Home is where the heart is

I left my home country of Iran and my parents who live there in 2014, and since then I have made it a priority to visit every year for a few weeks. This was perfectly manageable, whether during a one year MA degree course, financial strains, or times of political uncertainty, I made the trip back. The last time I visited was September 2019; I told my parents I would be getting married, and when they hugged me goodbye in the airport, somehow separating seemed less painful this time. I would be returning soon for a non-negotiable wedding party. I trust I don’t need to explain what happened next. This is the longest I’ve been away from my parents and the home I grew up in—my mom’s cooking and the smell of her hugs. My dad’s dad jokes and his reassuring smile.

It is what it is though, my life as an immigrant has always centred around reconciling the absence of a culture I feel deeply connected to and being away from loved ones, with professional aspirations. Most of the time it’s fine. But this year, the scales tipped in favour of homesickness. As the longing built-up inside me, I decided that if I couldn’t go to Iran, I would just have to bring more of Iran into my life in London. I bought every Persian ingredient I could get my hands on and turned them into familiar comfort food. I listened to music and instruments from various parts of Iran, from the haunting Kamancheh to the resonant voice of Mohammad Reza Shajarian, and when he passed I took the grief and turned it into what I know best, design. As I spoke with my sick Grandmother over video calls, I drew letters that said Grandma’s Home in a background of familiar Persian textile prints. When she recovered, I added colour and a play on the words to mimic a childhood show about the life of a Persian Mamanbozorg and her animal friends. I got inspired by Persian manuscripts and designed some manicules. Then I went a step further and did an entirely unusable backgammon board showing Khosrow and Shiring, the protagonists of a famous tragic romance by the Persian poet Nezāmi Ganjavi.

The aforementioned Khosrow and Shirin inspired backgammon board. Do not expect historic accuracy here. Or draughts and dice.

I look forward to being able to book a flight to Tehran soon, but in the meantime, I’ll be drawing up some cards for the Iranian New Year which happens mid-March, when we will celebrate the turn of the century. So happy year 2021 to all, and a very early happy 1400 to those who celebrate Nowruz.

Bette(r) Days celebrates the things that did not suck in 2020. Each day in December, we’ll be posting about the highlights of our collective garbage fire of a year, type-related or not.