Afsaneh, Box II | 2014

After many years of searching and disappointments, Afsaneh had finally found a job. She was training to be a receptionist at the local doctors surgery. There was excitement in her voice as we spoke on the phone, something I was not used to hearing. It was a cause for celebration!

We arrived late as usual but she did not seem too bothered this time, just glad to see us. She complained of a headache which was not out of the ordinary. In half an hours time Afsaneh would suffer a stroke and by the evening she would slip into a coma from which she would not return.

She'd prepared fresh watermelon juice which to me tasted strangely metallic but fine to Joceline and Faris. As we all settled down onto the sofa, the first thing Afsaneh asked me was about the letter that I had mentioned to her on the phone. A couple of weeks prior, I had been going through old school papers and art work and had found an old letter Afsaneh had hand written to me in the summer of 1989. She had no recollection of it. I was twelve years old and had just had a leaving party at my school and was supposed to be returning to California to continue living with my mother. However a week into that summer break, after having said my farewell to my friends and teachers, I was told by my father that the plans had changed and I would not be going. For me this was yet another betrayal in a long line of empty promises and white lies that I had been fed throughout my childhood. I'd had enough and was furious with my father who would not give me an explanation.

It was then that Afsaneh handed me the letter. Enclosed within it were 5 authorisations to take out 15 certificate films from the video store. She knew this would soften me up! In the letter she tried to explain how life for them (the adults in my life) had not turned out how they had planned. My father was doing the best he could for me and it would make him sad to think that I did not want to stay with him. She told me how they both loved me and that I should enjoy these years as they would be the best of my life, wherever I was.

My father and Afsaneh did not communicate on an emotional level, whatsoever. I would receive more kisses and hugs from my best friends parents in a month than in the 3 years of living with my father and his sister, so this emotional display from Afsaneh was a big deal to me. A turning point in my life, it made me realise that I would have to take control of my own destiny to avoid anymore disappointments in this life. It marked the beginning of my adolescence. Armed with this knowledge and of a new beginning, I was able to return to my school when term began again and face the music!

I explained all this heartfelt stuff to Afsaneh that day and then we all laughed at the fact she still could not remember writing it. "Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you" I said, to which she smiled.