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Veil of Rosesby Laura Fitzgerald
Synopses & Reviews
As I walk past the playground on my way to downtown Tucson, I overhear two girls teasing a third: Jake and Ella sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage
Curious, I stop mid-stride and turn my attention to Ella, the redheaded girl getting teased. She looks forward to falling in love; I can see it by the coyness in the smile on her freckled nine-year-old face. I shake my head in wonder, in openmouthed awe. I think, as I so often do: This would never happen in Iran.
None of it. Nine-year-old girls in Iran do not shout gleefully on playgrounds, in public view of passersby. They do not draw attention to themselves; they do not go to school with boys. They do not swing their long red hair and expect with Ella's certainty that romantic love is in their future. And they do not, not, not sing of sitting in trees with boys, kissing, and producing babies. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is nothing innocent about a moment such as this.
And so I quickly lift the Pentax K1000 that hangs from my neck and snap a series of pictures. This is what I hope to capture with my long-range lens: Front teeth only half grown in. Ponytails. Bony knees. Plaid skirts, short plaid skirts. That neon-pink Band-Aid on Ella's bare arm. I blur out the boys in the background and keep my focus only on these girls and the way their white socks fold down to their ankles. The easiness of their smiles. They are so unburdened, these girls, so fortunate as to take their good fortune for granted.
Ella sees me taking pictures and nudges the others, so I lower my camera, wave to them, and give them my biggest, best pretty-lady smile, one I know from experience causes people to smile back. And sure enough, they do. I wave one last time and then I walk on. I am changed already, from just this little moment. These fearless girls have entranced me, and I know that when I study my photographs of these recess girls, I will look for clues as to what sort of women they will become.
I hope they find romantic love. And passionate kisses, and men who look at them with eyes that see all the way into their souls. Then I know they will be happy, and I know they will be whole.
First comes love, then comes marriage. A childhood chant, a cultural expectation. Americans believe in falling in love with every fiber of their being. They believe it is their birthright; certainly, that it is a prerequisite for marriage. This is not so where I was raised. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, marriages are often still negotiated between families with a somewhat businesslike quality. In most modern families, girls have some say in the matter. They can discourage suitors, or, as I did, delay marriage by seeking a university degree.
It isn't that Iranian men necessarily make bad husbands. Like my dear father, many are kind and gentle and interested in their wives as people, not just bearers of their children. Then again, some are not. There are family teas, gift-givings, and dinners, but a woman often spends no time alone with her fiance before her wedding. So it is, as one might say in America, a crapshoot. A woman goes into her husband's family in a white gown and she leaves it only in a white shroud, in death.
That is our culture.
And that is our future, inescapable for most girls.
Inescapable, it had
Raised amidst the confines of Iranian society, young Tamila Soroush escapes the oppression of Iran for the freedom of America, enjoying her everyday acts of rebellion against her background and capturing her new life through the lens of her camera, all the while searching for a husband who can prevent her return home. Original.
Laura Fitzgerald lives in Tucson, Arizona with her Iranian-American husband and their two children.
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