, breasts, waist-front and back, groin area and thighs. I don’t feel violated as much as I feel like a presumed suspect of sorts. It is chilling. Vulnerability writ large.