Shirin’s parents sent her to live in London, a major English metropolis, when she was still a little child and was being raised in Tehran.
Shirin did not want to move in with her cousins in England, but her mother assured her that it was for the best. You will lead a wonderful new life in England and meet a wide variety of new acquaintances there, but it is no longer safe here.
Little Shirin wanted to cry because she adored her parents and did not want to be separated from them. She also had no acquaintance with her cousins.
Shirin had only ever seen them once, and since they did not speak Farsi, she was too young to understand what they were saying. Shirin found this to be really unusual.
The day finally came, and Shirin’s parents drove her to the airport where her aunt would lead her onto the aircraft.
Shirin murmured, “I’m terrified,” as her parents led her to the small booth where the man would examine her passport and ticket.
How can you be afraid, her father questioned. “Aren’t you the courageous young lady who never trembled when bombs were heard detonating in the city?” And aren’t you the child who persisted on going to school every day even while the other little ladies stayed at home with their parents out of fear?
That’s unusual, Shirin remarked. This is where I live.
Shirin’s mother held the young child and caressed her hair as she knee down next to her. I know you will make us proud, little one, she told her daughter.
Don’t worry though; when your father and I arrive in England soon, you may show us all the sights in London. I wager that you’ll be able to teach me a few new words and speak English even more fluently than you now do.
Shirin believed her mother to be the most intelligent person in the entire world, thus she enjoyed the concept of teaching her new words.
The young girl said, “I believe I could do that,” as her aunt seized her hand and urged them to board the aircraft before it took off without them.
Little Shirin tried to envision her future life while on the protracted flight to England. She convinced herself that if she did well in school, she would make her parents extremely pleased.
I can do this, she told herself. “This is as simple for me to do as plucking flowers.”
The young girl then went to sleep while having dreams about London. She pictured: old men in bowler hats, women with umbrellas, bright red buses, and the large mansion where the Queen lived with all of her soldiers wearing their tall furry hats and high boots. She also dreamed about tall clocks and broad rivers.
But when she got to the airport in London, it wasn’t at all what she had anticipated. It was windy and pouring, and the sky was an awful shade of grey.
Shirin’s toes were quite chilly and she regretted wearing her sandals. And worst of all… Worst of all was the impression that she was being seen as an extraterrestrial with a large head and three eyes by everyone.
Shirin was shocked to see she was the only person donning a chador. Why is she wearing a large fabric wrapped around her in that manner, a nearby girl pointed and giggled and asked her mother?
The young girl’s mother yanked her away and warned her against pointing. Shirin wanted to explain to the young girl that the garment she was wearing was actually a chador and that many girls in Tehran, along with their moms and grandmothers, wore them as a sign of their cultural identity.
Shirin naturally wanted to remove her chador because she disliked the way people were staring at her and wished she was back in Tehran where it was sunny and her toes would be toasty.
Her aunt pushed the little child into a large black taxi with an orange light on its roof and said, “Let’s get you home.”
Shirin thought the cabbie’s voice was quite amusing. not at all like Mr. Rahimi, her English teacher. Blimey and “awright darling, where to?” were some of the things he uttered.
Although little Shirin couldn’t understand what her aunt was saying, they were soon speeding across the city toward her new home.
Shirin wanted to find out why her aunt, who usually wore a chador when she visited her mother in Tehran, did not do the same thing in England.
The young girl reasoned that she must be hiding. However, Shirin also recalled that her mother had always advised her that it was pointless to try to conceal one’s true identity from people. As a result, Shirin questioned why her aunty chose to go undercover while in England.
London proved to be a really odd city. For the first week, it rained daily, and Shirin had no positive impressions of British summertime at all. Despite being assured that she spoke very fine English, she had problems comprehending what other people were saying.
And it found out that not just anyone could drop by the Queen’s enormous home to say hello, despite the fact that there must have been a hundred rooms available to receive guests and provide tea.
The young girl missed her parents, her friends, and her old house and was very dissatisfied with her new place.
Even the cuisine was unusual; instead of her mother’s colourful and delectable loobia polo with saffron or crispy tahdeeg, it was grey like the weather and appeared to come out of freezer boxes.
