Her name is Bahar: it means spring. She brings rain on the burning fires and life to the dead souls. Her heart reflects her journey: it is beating strongly but is full of scars. Her heart does not look perfect: It has places where pieces have been removed and others put in which don’t fit quite right. You see, every scar represents a person to whom she has given love: she tears out a piece and gives it to whoever demands. Often people give pieces of their hearts to Bahar which fit into the empty places but because the pieces aren’t exact there are some rough edges. Sometimes she has given pieces of her heart away and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart. These are the empty spaces; giving love is taking a chance. Although these holes are painful, they stay open, reminding her that maybe someday someone may return and fill the space she has been waiting for. I, Maryam, have fixed myself the goal to accomplish such work throughout the life I have been given because of my mother, Bahar. Being a mother in itself is a heroic act, but I have been given one of the most courageous.
Bahar was extremely young when she got married. She soon became pregnant at the age of 17 and gave birth nine months later in a hospital in Isfahan where the means used were very “iron aged.” You have to understand that in Iran at that time hospitals were a little held back in terms of progress due to the rise of the Islamists. When my mother gave birth to me, she was very much likely to die because of the use of inappropriate and unsanitized tools. But praise the Almighty who saved my guardian angel to guide me through the hell that was going to strike us.
It was a very hot summer. Iraq was attacked by the US and we could hear the bombing from where we were vacationing. My father decided to take us to Behbahan to get away from the chaos. As he was driving over 150km/hr, our car crashed because of a group of young people who were driving irresponsibly. Of course my dad was way over the speed limit, once again. As of today, I can still picture each detail of our car spinning like an endless roller-coaster. A few minutes later, I heard my mother screaming: where are my babies; Babak what have you done again? With the grace of God, some people saw us on the road and came to our rescue. My sister was bleeding everywhere. My mother was holding her next to her heart screaming: if my baby dies, I die with her. Mana stayed in a coma for two days before she went through multiple plastic surgeries. After this car accident, my mother decided to never depend on my father anymore.
As my mother, sister and I moved to France with nothing, my mother became the father. She became a super-human. I still remember living in a tiny room with no kitchen. My mother would still try to cook whatever she could find so that the room never smelled like hunger. Some nights, she would tell us that she wasn’t hungry but we all knew that this was the fourth night in a row that she was saying that. Every day, we would walk for hours to get to the bus station which would then take us to our school for the non-french-speaker. Every single day my mother would repeat those words: Don’t be a sheep in a world filled with wolves. Fight for what’s right and belongs to you: your identity. My sister and I did not have all the nice clothes everybody else had, or even the birthday parties they used to throw every year, but we had a lion by our side which made us feel invincible. In the middle of the winter, Bahar taught us that we had the warmest summer inside of us.
A few years later, as we all learned French, life became more pleasant. My mother now was working full time. She would wake up every single day at four in the morning, cook until six and leave for work at seven. Even though my sister and I had to be home for very long hours, she would do her best so we didn’t feel as much pain.
When we moved back to the US with my father, my mother would come in between him and me and my sister, taking the pain and protecting her babies. You have to understand her path, she was forced into a marriage which she did not fully support and lived in a country where all laws favor the male. My mother has escaped hell twice and has saved her children every single day of her life.
Mom, I love you and I want to one day become a mother as awesome as you. Because of you, I have become this strong-willed young woman which cannot be stopped on her path to success. You have taught me independence, maybe a little too much. Although you still have these holes in your heart which are painful and are still open, I want to remind you I am willing to fill these for you. All I have belongs to you and all I work for has your name in it. Asheghetam mamai, je t`aime maman, I love you mommy joon.
Maryam Bighash is currently attending Wheaton College, studying International Relations and Communications (Rhetoric) in addition to a Journalism Certificate. She is a third culture kind as, “Home is wherever I lay my head at night.” She lived in France for eight years prior to moving to the U.S. in 2012. Constant traveling has allowed her to master more than three languages. She aspires to advocate for the truth through her talent of persuasion, with better immigration reforms being one of her goals! You can follow her on twitter and check out her blog.
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