My grandmother sorting out the meat.

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"Bah! Bah! Bah!", right cheek; left cheek; right cheek, followed by a hug. "Bah! Bah! Baaaaah!", right; left; right; another hug and a pat on the back. "Bah! BAAAAH!", right; left; right; centre; centre; centre. So many men and so much kissing; a ring of them, bursting from the exit of Tehran's undersized airport. I joined in, "Bah! Bah! Bah! Dear uncle, welcome back", I warmly greeted him; cautious of him going central. With the embraces done, our visitor stood circled; trapped by the airport crowd and ringed by gleaming faces. Again it came; round two: "Bah! Bah!", in an emotive, pirouette finale.

Before the airport exodus I'd dashed round to grandmother's to bum a lift with another uncle; "your eyes are bright", I exclaimed to my grandmother, stating a common phrase for such occasions - "your eyes are bright", she reply with an amused smile. She was sat at the dining table, labeling numerous lumps of meat spread across it, "Are you coming with us?", I asked; more out of politeness, as I already knew the answer, "no... I'm an old woman", she sought to remind me, as she incrementally slapped squares of paper on the fleshy mounds. "So you sacrificed a sheep for the occasion?", I added; stating the obvious, as I waited for the eventual, "Shall we go?", from my uncle who was now ready. "Your eyes are bright", I answered, "your eyes are bright", he responded with an amused smile.

Around a year and a half ago my uncle returned to America from Iran, concluding his lengthy stint back here. This was a sad occasion for me, especially considering I'd freshly arrived to live here. I gravitated towards him more than my other three uncles, simply because my weakness in Farsi, and his strength in English; yet there was more. Like me, he'd matured in a Western environment – mostly – and thus he became an important bridge for me to unite cultures. Of course, my father also performs this role, yet the objectivity, and dare I say; increased intellect, was a valuable thing to me. It was interesting for me to see that our common ground had increased, as my uncle – bless him – battled jet-lag and fatigue while we caught-up into the early hours of that first night.

Three sheep, I thought to myself; I was out of the country for 25 years, and the only thing killed for me was my curiosity

The following day I was privy to a second round of greetings; joining my uncle on a visit to Karaj. We arrived at the entrance of the family business where a crowd had gathered in anticipation; eager faces lowered to get a glimpse in the car as we rolled in. Among the crowd were some special guests; two sheep being held between labourer's legs – I think I tutted: can we not just buy icecreams? Three sheep, I thought to myself; I was out of the country for 25-years, and the only thing killed for me was my curiosity.

Another kiss ring ensued as hoofs flapped around in the background, "come and see, come and see!", my young brother yelped; taking our younger cousins by the hand. They met with a pool of blood coming just as fast in their direction, before decided to go do something else. As the kisses turned to questions, melon and tea arrived; blood was washed away and skin turned inside out - my eyes were still bright.

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