The Wings Story by Shirin Raban
My dreams usually come true. I was tiptoeing on the borders of my grandparents’ Persian rug one day, when I saw Simorgh. The cool breeze seeping through her lavish fiery wingz, painted the most magnificent clouds of turquoise ripples. Her serene gaze went beyond the animals and exotic foliage, all the way toward the mountaintop. One burning feather slowly descended into my palm. It was cool and soothing. I closed my eyes. “Only if I could fly on her wingz above the clouds and through the rainbow to faraway lands with lots of toys, dolls and candy”, I thought. Grandpa said Simorgh carried the wisdom of the ages. She was the symbol of truth.
Then, one summer day, it actually happened. I was only six years old. We flew over oceans and clouds to Sweden, where everything was green and lush. Dad greeted us with toys and puzzles. Mom said it was ok that the statues were naked, since this was art, and of course it was Europe, and not Iran. And the zoo was huge with animals just like the playful and carefree ones I had seen in grandpa’s rug; not like the small and sad cages I had seen in Iran. Alas, we had to return home at the end of summer, since Dad’s sabbatical was done.
I was only eleven when everything changed. Waves of protestors were setting cars and stores on fire, creating chaos and asking for “independence, freedom, and Islamic Republic”. Schools got closed. Gas was rationed. Electricity was gone. And many people fled the country; among them were my grandparents. Mom managed to ship their rug and some of their belongings for them. Suddenly the ideals of the revolution gave place to fear. Our neighbor boys got killed in the war that followed with Iraq. Terror was in the air and airports were closed. Those little things in life, like reading a good book, having a meaningful conversation and walking bare-head in the breeze became quite precious. I missed Simorgh. I would close my eyes pretending to hold her burning feather, wishing to go to a faraway land again, where I could be truly free...
Then, again, one summer day it happened. I took my time to look at the Damavand peak, well aware that I may never see it again. I thought, “This is the same mountain where Zaal received his magic feather from Simorgh. She had raised him here and now his father had come to take him back.” I was ready to open my own wings and fly to the far away land where I was born in, leaving the land of my ancestors where I was raised.
I had arrived, and yet I was lost. Los Angeles was not at all what I had imagined. Endless choices turned my intense longing for freedom and flight into confusion. I was running fast, unaware of my broken wings when I met the old man. I had just landed an entry-level design job at House of Fabrics, where I would put together an abundance of ads in the weekly advertorial. I was quite pleased with my own computer skills, but here I was, counting the minutes to end yet another day. The old man was meticulously illustrating old-fashioned black and white ads with images of tape measures, spools and notions. He looked me kindly in the eyes and said, “Take a moment and slow down. Take this ebony pencil and always remember to draw first.” Years later, I tell my own students, “Go back and use that tracing paper and pencil to bring the soul of your designs to life.”
Then, one day, out of the blue, I saw her. She was staring at me through the window. “She must have been sitting here, longing to fly forever,” I thought. Suddenly a gust of wind passed by the rug store. There was an exquisite feather on the ground. I picked it up and closed my eyes. I wondered, “What would happen if...”
As I opened my eyes, I could have sworn she blinked at me.