Under the Golden Sun

04/23/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

On a spring day when chamomiles grow to cover the surrounding mountain hills of Kermanshah, a city on the western provinces of Iran and close to the border of Iraq, my family and relatives took shelter under that yellow and white umbrella. We all had abandoned our houses and belongings to escape the Iraqi bombings. Homeless and hopeless, under that golden sun, we felt safe. Kids played and gathered wood to light up fire at nights. They climbed up and down all day long. They found a cave in those tall Zagros Mountains, a shelter for us when the red alarm went off on the radio. The mountains were the safest place--Iraqi airplanes would not bomb the rocks. From the mountains, we could see the Iraqi airplanes, passing over our heads to kill the citizens of Kermanshah. Dozens of them flew in that blue sky, as if birds were migrating from cold to warm climate to attack the surrounding beetroot fields. How I wish they were birds, and they would attack the fields, instead of killing the innocents. The sound of the airplane engines traveled into our bodies, viberated into our souls, and left us all guilty to be safe in that dark mountain whole. The bombs and artillery echoes created a mixed shivering of joy and fear. Children cried, and adults held us tight to assure us of safety. Elderly whispered verses of Koran to ask for protection. God responded to theirs asking, or maybe it was luck, who knows. Yes, that wilderness and its mountains protected us for weeks before the cease-fire ended an eight-year war, in 1988. We survived the catastrophe and went back home where we realized many friends and acquaintances left their memories for us. Mournful and disturbed we remained for the rest of our lives.
Guilty of survival, we felt
Happy of living, we left
Mournful and sad, we faced
Wounded and injured, we remained.