Story by: Aileen Zangouei is an 18 year old Iranian-Canadian born in Canada along with her 21 year old brother, Armin Zangouei, both raised by their parents from the city of Bushehr in Iran. She attends Gary Allan High School and is currently focused on upgrading her marks, taking The Writer’s Craft course with a plan for attending university in the near future.
Aileen has a passion to inspire and give people of her community insight on the difficulties many Middle Eastern women such as herself have to endure. She wrote this story for one of her assignments hoping to accomplish just that. It’s based on a true story with an alternate ending which according to her “could have been” her “fairy tale.” It, also, just so happens to be that she is living happily with Samin Amiri, the young male character in the story who is now her fiancé.
“You are now eighteen years old, the age of a young lady. You must keep in mind that you are to be married very soon.”
The night my Iranian father said this to me, was a very life changing, and indeed a scary night for me, because the idea of marriage before even dating has never occurred to me, especially when being raised in a counter-culture society like Canada. However, I knew in my mind that some day, I would have to have such an awkward and upsetting conversation with one of my parents. I knew for a fact, that bringing this topic of marriage at this point in my life had something to do with a man around my age in Iran. It definitely did, because I remember my first visit to Iran quite perfectly. I was eight years old, and I was offered the choice between three boys, all three being brother’s and my blood related cousins. I find marrying your cousin to be incest, and not because Canadian culture says so, but because it is also my final personal perspective on the idea. Also, once I did research on it, and learned that majority of people who married within the family give birth to babies with many serious defects. I guess science could furthermore explain this, but still it’s my personal preference in the end. Marrying my cousin was completely out of the question for me, but time-to-time I would consider the happiness of my parents, and how happy and relieved it would make them. Unfortunately, I do love myself to an extent where I want to make sure I am happy as well, which I just couldn’t see happening in this case. That night, once my dad left the dinner table, I really took the time to absorb the words of my father, and wondered to myself with plenty of worry, what would be to come about if I didn’t listen to his wishes, and instead listened to mine. In the end, it was something I knew I had to either accept and deal with, or fight against. This was definitely going to be a bloody war. The idea of a time machine pleased me. I mean being able to know what the future would bring would have meant the world to me right that moment, but when it comes down to it, fantasies are only found within fairy tale books at the library in the hands of young impressionable little girls. Eighteen years old and I’ve never had a boyfriend, and being told that marriage was expected of me soon. I knew for a fact they wanted me to marry my cousin in Iran. What else could possibly ruin my life? My life. It is completely threatened by a knife on a kitchen counter, but an unknown drive this whole time has kept me going, and I was about to find out what exactly that drive was.
Just like any other night, I felt completely depressed, alone, stuck, and unhappy. I logged onto my Facebook account. I had just changed my profile picture. My dark brown hair was long and wavy to one side, my skin a nice tan color. I was just absolutely attractive and perfect. First things first, I checked the pokes I received. A sensation of thrill traveled through my insides after seeing the boy who had been poking me for a near month poked me again. It was getting to be quite nerve racking, because I would prefer him adding me as a friend so we could introduce ourselves to each other. In addition to that, I was feeling lonely and wanted to do something different. I wanted to talk to a stranger who didn’t know what kind of a world I came from, not that anyone other than my best friend Alexsis knew. His name appeared on the top right side of my screen-‘Sam Mogimi’. His photo was refreshing, attractive, and because I didn’t know him, it was very mysterious. Just the sight of it gave me this unexpected feeling inside, a feeling of excitement and curiosity. I did the unthinkable, and messaged the stranger, telling him to just add me already. So much acceleration ran through my body, especially since I knew there was no going back. I knew for a fact he wouldn’t hesitate to add me. Getting random friend invites from random boys was something common for me. However, the thought that I was actually okay with this particular stranger made me feel changed. I was changed. I blame my parents. If they hadn’t always mentioned my cousin to me, maybe I would have treated this Sam Mogimi stranger just like the others. Other than tonight, I felt different. I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t stand going to school, talking to my friends, lying to them about how happy I was. I never was a good liar anyways; I’m sure my friends could see straight to the truth.
