An Excerpt: The Street of Good Fortune

An excerpt from Author Maryam Manteghi’s memoir, The Street of Good Fortune

sarajevo

Though hair does grow back, ovaries do not. I didn’t cry when the surgeon told me I had cancer. Mostly because I was in shock but also perhaps deep down I somehow sensed not so much that I was sick, more that I was about to face a test unlike any I had before.

I didn’t cry when my boyfriend of five years, the younger Man-Boy I planned to marry, broke up with me over the phone the night before I started chemo.

I didn’t even cry when I realized that I was not going back to my Sarajevo, the only place in the world I’d ever felt truly at home, not for a very long time. I did cry, though, when Dr. Verma explained that the chemo I would receive might leave me unable to have children.

I fell into his arms and sobbed uncontrollably till I couldn’t breathe.

and Dr. Verma’s white coat had my bodily fluids all over it. He didn’t move until I stopped crying. My reaction, I think, surprised me more than anyone else. Suddenly, all the things that I had taken for granted would simply happen were being snatched away from me.

I suddenly felt like I was being punished for not having the foresight to plan a normal life.

An ordinary life that in a split second had become extraordinary. The same kind of life that I escaped when I left in 2002 on a one-way flight to Sarajevo. The same life that I was so relieved not to be living when I saw my friends tied to houses, children, nannies, minivans, and the mundane everydayness of suburban life.

Until now.

Punished for having made different choices than my peers. Punished for living a life where I never thought about mortgages and families and job security. Sitting there sobbing on Dr. Verma’s white lab coat, I wondered why I had never thought about those things.

How had I missed entire chunks of life that had occupied my friends during the last five years?

What was I doing when they were all getting engaged, buying houses and planning babies?

How was it that I had never, until this day, sitting in a Sunnybrook Hospital examination room in Toronto, seriously concerned myself with the business of family and children?

It wasn’t that I didn’t want children or a family, it was just that I always thought that marriage and children simply happened to people and that they would simply just happen to me too at some faraway point. And even though this thought was at the back of my mind. The front of my mind had always been occupied with more current events. Like today, or tomorrow or, at most, next week.

My immediate reaction was to blame my parents.

Why didn’t they tell me? Why didn’t they, like normal immigrant families, become alarmed when their only daughter wasn’t married at 30? Why didn’t they nag me about being grandparents or put out a public call to our substantial network of friends, family and acquaintances to drum up some suitable men? Where was the team of middle-aged women in my community whose job it was to make matches?

I mean I was an IRANIAN. Hello?

Matchmakers, setups, Yenta characters straight out of Fiddler on the Roof. How had I fallen through the cracks?

Check out Maryam’s book by clicking here!

Gender Inequality, by an Iranian American Female

In my Iranian-American family, there is a double standard. I have a younger brother who has been raised and treated rather differently from me. I love him but he gets away with things, I would’ve been buried for. Sometimes, this double standard exists because he’s younger. But sometimes it’s because he’s a male.

And I feel that to be an attack on my gender.

After growing up in a pretty traditional household and working in a male-dominated profession, I’ve picked up on some of the subtleties that create gender inequality. Gender roles are often reinforced by harmless words and attitudes, moreso than by laws and handbooks. The fact that my brother is never asked to wash a dish or set the table. The fact that women have to remain feminine and submissive at the office to be liked; because assertive and intimidating are qualities that are reserved for men. 

Inequality goes both ways.

My brother is expected to stunt his emotional growth and deny any feelings of fear or vulnerability. Men in the office often only express their dissatisfaction by shutting down or getting angry. While, as a woman, my emotional intelligence is emphasized and accounted for.

She cried because she’s a woman.” The statement is actually more liberating than discriminatory. Yes, my tear ducts are smaller than a man’s, and I will cry when I want. For men? If you cry, you better run for cover.

While inequality exists for both genders, I still believe that ‘male privilege’ is quite an oppressive factor that women face in today’s society. But as an Iranian-American woman, I’ve discovered that gender equality, to me, is a change of attitude and perspective. It is the acceptance that genders are different, but equal, and that none of the current gender roles rightly define what it is to be ‘male’ or ‘female’.

As a female, gender equality isn’t looking at a man and saying ‘me too! me too!’

It’s saying ‘I’m different but my differences do not make me worth any less’.

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xo,

SAAGHI ساقی

Riding Unicorns

I recently happened to watch the romantic comedy, Guess Who for the first time when the following scene ensued.

“Would you open your mind, Percy Jones? Dante is a metrosexual.”

“A what?”

“He’s a straight man with taste.”

“No such thing. You might as well tell me he rode over here on a unicorn.”

I suppose most people watching the film took the scene lightly. Yet it got me thinking:

how many times do we insult or comment on personality traits of other people using sexuality and gender references?

At some point, we have all partook or grown accustomed to some comment to a man exclaiming, “don’t be a little bitch” or “you’re a pussy.”

Worse still, I have heard women in conversation complain that their potential dates had been “too gay.” Nobody knows just exactly what that means, but most guesses usually include quite a delusional perception of how men and women should “naturally” act.

And so it is really important to consider the real meaning behind these comments. First of all, no decent woman should accept that her anatomy becomes a tool of insult.

Being a woman is NOT an insult. [Read more...]

In the Kitchen, Making A Sandwich

JOONIES.

Please tell me you still remember me, its been SO LONG. It’s like a three kiss-on-the-cheek Salaam instead of just two.

Can you believe the summer’s almost over? It feels like yesterday I was blogging about being dragged on vacay with the crazies.

Time flies, and I should know- it was my birthday last week. One year closer to TORSHIDEH&DESPARATE (according to my mother, I’m already there) but we had Holly cover all that, didnt we?

Anyway, so along the same lines of MIA-ness, I’ve also been MIA from the workout scene, a.k.a my downstairs gym. & one glance in a full-length mirror, I realized maybe I should rethink my recent nutritional guidelines. So I decided to head to the grocery store >> to buy ingredients >> to make food for myself.

Let me warn you:

The Kitchen and I have one of those really hot, messy love affairs. I never leave without some burns or cuts, and Kitchen’s always a mess when I leave.

[Read more...]

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