Introduction

It was my mother who gave me the news: after thirty-three years, they were going back home to Iran. She told me my father had made his decision.

I had always sensed my parents’ connection to Iran, but it never occurred to me that they would yield to the calling of their birthplace. The Iran they had left three decades earlier wasn’t the same Iran that exists today. I asked myself why my father would decide it was time to go back, especially considering the fact that his damnation of the Islamic government that had replaced the Persian monarchy, and of the clerics who forced him into self-exile, was a daily occurrence in our household.

Immigrants like my parents, who long to one day return to their homeland, more often than not pine for a country that no longer exists. They become exiles not of one land but of two countries.

Why does an immigrant, even one who, like my father, a proud naturalized U.S. citizen, decide it’s time to go back home? What propels them back to their country of origin? When does the feeling of homeland become all consuming, its call too difficult to ignore?

Within these pages lies my quest to understand my father’s decision to return to Iran — the whys, the hows — which ultimately led me to trace our family history. The story is of a uniquely Iranian experience — of the home culture, of rootedness, and of exile. It is a story of Iran beyond the Revolution, beyond politics — the story of an Iranian family whose tradition of endurance reaches back centuries. It is a story I hope my children will pass on to theirs.

I hold my hand out and invite you to join me in my parents’ journey to—and eventually from — America.   More>>>

Mitra K. Shavarini