After a few minutes, there it was. At the top of my screen was a red message box with the number one in it, indicating that I had one new unread inbox message. The feeling that drowned me was like someone knocking on the door, but I knew exactly who was behind the door. I was positive that Sam was the one who inboxed me. I opened the message and all there was for me to read were two words.
“Sure beauty,” and pop came another red message box indicating that I had one friend request, this one friend request that changed my life forever.
Of course I accepted the request, and did not hesitate to look at his photos, and wall posts. His photos were mostly self-taken, and focused on his face. He was very handsome. Thick black hair, properly gelled, light brown eyes, plump lips, strong cheek bones, medium sized proportionate eyebrows, and a clean shave. He was the most handsome Iranian man I had ever seen. His wall made perfect sense to me, for that it had girls posting all over it. There were hearts, wink faces, kiss faces, and more hearts. It was no surprise to me that he was ‘one’ of those guys. I knew I had to be very careful with this one. As I looked through more of his photos, I continuously received notifications. It was he, liking nearly all my photos. I had done the same thing too; it was almost like a war, or maybe I took it too seriously. After about twenty minutes, he finally had begun to chat with me. I didn’t reply. I just froze with my eyes glued to the kiss face he sent me along with the simple hey. I debated with myself if I was sure or not about going through with this or not, which is exactly what I did. Remember, I’d had a terrible night.
It was time for me to go to bed. My friends at school could always tell when I didn’t get enough sleep, but that night sleeping was impossible for me. I couldn’t stop thinking about that wonderful conversation me and Sam had. At first, it was very typical. I had predicted everything he would say next, and got it right every time. He had many spelling mistakes and typed with a bit of a Persian accent since he only lived in Canada for three and a half years. The typical conversation transformed slowly into a venting period. We had gotten into the topic of this passion for soccer. He said he is a goalkeeper, and has a dream to become the best. It touched me, the fact that he was opening up with me, and this showed me that he wasn’t like all other guy’s; he was different in his own unique way. That night went from tears of sorrow, to a smile, which led to my goodnights sleep I had been long waiting for.
Summer finally came, and I had begun working at a summer camp. Sam Mogimi and I still kept in touch almost every single night. Things between us had gotten a little stronger. We trusted each other more, and I could tell we were both starting to really have feelings for each other. We told each other over Facebook things like, I miss you, I wish I could meet you in person, I wish I could hug you right now, you make me happy, and he even said I love you to me. We were saying those kinds of things to one another, only thing was I actually meant every word of it, and I hoped he meant it too. A little longer of talking to each other every night led to some commitment. We promised each other, that we love each other, and that we would not ever flirt or date the opposite sex. I felt very guilty inside. I felt guilty because he didn’t know what kind of a life I came from. A life where I am verbally abused everyday, psychologically tortured, having to slip a pill under my tongue to make me feel better every now and then. I was just a depressed girl, and he was making such a promise to me. I was afraid that if he knew the truth, he would want nothing to do with me ever again, and then my source of happiness and love would be lost.
We continued to message and chat on Facebook, but I was in need of a little more, and I could tell that he was too. He had an idea. He told me to get Skype where we could make video calls. The idea was perfect, but there was one thing stopping me, my parents. I knew getting away with secret messaging on Facebook was possible, but not so sure about video calling. A video call would mean I had to speak loudly, and whoever was eavesdropping and myself would hear Sam’s voice. That would be my mom. She was so good at eavesdropping; I thought maybe she worked for the FBI secretly. The lack of privacy I had in my house compared to brother disgusted me. It made me feel like the walls really weren’t there, and that every little move I made was being recorded and criticized by my beloved mother and father. The video calling idea was a clever one, but it was indeed much too dangerous for a girl like myself in a household like mine, but it had already gotten to a point where he was worth the risk.
