Hadis Hayatdavoudi

Annie and I Were Each Other’s Stories

My sister, Annie, was three years younger than me. We all turn into others in one way or the other. One could turn into a photo frame whose photo has been lost, longing after a smile that is no more, desiring a lock of hair that is not there, lost after the tale of a girl who, in the 1001st night, left the scene. I still look in the skies for the flight that took Annie away.

We all turn into what we lost. I have turned into a story lost in the winds. The fairy of this tale left the story right on the 1001st night.

In the story that remains I am a brother who cries and looks everywhere in every story to find his sister. She is to be found nowhere.

I go to the pages of the story before she left. Annie was laughing and dancing on every page. My sister and I wrote together, read together, grew up together, line by line.

Annie was full of energy and couldnt remain in one place. She ran and pulled everyone behind her. She would run so fast that she was always the first to school. Wherever she wanted to study, they wanted her. Everybody wants a girl whose hair makes the breeze dance. Everybody wants a girl whose laugh makes walls collapse. Her teachers and professors always loved her dearly.

Two years ago, Annie told me: Dear Ehsan, I am both happy and sad.

Why, my sister?

Western University in Canada has given me an offer. But how can we leave each other?

Wherever you are in the world, as long as you laugh like this, you are with me. I reach you with the first story.

— Promise?

— Promise.

She left me and went to Canada. She gave life to stories there too. Before long she sat in the midst of the best story and right on top, where every story tries to reach. She fell in love.

Ehsan, I feel something has happened to my heart. It is sometimes fast, sometimes slow. I think I love someone.

My sister met someone in a seminar and made this a love story.

Annie knew how to build a story-in-a-story. She asked me:

Ehsan, isn’t love at first sight wrong?

My dear Annie, if love is not there at the first sight, it is not love at all. It is calculation. Do you remember when we were kids? When the skies thundered and you were scared?

I remember, my brother.

Do you remember we saw the wild sight of lightening from behind the windows and you spoke of its terrifying sound that was about to come?

I remember.

We looked at the sky together. We saw the lightening and all the skies were alight.

I remember, Ehsan. You said I wouldn’t be scared if I look at it and if I knew where it was coming from.

You will come back to Iran and we will decide the rest of the story together.

Annie, I wish the story had finished with that last sentence. I wish someone had closed the book and you hadnt come back.

You had only seen 27 springs in your life. You were all my stories, my One Thousand and One Nights.

You said: My brother, I have found a house for when you come.

She had plans for all the days of my imagined trip to Canada. That damned missile hit all her dreams.

Annie, you are not around anymore and to bear this chapter of the story is harder than you think. The story is now full of not coming, not seeing, not staying, not kissing, not hugging.

The night before you left, you said: My friends asked me to postpone my ticket. Well all pitch in,they said.

That would be great.

But you didn’t stay. People said there might be war. You said: Let me take my life and go. You will come soon to join me.

It was midnight when you decided to rush and go catch the plane. Now all the songs of the world are singing in unison: Shame on the fate when it makes bad worse; when your innocent tears come way too soon.

I wont say goodbye because youll be with me in less than a month,you said at the airport.

I wish time could go back. To when we were kids. To when I cut all your hair and you cried. Or that other day when you were thirsty and I gave you medical alcohol by mistake. You coughed and couldnt breathe. I was dying of fear. You caught your breath and you laughed. I was shocked and couldnt move but you laughed so much that my laughter came too. I wish the story had finished right there, in the midst of our tears and laughter. I wish the story finished without you leaving.

Everyone becomes like someone theyve lost. I have become like a wave that resembles your hair. I crash against the shores of my loneliness. You had nothing to do with politics but the dirty men of politics have something to do with everybody. They didnt let you finish your 28th year of life. They didnt let you reach love. We tried so hard to separate our story from their darkness, but they didnt let us have our own story. They shot our story down. They separate sisters from brothers, fathers from sons and daughters, lovers from beloveds. Their job is to force stories to remain unfinished. My Dear Annie, when I say that the unfinished flight crashes inside me everyday, they dont understand the anxiety I speak of. When I speak of the void you left, of the hole I can feel in my heart, they dont understand me. You and I were each others stories. Annie, come back to the story and dont let it become a void.

Your brother, Ehsan

Writer: Zahra Abdi
Translator: Arash Azizi
Editors: Hannah Sommerville, Natasha Schmidt
With the support of iranwire.com

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