I know where paradise is. I remember it each time I recall my childhood.

I also know the address of the Hell. It’s where I live now.

I was a cute, fat, smart little girl who wore short dresses, nice shoes; I had a colorful umbrella decorated with cartoons and it was adorable, like my face.

In winter, I loved snow and snowballs. I wore scarves with a hot coat, trousers, and mittens. I looked like a lion but my father called me Tiger.

As a child, I was in love with funny things . . . For example, I loved to eat all the time. Whatever I came across—even if it was inedible—was worthy of putting in my mouth. I loved my mom’s cooking, especially her soups—their scent was to die for. And rice and manto and ashak. I loved my mom’s kind and delicious hands; they tasted of the spices she used. I also loved pen caps but I don’t know why I didn’t like pens!

I loved to use my mom jan’s lipsticks. When she wasn’t looking, I would paint my face with them. One time, I slid the lipstick across my neck and broke it, so I hid it under the dressing table. Right before my mom jan walked in and punished me, I was thinking how great it was that I was behaving like an adult; I looked at the sky and asked God to hurry me into adulthood so that I would no longer have to steal and hide my mom jan’s lipsticks. I prayed for the day I would have my own.

I have them now—many pretty lipsticks—but I almost never wear them.

I was in love with long hair. I dreamed I grew my hair for the moon and thought the moon—because it would like my long and golden hair—would become my friend.

I put long yarn in my hair and shook my head, pretending it was all mine. My hair was brown, the yarn was black, but that made no difference because I decided that when I got old, both colors would change.

I also liked wearing high heels. Oh my goodness, I loved watching myself walk in them. The teck! teck! teck!—the voice of those shoes—transported me into a dream world that for a while came true. I wore beautiful shoes for a long time but now their teck! teck! teck! voice has been silenced and I wear only comfortable shoes.

I had three dolls: Nazo, Farida and Fatima. Every day I threw a wedding party for them and they had more than one hundred husbands. I didn’t dream a husband for myself but I liked to advise them on life and relationships. Whatever was new and interesting to me, I shared with them. I wanted my dolls to be happy but they remained silent. I decided that they couldn’t tell me their dreams because it was time for them to sleep.

I remember my mom’s voice. “Lunch is ready, baby. Wash your hands and come!” I hated having to pause to wash my hands before enjoying her delicious food.

I loved the song of my cat. Mew mew! every morning.

I loved to kill flies or put them in jail! The jail was made of paper and thin wood with a narrow door. I was the guard and I think I was cruel to them. My cat was my boss. I reported to him what crimes the flies committed and I hung them on the wall.

Life was sweet, like chocolates.

But in adulthood, things changed. Freedoms went away. When I laughed, people said I was crazy. When I cried, they said I was a child. When I spoke truth, they claimed it was a lie, and when I said right, they thought me wrong. When I loved, they said it was a sin.

This is why life is hell for me.

I miss my childhood; I touched the stars in my dreams. But did I think the flies were criminals simply because they were flies?

By Roya


4 responses to “Childhood

  1. Wow! This is wonderful! What a powerful poem you’ve written. The lines, the cadence — everything is so well done. The line “Life was sweet, like chocolates” was heartbreaking. Very impressive writing.

  2. There is so much joy weaved within your poem that even its loss creates a space for the reader to wonder how it can recapture it in adulthood. Your piece is transporting, in both time and life philosophy. Thank you.

  3. This is an awesome poem. The way you write is beautiful, and it captures the reader from the start. As a teacher of mine would have said, you really grab the readers attention and somehow flow emotions from the words.

  4. Your words are poetry — it runs through you like blood. I can tell that no matter what you wind up doing in life, or where, you will always be a poet. These are beautiful words and images.

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