I was beginning to notice that my spending night after night on the laptop was starting to make my parents suspicious, because they were hiding the laptop from me. Even that wasn’t going to stop me. I spoke to Sam as much as I could, sent him messages every night, as did he. We called each other late at night, every single night. One missed call, and I would have a heart attack, because I missed him that much. Our phone calls were deep. We told each other we needed one another, and that without each other, we would be lost. I could tell that we both meant it. It was so hard to say goodbye to him, when the time finally for my family’s end of the summer camping trip. We went to the lovely Sauble Beach. It was a camping trip that lasted 3 rough nights, but really was supposed to be 5 nights of fun. My mom and I had gotten into a fight nearly the entire trip. The fight was about absolutely nothing, I think she was just in need someone to take her anger out on, so she chose me since I was the easiest and smallest target in the household. I couldn’t take it any longer after the third night, so I packed up the courage to pack up my clothes, empty the air out of my blow-up mattress, load it in my brother’s car, and packed almost everything up as well. When it came to the tent, my father helped, but he was not happy, not one little bit. The look they were all giving me hurt so much. They were all looking at me as if I didn’t belong in their family, as if I was extra. I guess I was. It all hit me that day how unfair life was, especially since I didn’t do anything wrong, I was provoked. It was a desperate time for me where I really needed Sam. He was the only one who made life worth living. I was that unhappy.
We got home from the lame excuse of a family camping trip. I couldn’t wait to see what messages my love had sent me while I was gone. I logged onto my account, and saw that I had a message from him. Everyday that I was gone, he sent me long messages telling me that he so sad without me, he misses me, misses my voice, that he loved me, and hoped I was safe. He knew I would be safe, but he was very protective of me like that. He was probably on the hit list of a few boys after the things he messaged them when he had seen them posting on my wall. He wanted to me to be his, only his, and only his I was. That night, everyone had been sleeping, and I managed to find the laptop under the bed that belonged to my brother. I video called Sam, listened to his voice through headphones, and I muted the microphone since I couldn’t say anything or else my parents would wake up. I could see tears in his eyes when he saw me, but I said nothing about it. More and more, I knew he loved me, and I knew that him and me had no one else other then each other. I held the pages of my diary up to the screen so that he could slowly read what I wrote about him while I was on my horrid camping trip. My diary was a bloody red color with roses all over it. It represented me perfectly. In my diary, I wrote about how much I loved and missed him. I wrote about how I wish I could live with him, and marry him already so I could move on with my life and actually be happy for once. It surprised me so much that he had a diary as well. He held his up to the screen so that I could read his. It was a dark brown book, very flexible, with many pages already filled in.
“I met the most amayzing girl today. Her name Leeny, and I love her so mach. I miss her so mach. Why life is so hard. I hope she is okay and safe, and that she is doing only good things. I love her so mach.”
His spelling mistakes brought a tear to my eye. I could not believe he was so sensitive, loving, caring, and nice towards to me. That night, we loved each other more than ever, and I knew deep down, God would bring me to him. We deserved one another.
School had begun, and I was back in high school as a victory lapper. I wanted to upgrade my marks. Sam’s birthday was coming soon in October, and he wanted nothing more but to see me. The thought of seeing him made me happy, but knowing that it was impossible killed me as to how I was going to break it to him. My mom and dad would never allow it. I knew even if I asked, the fact that I met him on Facebook would make them furious. Also, they had promised me to my cousin in Iran, so they would never allow it. I couldn’t even risk asking them, because if I did, they would know from then on that something was up, and the laptop or any connection to Sam would be gone. Going to school with kids a year younger than me was a little depressing since I missed all my friends from the year before. A few friends heard I was still at school, and were nice enough to come visit me. We would go to the plaza next door for lunch, and I even had a second period spare, so it was a whole 2 hours and a half. This gave me an idea. If Sam were really that serious about seeing me for his birthday, which was a school day, he would have to come on that Tuesday morning during school to see me. I told him that night I had come up with the great idea, and he said it was a good one too. We both could not believe it; we were actually going to meet each other once and for all. We spoke on the phone every night after that night, and he would always tell me how when he saw me he’s going to kiss me, and I told him that once I saw him, I would jump into his arms. Even though the day was about 3 weeks away, we still wanted to plan out what we were going to do. I told him I would show him my classes, and walk him around the garden of my school. My school was a perfect place to be, since it had three large rose gardens, a mini waterfall where one can sit on the rocks and just look at it, and an outdoor large theatre. I just could not wait.
to be continued…