Updated: Sep 17
A name that means spring. Spring is when flowers blossom out into the world and when my pollen allergy interrupts my day.
Bahar is when I jump out of bed in the morning, put my flowery dress on and eagerly eat breakfast and run to school. The wind aggressively ruffles its way through my hair as the police meet my eyes with a smile, telling me to be careful when crossing the street. It is a spring when police protect us with their batons and do not use it against us. It is when all the boys and girls in my class play tag during recess and pass notes during math class.
Bahar is when I tell my crush I like her and ask her to eat lunch with me. The only fear present is the one of rejection, neither flogging nor stoning will ever be a punishment for who I admire.
Bahar is when baba teaches my brother, Armin, and my sisters how to grill kebab with corn. Maman cooks rice and tahdig, and I rapidly put plates and cutlery on the thin, translucent plastic sofreh, anxious for dinner to be ready.
Bahar is when the sun shines and dances in the Persian sky a bit longer than usual, then slowly changes the colors of the horizon, politely excusing itself before it leaves.
Bahar is when my aunts, uncles, cousins and I go to the beach and swim until we get tired. It is when my aunts and I sing and dance so loudly that our voices echo throughout the country and into the dictator’s ears. A voice that screams sirens of help from Evin prison where the inmates did nothing but commit sinless crimes of freedom and justice.
Bahar is when my entire family and I stay up late and have a staring contest with the stars as my uncle and grandpa inhale the apple-sweetness of the hookah. Grandma always side-eyes them with a disapproving raising of her eyebrows, saying how damaging smoking is to their lungs. She knows very well that a walk in the streets towards the market is just as bad for their health as pollutants threaten your lungs with cancer.
During Bahar nights, my little sister walks on baba’s legs pretending it is a bridge hundreds of meters in the sky, while the adults eat sunflower seeds and watch the CNN headline “Nuclear deal in Iran”.
Bahar. A name that means spring.
A spring when my entire family and relatives gather to celebrate Nowruz. A new year, not filled with snow and resolutions, but with a green Sabzeh plant that symbolizes new beginnings. Laughter, dance, insisting guests’ pastries and tea spiral their way into Persian homes.
A spring when my mother, aunts and I can wear what we want; whether it is a headscarf, a beret or a messy bun. When my grandma can walk out into the streets with her long coat, and me in my shorts.
A dinner I hope to eat with my family once the dictator stops feeding us bullshit. Food and restaurants I hope to share with tourists that see our culture as something to appreciate, not pity. Mountains in Ardabil that make ski lovers reach their high and beaches in Kish where families can sun tan.
One day, I want to leave my plain, dark blue covered school uniform that drapes my body and go to school with my favorite dress and my hair in braids. I want the teacher to compliment me on my nail polish and tell me my mother braided my hair beautifully. When I can sit in a classroom and learn my math amongst both boys and girls, for math is math, no matter who is trying to learn it.
A family trip to the beach I hope to take where we can all swim together, where girls and boys are not divided.
A Bahar when I can hold my girlfriend’s hand out in public and give her a kiss that won’t result in a death sentence. A spring when my parents won’t have to worry about their daughter marrying another girl.
A Bahar day when Armin can sit in a car with his girlfriend without it being a crime.
When Iran is shown on the news, not for its nuclear deals, but for the freedom and rights of its people. When we can embrace a culture that runs in our blood like wolves under a moonlit night. Where Milad Tower is just as known as the Eiffel Tower.
A horizon I hope to see when the dictator no longer blindfolds us, prevents us from seeing the beauty in our country. Where he gives back the crown he stole from our king.
Bahar. My name means spring.
A season I hope to experience when my family’s country is ours again.
Written by Natalie K.
Cover photo by Tianlei Wu.