A STORY: #NoBanNoWall

Shahrnaz Javid

Shahrnaz Javid


All of Saturday I was accompanied with a heavy heart. That night I dreamt I had overslept and missed work. I was supposed to wake up at 9am and instead woke up at 9pm.  Peeling myself from a bed in a room that was unfamiliar but mine, I didn't think twice.  I put on my shoes, grabbed my jacket, and was out the door.  Certain I had somewhere to be, I found myself walking for miles without realization.  After some time, I was interrupted by a street vendor selling pashmak (Persian cotton candy), their signage was in Farsi.  

Confused, I looked around at my surroundings to notice a whole village in a Mediterranean climate.  I pulled out my phone, looked for wifi, went to google maps and zoomed out on my location.  I was in Iran and with no way back to my family.  What was I to do now?  As if I were wandering in some kind of limbo amongst other strays like me, trying to find their way back.  We were all standing around an open field terminal waiting with a ticket in our hands.  On the tickets, instead of a number to who will be helped next it was how long til you could return.  Some people had numbers in the thousands and I never figured out if it meant days, weeks, months, or years until they would be with their loved ones again.

All day I was on the verge of tears. The last time I was home my mother gave me a necklace that was a gift to her from my grandfather on my baba's side. It's agate and the names of Allah, Muhammad, and his family are etched in faintly. Every time I took a step the little stone thud against my chest, I thought about my grandparents lot in Iran that my 70-year-old aunt goes back and forth to maintain. I remembered a family who was dealing with a very bad addiction and how her parents sent her to Iran for three years to live with her grandparents and get clean. I thought about December. That I was the last person to board my flight because I was wearing a necklace that said "Khoda" (god) on it. How TSA “randomly” pulled me out to test for explosive residue. Similar to my first Lollapalooza in 2012. My 13-year-old cousin was flying from Columbus for the festival and she actually did miss her flight because TSA pulled her aside for the same reason. They flew her out the next day. Whatever the reason that someone must depart and/or return, I hate all of the blatant the bullshit they have to go through, the ridicule, the eyes, the islamophobia. Despite the irony of the ban, the night after my dream I was able to have left the city for a few short hours and return. The only thing that paused my travels was a momentary toll, not a wall, or ban. I'm grateful for my friends that kidnapped me on their road trip, they didn't know how much it meant for me to get away. Indefinitely our country has it’s work cut out the next four years. If this is only the beginning then I'm troubled to see the state of our country even in the next week. But in light of maintaining a tone of positivity and hope, someone recently quoted to me that "the grass is greener where you water it". We may be going through a drought, a testing time, but as always we must stand together. Share our stories, our injustices, and our truths to continue so that our voices are rightfully heard. 

Love you all,