My brothers

During my years in college, I had a nickname “Ly and the Persians”. Very simple: almost all of my friends are Persian. You know one, you know all of them, one friend of a friend, one after another and you end up knowing the whole persian community in the city. Most of them left Iran very young, around the age of 11 or 12. They attended high school then college in Europe, yet, what I like about them is they still possess a subtle mix of oriental and occidental values. In friendship, they are very present and spontaneous. I like the way we had spent time together without having to plan it weeks or months ahead. When we were younger, one cooked and all the others came by and we had dinner together almost every evening. We hung out every single day, at the cafeteria, sometimes we skipped lectures and played cards somewhere in the hall.

There were four of them and me. Just like the fingers of the hand. They were like my brothers. My mother used to say that they were my “references”, the male figures of my life as my parents divorced when I was five, and I had never seen my father ever since. I think somehow they all act as if they were really my blood brothers. I don’t know when we started this “family pact” thing. Probably at first because of my mom. I remember once before a long trip to Vietnam, my mother cooked a huge dinner and invited all of them. She asked them to take care of me while she was away. She did not designate anyone in particular. That was when they started to play the role of my brothers. It was not always easy for me. Because when I went out for a date, they asked who the guy was. Nicely but still, they took their role quite seriously.

Ali: The incarnation of natural elegance and a subtle “I don’t care” attitude. Imagine you can throw a plastic trash bag on him and let him wear it and he is still elegant. Even the way he holds a cigarette is elegant. Maybe because he is so easygoing that after a while his body and gestures are completely personified by this attitude. He is the only guy who could wear white clothes from head to toes in winter time and would not look ridiculous. Ali doesn’t follow fashion. He invents fashion.

“The King of the Cool”, I call him. He is the coolest I think. I could do any foolish thing, he would always say: “You are gonna be fine”. You can never be dramatic with him because in just one second he can unravel all of your stories and demystify all of your heroes (men I used to fall in love with). Things are light when you meet him. He is the one who will always be there for you. Sure thing.

Afshin: “the whining kid”, the one we used to make fun of most of the times. Af. and I we once promised to each other we would be the “back up” plan if we did not get married by the age of 30 (now he is married, thanks God, I am kidding!). We used to have some getaway weekends all together. What we did: we just went to visit my mother and stayed there the whole weekend. We watched movies together, ate Vietnamese food until we were completely stuffed. I remember the one time we had laughed out loud for at least half an hour, that was when Afshin showed up in a one-piece pajama (the one only babies can wear !!!) before bedtime. It was the funniest and the most unforgettable memory of our times together. He now works with my mother in some movie projects. I had a chance to make a trip with him last year to promote one of her films. We went to Asia and I think I had spent the whole 11 hours inflight laughing with tears in my eyes. Exceptional trip. Happiness in the purest state.

Bahram: He is quite a character. We were living in the 80s and the 90s together but his look during the whole time was 70s. I never understand why he chose to have this outfit. In college, he was so different. It seemed like he never fit in, always a bit out of time and out of space, but this “disadvantage” finally gave him a kind of outdated charm. He had the haircut of Michael Jackson in Jackson Five, his colorful shirts were tight with huge large collars, his large trousers. He danced and sang like Prince. He had such a special of humor. We had a special relationship too, maybe not only a friendly one sometimes. If I went out for a date, he could be mad at me for a few days. I remember ¬†an episode with him. Once he was angry with me for a week, I could not stand it anymore so I called him and asked for an explanation. We went to have coffee and cake at a tea-room. A tiny tea-room with five tables, all decorated with very kitsch plastic flowers and all pink, the kind of tea-room only reserved for old ladies or grandmas. We sat down and I started to yell at him: “Why are you mad at me? You did not even say hello to me at school for a week now ? What happened? Was it because of this guy I have met? What’s wrong with you? Are you in love with me? Aren’t you? “. I shouted. Silence in the room. All the grandmas stared at me, this silly girl. I was really loud. Bahram looked at me and made “shhhhh….sssshhhh….low your voice..” Then after five minutes, he yelled back with all his lungs open: “Who do you think you are? In love with you ? Are you kidding me? Who can fall in love with such a hysteric??” Then we both realized how ridiculous we were and burst into loud laughs. Bahram got married a few years ago. We lost contact when he had the second kid.

Navid: And then there IS Navid (drums and trumpets, please !!!). The quiet, the gloomy, the alpha male Navid. He has the aura, the charm, the charisma AND the body of Apollon. He is the kind of guy whom you ask to put on clothes when you are with him at the pool, because otherwise nobody could concentrate on the conversations. When you are with him, even if there is an earthquake or a tsunami, you can still feel safe. He never talks a lot but he has a way to communicate to you, a very particular way which can heal you immediately when you are in deep sorrows. Maybe because he is a doctor and doctors always know how to comfort people or to encourage patients with very few words. He exudes serenity and calmness. He never shows off, not once. He says nothing about him, his career or achievements. You google him and you see he won prizes of surgery all over the world, he had published prestigious medical articles. Recently I just had a drink with one of our common friends, also a surgeon. This friend told me he could not do surgery on noses because it was the most difficult thing to do. You need to have practiced on at least 300 noses, alone, without your chief’s assistance in order to be a nose surgeon. Then he added: “Navid, he can, he did, I think, 500 noses by himself when he studied in the US.” Nobody knows that.

My mother has a deep secret. She has always thought that I should have married Navid. I told my psychiatrist about my mother’s desire. He looked at me and asked: “And you? What do you think? Do you think you should have married Navid ? “. Full stop. End of the conversation. But two years ago, one night I dreamt that I indeed got married with him. The next morning, I texted him: “Hey we got married in my dream last night”. He answered: “I am very honored”.

These are my brothers. I wish you could have met them and known them. I have loved them equally, differently but equally. They completed me. Like my mother used to say: “I don’t know which one is my favorite”. Me either. I don’t know which one is my favorite. The four of them, probably.

PS: This morning – text message from Afshin: ” It’s clear. Your favorite is Navid”. From Navid: “I am flattered to be on your blog…hum..I hope ;-). From Ali: “…..enormous………….”