Neda Semnani | Longreads | March 2018 | 20 minutes (4,986 words)

August 8, 1982. It was nearly five in the morning when my uncle Kavoos woke up my six-year-old cousin Laleh to say goodbye. He left her his calligraphy pen and asked her to keep it safe for him until he could come back for it. She nodded sleepily and promised that she would. She kissed him before falling back to sleep. In the other room, my mother, aunts, and uncles were gathering the last of our belongings and arranging them in the trunk of the car, while Laleh’s older brother, my cousin, Asef, wailed.

Why can’t I come? he asked, tears streaming down his face. At eight years old, he knew a long road trip meant picnics, and picnics meant freshly grilled kabobs.

I want to come too! he screamed, inconsolable. I want to kabob!

For goodness sake…

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