The Red Sirens of Tehran
At Imam Khomeini International Airport, a young woman who goes through passport control to wait for boarding the flight to Istanbul, remembers one of her previous arrivals at this airport: that of her last family outing abroad, to Istanbul, after the end of the war between Iran and Iraq. She remembers her conversation with her father who had assured her that everything would be fine, the tears of her mother and her two little sisters, her talks with immigration officials and other “adults” who interviewed her first in Tehran and then in Istanbul. These memories make her reflect on around many others of her childhood: that of the large garden in the shade of the trees of the large jasmine-scented house of her grandparents, of her affectionate grandmother, of her majestic grandfather and their skillful butlers.
Every meeting, every conversation, every coffee, every little detail at the airport then leads her to the destruction of her childhood: to the nights of air raids that she had to spend at the shelter of the basements of beautiful houses, to the unexpected death of her very young grandmother, the disappearance of her beloved friends from primary school…
The novel continues with flashbacks, describing in detail not only the panorama of her childhood in Iran and adolescence in Turkey or her life, but also the context of the Iranian Revolution, the sanctions and the embargo against Iran, the war between Iran and Iraq and the years after the war with a selection of historical documents told by personal testimonies.
The author takes the reader to her Turkish lessons and to her high school in Izmir, to a historic café and to the pastry shop of a Jewish chef in an old district of Tehran, to the banks of the Bosphorus, to the consulate general of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Istanbul and to the corridors of a pulmonology hospital in Tehran, during her transition or transformation from the little girl she once was to a young woman in her thirties …
“Children of war do not know the blue sky… Their cities aren’t just painted gray as they grow up. The rain does not manage to rinse; the snow does not reach to cover the color of smoke of their cities… “
“… And a gentle giant came into town, to save everyone. That was how all the tales of Tehran ended…”