I pull the covers over my face and turn away from the window. Outside, my parents are whispering, just as they did when we all used to live together, first in Iran, then in Houston. Before I left for the East Coast, my brothers moved to the West Coast, and my parents returned to Iran.
In a half-sleep state I hear mom complain about how her belly feels bloated. Now my father, the erudite spouse, gives his confident input: “I bet it’s from yesterday’s abgoosht.” Abgoosht is a Persian dish made with lamb, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, dried lime, chickpeas, and onions. Once the ingredients cook, we drain and serve the liquid with bread, then mash the solids together. Yes, beans can cause bloating but they forget that yesterday we had guests over, which at our house it usually means eating followed by more eating. Volumes. We had barely left the lunch table when mom offered everyone ice cream with Jell-O and asked me to serve tea. The coffee table already had bowls of nuts and fruits set on it.
Still, I adore how she agrees with her wise husband.
She fills the teakettle with water, and places it on the stove. Tsk, tsk, vroom: the pilot stove comes on. It won’t be long before the hiss of the kettle tells her that the water is ready for brewing tea.
My pillow, too firm when I first arrived in Iran two months ago, has yielded to me by now. It cradles my head softly.
Their next quiet conversation turns to dad’s work. This is when she becomes the sage advisor reminding him not to sell himself short, while always keeping a supportive tone.
Their give-and-take caresses my ears.
Thinking I’m still asleep, she takes care to put the small plates along with silverware on the kitchen table. Slow clanks here and there don’t bother me. They give me a stronger sense of home. And my parents’ shared bond gives me a relationship to aspire to.
Soon eggshells crack against the rim of the pan and a juicy sizzle follows.
When I hear the crunch of the bread crust, I imagine someone’s hands tearing a piece, spreading a bit of cheese on it, adding a dash of sour cherry jam and taking a bite. Oh yes.
At that moment, the sun puts her hand on my back and shoulder, gently kissing my eyelids to say, “it’s time to leave the bed. You only have a few more days before heading back to the States. Let’s not miss sitting at breakfast with them.”
As I open the door to the aroma of warm fresh bread and scrambled eggs, I hear mom finish her sentence in her characteristic hope-giving tone: “Inshallah, inshallah”, “God willing, God willing.”