Finding Home In Exile

HomesicknessI feel nauseous. Nauseous for home.

Very often I have been told that I am overly sensitive, that I feel things too much. Right now I feel so homesick, yet I do not feel I actually have a home. I was born and raised in England yet I feel my heart resides in a country far from here. A country of mountains, parks; of poetry; of history. I felt so strongly about this that I left everything I knew to follow a whim. In the end the whim turned out to be only a fantasy.

Similar to a lot of girls I often regard my childhood as that which was shared between the lap of my mother and father. Even in my early twenties, I would sit beside my father’s feet and listen to him share his childhood stories and wistful longing for his country. I fell in love with the Iran reflected in my father’s eyes. He used to tell me that I was more Iranian than Iranians and with his words echoing in my mind, I travelled to Iran with a rose-tinted belief that I would gather around me a career, family and like-minded people. Not only did I fail in this, I discovered that in Iran my Iranianness is held down by my Britishness in just the same way that in Britain my Britishness is held down by my Iranianness.

In my strive to please him, in my strive to get to know him, in my strive to understand him I have created my own prison. A prison to everything my father held dear. As I type these words I am watching an Iranian interview downloaded from the Internet, surrounded by people whose first language is not one I understand and one in which I speak with little confidence. I can not help but feel a pang of  pain at every syllable spoken that I don’t understand. I am still so hard on myself and convince myself I am a failure because I can not understand the singer on my screen rapping in Farsi; I can not join in the joke at the dinner table, neither can I answer questions about myself and my family but have to relinquish that right to my husband who with all due respects does not always know the answers.

I am nearly 32 years old and although I am now a mother myself I still agonise over whether my parents are proud of me and still strive for approval. As I was gently rocking my daughter to sleep tonight and whispering to her all about her Grandpa, I could not help but wonder what he thinks of me now. Whether despite my failure to speak his language he is remarking with delight like he used to, in his sweet language: “what a girl I have”, the exact words I now use.

I realise now that like the feeling of being in exile, this ache will never go away. But that is okay. It aches because I loved my father so much, I wanted to give him the world. It aches because of a sweet thing. It aches for love. The ache I feel will ensure that my daughter does not feel the same. It will ensure that one day she will be bilingual, she will be able to stand her own in both cultures and both languages.

In writing this post I have painstakingly sought for answers but there are none. Sometimes like life itself, things are not just black and white. There is some grey in between. Ultimately I am keeping a promise I made to my father a long time ago. I am keeping his culture alive. Although it hurts at times, I couldn’t help reflecting tonight how lucky I am. I get to enjoy the best of both worlds and that is what I will teach my daughter. My home is both in Iran and Britain. Through no fault of my father in teaching me of the beauty of Iran, he too made me homeless and created in me a longing for a country that no longer exists. But on the other hand, he has given me the tools, the words, the vision and even the memories to pass onto my daughter so that she too will see beyond the veil, beyond the demonstrations and beyond the slogans.


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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rubyslippers
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 19:27:48

    Don’t think of yourself as a failure, you are more a trier and giver. You went, you tried and you care that it didn’t work out how you hoped. It’s fine, don’t long for it, your children will be better off and happier with the path you have followed! X


  2. grandmac
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 20:07:12

    I am sure he is still saying those words.
    And I agree with ‘Rubyslippers’.


  3. alphabetgames
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 20:18:36

    Thank you both so much for your kind words. x


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