Shirin was anxious and made an attempt to convince her aunt that she was too sick to get out of bed on the day she was supposed to start at her new school.
She objected, “I don’t want to go.” “I don’t know anyone, and everyone is looking at me!”
“Little one, there are lots of girls at school who wear a chador exactly like you,” her aunt added. “Just wait and see, I’m sure you’ll make tonnes of friends today.”
But first, it didn’t go at all in that direction. There were other girls wearing chadors, it was true, but they were all older than Shirin and they would not converse with her.
Her classmates laughed and pointed at her. Since the new girl was unlike them and had dark complexion, dark eyes, and was wearing a chador, they did not want to become friends with her.
They all had blonde or light brown hair and blue eyes. Being so different from other people didn’t feel good, and Shirin wished once more that she was back at her mother’s house.
Little Shirin was preparing her big getaway back to Tehran during lunchtime when a young guy came up to her and started talking to her.
Stephen is my name, the boy said. Would you like some of my milkshake to share with me?
The small child then handed Shirin his strawberry milkshake, complete with a straw.
The milkshake was delicious, and Shirin had to restrain herself from downing the entire thing.
Don’t focus on the other people. Due to the fact that I live with my mother, they can be cruel to me as well. It’s just the two of us now because my father abandoned us a long time ago.
We don’t have a lot of money, and although my mother is fantastic and takes excellent care of me, people always make fun of me because they claim that I am impoverished and wear filthy clothes. Stephen shrugged as he looked down at his shoes and blazer. “They’re just old; they’re not unclean.”
A broad smile immediately sprang on the young boy’s face. They are absurd nevertheless. How could they know?
Shirin giggled because Stephen had a beautiful smile and a thick strawberry moustache from squeezing the milkshake’s straw out and downing the entire bottle with a glug, glugging sound.
The young girl was forced to acknowledge that she had never before let other people’s opinions to disturb her. Therefore, why should she start doing so now?
You’re correct, she affirmed. What do they really know? Shirin grabbed four pieces of baklava from her pocket and shared the sweet pastries with her new acquaintance in return for him giving her some of his milkshake.
Stephen exclaimed as he gobbled down an entire slice of baklava, “I think your headscarf looks cool.”
Shirin informed him that it is known as a chador.
The small child chewed on the sweet baklava while also rolling the words around in his tongue.
He commented, “Well, it looks really amazing.”
Stephen abruptly pulled his coat up over his head to resemble a chador as well. Shirin had to giggle once more since the boy did actually appear rather comical.
Shirin believed Shirin’s parents would adore Stephen since he was a strong individual who always saw the bright side of life, something Shirin’s mother had emphasised was crucial for everyone to do.
The two soon became engrossed in imaginative play and daring adventures, chasing each other around the playground’s corner.
Shirin told Stephen all about life in Tehran, and Stephen told Shirin about all the fun things to do in London, like play in the great park or visit the zoo or the movies. They then traded stories. Even a giant wheel that you could ride in existed.
They constructed it right next to the Thames River. He drew a large circle in the air with his arms and yelled, “It’s gigantic!”
It didn’t take long for the other kids to realise how much fun Shirin and Stephen were having, though, and they quickly gathered together to participate in the stories and activities.
Before the bell rang to send the kids back to class, a large group of kids were gathered around to listen to Shirin tell stories about her life in Tehran.
She told them about how she had hidden under her bed when she heard the bombs dropping from the sky at night or about how she would visit her crazy uncle, who lived in a large house on the beach and where she would go on vacation.
When the kids heard these tales, they were astounded and couldn’t help but ask Shirin a tonne of questions, which she was happy to respond to.
Shirin then inquired about England, enquiring as to why it was winter there while being summer and why the Queen disliked foreigners. The kids laughed at this.
In the end, a teacher had to enter the playground to summon the kids back to class since they were having so much fun that they had not even heard the bell ring.
Shirin experienced a wave of thankfulness as she crossed the playground toward Stephen because he had demonstrated to her something crucial.
She reassured herself, “It is good to be different, in fact, it is rather beautiful.” Little Shirin was determined to start over in England and make her parents very proud with this concept firmly rooted in her mind. Who knows, she reasoned, maybe when her parents arrived they might know how to get me to meet the Queen.