Given that I’ve not been blogging much, and that life is still pretty horrendous right now and not really worth writing about, I thought I’d get myself around to doing what I should have done way back in July: and that is, start writing up my Persian adventure! I don’t know how long it will take me to finish it, but I have to start somewhere and I want to feel I’ve started before 2010 is out! So here goes: come and attend my big, beautiful Persian Wedding!
It’s the 14th June 2010, and I don’t want to go. Seriously, I don’t want to go to Iran. I’m nervous, terrified in fact. My head hurts, and I’ve not slept for days! I don’t want to go! But why not? And where has this come from? I love Reza, I want to be with him alright, but weddings? Me and weddings don’t go together! I don’t feel ready, its not the right time! What if I get ill, what if I let him down, what if his family don’t like me, what if there is a visa problem and they send me back? What if my parents kick off: I’m so tired of thinking that I can’t sleep, can’t switch off and …, I don’t want to go! By the afternoon of the 14th, most of my packing is done, and on completing my salat, I fall down in prostration and dua for an undefined time. I don’t say much, but I remember just begging Allah (SWT) to help me. If this marriage is meant: let it happen, give me peace about it, and let it last: but if it is not meant to be, keep me in this cage, this familiar space of no where and things and dead ends that is better than the fear of the unknown, most of the time.
I reply to Emails, listen to the radio and tidy the house a bit. I eat a light dinner, and then Masooma comes over and we go to the supermarket to buy chocolate and finally take the pictures needed for our niqah documentation (the last official task on my to-do list!). I buy more migraine treatment, still terrified about how I’ll keep well and hide my chronic pain from my new in-laws should it appear!
I reach home, where Rizwana is waiting for me. She gives me a beautiful burnt orange salwar suit, and wishes me all the best, and then, I’m all alone, my last night before the big one! I’m so exhausted that I crash without question, rising around 7, to begin the rest of my life!
It’s the 15th June, I’m still terrified, but the familiar pleasure of travel adrenaline is beginning to set in. I listen to radio four’s, ‘a History of the world, thinking of how many out of the 100 objects I’ll miss when I’m gone: if only I could take radio 4 with me (I know that’s sad). I make last minute calls, pray 2 nafl for my journey, and by mid-day, I’m out of the house!
My flight to London runs smoothly and is perfectly on time! My only hold-ups caused by airport staff who are desperate to peak at my wedding dress!
At Heathrow, the assistance I booked shows up right on time for a change! Not that I’ve far to go and an issue with time! When I reach the waiting area though, I realise just how much time I’ve got: my flight has been delayed for 5 hours! Great! I call Reza and tell him: the only saving grace being that he and the family will get a better sleep! The assistance staff help me buy coffee and something to eat (I suddenly realise I’ve not really eaten all day!). In the waiting area the staff are friendly, all chat away to me and are fascinated by my Persian adventure! The Pakistani guys love my Urdu and the Somalis want to induct me in to their community as well: coolness! On the other side of the waiting room, I spot my first Iranian, she is an older woman: a wheelchair user. She seems funny and friendly, though is behaving oddly, at first I assume she’s just tired from way too much travelling, but as I observe further, it soon becomes apparent she is totally inebriated!! Her behaviour madly fluctuates between aggression to laughter and uncontrollable grief, and I pity the staff who are trying to deal with her. She curses me for my hijaab, and I quietly relay the story to Reza who is totally disgusted! We are delayed for yet another hour, and I don’t think we’ll ever go!! But we are moving to the gate now, and that’s a good sign! A group of 3 women are seated next to me, one of them is talking on the phone, clearly distressed, and soon crumples in to floods of shattering sobs. The other 2 women cradle her, trying to settle her. My broken Farsi leads me to understand that her mother has died, back in Iran, and she is travelling back for the funeral. My heart honestly breaks for this poor woman, I wish I knew enough Farsi to tell her how sorry I am, how I want to read qur’an for her mother, but I don’t have the language, and I’m possibly too overwhelmed to speak any way: how one person’s journey of a lifetime can be another’s hell on earth, is a reflection I never can forget! Finally, I’m on the plane, sitting by the window, and blocked in by 2 heavy set Iranian men! I don’t like this location, or the fact that the 2 men also appear to have downed a good amount of the black stuff, but hey! I’m finally on my way! I pray with all my heart as we leave the ground, and enjoy the liberating feelings of letting go, being free, being on my way! The British Midland staff were fantastic: helpful, talkative. I eat dinner, watch BBC world news and listen to some qur’an, between 2/3 short naps. The flight time passes much quicker than I expect! And now: we are here! Finally here, and my heart can’t really take it in. Contrary to what I expected in Iran, the assistance that showed up was wonderful! 3 of us needed assistance, and I was entrusted to a young Iranian Christian man named David. Despite the fact that I told him my Persian was terrible, he insisted on engaging with me in Farsi, but seemed happy enough that I understood the just of what he said, even though I answered back in English! We left the buss which delivered us to the main airport terminal, and rushed through customs via a VIP queue, where my passport was stamped, no questions asked! Mashallah! And all those months I spent fretting over letters and embassies and potential pitfalls, what did I know! We took a lift to baggage reclaim, and as we exited, I was shocked to find Reza waiting for me! I hugged him for a long moment, kissing his neck and drinking in his scent, before remembering I was standing, fully covered, with my not-yet-husband, in the Islamic Republic! Reza brushed it off though, and filled my arms with a beautiful fragrant arrangement of Mariam flowers! I was home, I had arrived: I was here! We stood in the gleaming airport terminal, quiet now in the hour before fajar prayer, despite my fast exit, my bags seemed to be the last to come out! After what seemed like an eternity, Reza was pushing my too-heavy bag, while I branded my dress in 1 hand, and my flowers in another. I gestured wildly in the direction of the glass windows, beyond which stood my parents-in-law, sister-in-law and her 2 beautiful daughters. I took a deep breath as we stepped off the escalator: this was it!
(read the rest in part 2)