I always loved my grandmother’s hands, the way her skin looks like wrinkled silk clinging to her body. I have photographs of her face, but I think they always make her seem much older than she seems to me. I would always see her looking out the window into our Southeastern Pennsylvania backyard, knowing how homesick she was for Mashad, Iran. Her homesickness was so severe that I think she also transferred it onto me somehow. My Momonbozorg would tell me so many stories that somehow seemed like fiction.
She told me that when it snowed, they would put fresh snow into a cup, pour saffron and honey over it, and then eat it. She told me that when her children were born, the midwife would pour rosewater over the babies after they were cleaned. The gold tea she drank to get rid of her anxiety. She told me about how she would make big meals for the poor in her neighborhood, and how she took in two Afghani women until they got back on their own feet. There were so many stories of kindness that some of them brought me to tears, because I don’t think I will ever get to see the world the way she does. Even though she is 93 years old, I think there’s something really full and rich in her eyes that I don’t see often in the eyes of others.
Today, on the 12th of April, I took her to the airport to go back to Iran. When I came back, I wanted to go into her room and ask her if she wanted me to make her some tea.
featured in romka # 8, 2013