My name is Elias.
I’m 16 ½ years old.
I live in a small shithole just outside Malmoe, Sweden – a total Suburban Utopia – my parents wanted it that way.
In order to ensure that my Sis’ and me would grow up in a childfriendly environment. Nice, kind and cozy.
Where the kids can roam around in the summer evenings without getting snatched by dirty old men or run over by rush hour drivers. Very cute.
Mom and Dad fled from Khomeini's Iran in the 80’s, to the safe, secure and splendid Sweden, maypoles and freedom. They met in Tehran in the 70’s, the dentist to be Fereshteh and Kamran, the poor literature student – and kaboom! Love and marriage. (I’ve seen pics of them, seriously Dad, how the hell did you look?
Mom was pretty, a bit like Farrah Fawcett, but dad… geez…) Mom looked like a moviestar and dad had to work his ass off in order to get her attention. But he succeeded at last. Apparantly.
Anyway. They were young and politically active, opposing the Shah regime (how did they end up such middleclass squares?) and the more agitated the situation got in Iran, the more the persecutions of the adversaries escalated – and both Dad and Mom got thrown in jail. (My Mom in jail – I can’t picture it.)
They were lucky that time and got out unharmed and they thought that things would change when Khomeini rose to power. It did. It became worse.
All of a sudden, Dad wasn’t allowed to shave and had to grow a beard.
Mom wasn’t allowed to outside the home without wearing a completely covering Chador
(a type of those garbage bags that some muslims wear.) (I may be a muslim myself but... they DO look like that...)
Their friends in the politically engaged circles, started vanishing, one by one and a religious reign of terror took over from the previous secularised one.
Some time in the beginning of the 80’s, when Madonna had managed to make tutus the latest fashion and Star Wars made people runt to the movie theaters, (ah, the birth of a corner stone in my religion…) Mom got pregnant.
She wasn’t allowed to be for very long, though.
When she was on her way home from the grocery store, she was jumped by a group of female religious police who were hysterical about Mom’s hair showing a tiny bit from under her Chador.
They beat her with their sticks and batons.
Not enough to give her physical life long damage, but apparantly still enough.
They didn’t dare to try to get any more children as long as the insane regime was in power and they still had the hope that things might some day become better, that Iran would become a good country to live in. It didn’t.
A couple of years passed and everything kept becoming worse and worse.
The net around the political activists kept getting tighter.
Dad’s best friend was arrested one night, right after Dad has left the friend’s appartment.
He saw him getting dragged away by the military, bleeding and beaten.
That was the last time anyway ever saw him.
When Mom discovered that she was pregnant again, they decided to flee the country.
After the horrible and dangerous journey and a ton of paperwork and turns, getting Asylum,
they stepped over the border to Sweden, in Malmoe.
Sweden, where the women wore the clothes and makeup that Mom never expected to be allowed to wear again and where people could join political demonstrations on the 1;st of may, without gettings hot or incarcerated.
No country in the world could be better than Sweden, that just couldn’t be possible.
So they turned into merry Swedes and celebrated christmas and danced around that stupid maypole like idiotic frogs. (Oh my god, Swedes, how the hell did you come up with that?)
Swedish lessons for immigrants, a tiny one room apartment in Rosengard, hardcore working and saving,
a little baby girl with black eyes is born – Maryam.
Further studies and a degree for Dad.
Savings and climbing the ladder of career, pays for a little house in a lovely suburb.
With a garden and a swing for Maryam.
Professor in literary history and Farsi at Malmoe College, Kamran Alizadeh, proud father of a little girl, caring husband of a beautiful wife, a hard working immigrant, is setting an example for the other immigrants.
In Sweden, anyone can make it, even an immigrant.
Irani women are apparantly all highly educated and intelligent – and so independent!
Just look at Fereshteh. Mother of a toddler, that still has managed to learn such a good Swedish -
of course she does have an accent, but still – would you imagine that she could learn to speak it so well, that’s so fantastic! And she’s a dentist! And how beautiful she is!
And so nice and… normal! Almost like a real Swede!
Maryam turns seven. Mom is fixing teeth, Dad is rambling about Ferdowsi, the garden has neat little rows of roses, just like they used to have in Tehran once.
In the summers, they have barbeques in the garden and chitchat with the neighbours, who all like
that immigrant family. So polite, so well mannered and so refined.
One could almost believe they were real Swedes!
In august, one of those summer nights, I am born.
Black hair, black eyes, a serious and silent kid. The complete opposite of my loud, extrovert sister who has a lot of opinions and will of mind.
We swing in our swing, runa round the neighbourhood in the summer nights, safe in the middle class Swedish suburban paradise. Two blackhaired little aliens among all the privileged blonde kids.
In the gang, but never really in the gang.
The immigrant kids.
Those, who’s parents speak funny, who eat weird food at home.
The kids probably don’t care all that much, but the parents always draw some kind of invisible line.
We and Them.
They aren’t racist, they aren’t hostile nor act bad, they just are like people usually are.
We and Them.
But we still have a lot of fun. I’m a total wimp, cry and bawl about anything and everything,
but my sister is always there to smack the one who dared to be mean towards her kid brother.
(Maryam, if you only knew how much teasing you have speared your little wimp brother from…)
One day, a new family moves into a house a couple of streets away from ours.
It’s one of Dad’s colleagues, who got convinced of moving here with his family after hearing my Dad speak himself warm about the great aspects of this little ideal township.
Anders is a History professor at the same College as Dad and a total weirdo.
Very, very nice and gentle, but completely confused and mostly mumbles to himself and has his nose buried in some kind of ridiculously thick history book with the families insanely ugly (and totally evil) red Persian cat named Potemkin, in his lap. (Why would anyone want a cat that looks like it’s ran into a wall?)
Potemkin loves only Anders. He tolerates the rest of the family but only has affection for his master, Anders. Everyone outside the family who dares to approach him, deserve to die and he does his absolutely best to achieve this. Potemkin really doesn’t do much to sell in the idea about having a cat as a household pet.
Anders Common-law wife Ingela (Anders and Ingela are Modern People and don’t believe that marriage is something one has to do) is an artist. She makes weird, ugly things in clay, that she sells for a lot of money.
Her hair is huge and curly, a cloud of sun around her head and she has a friendly laugh and hugs me and Maryam all the time.
They have a daughter, Nanna, who’s three years old. An adorable blond kid who always is carrying around that creepy cat and really doesn’t do much else. Three year olds are probably pretty anonymous usually.
And then they have a son. A copy of his mother. Sunlight curly hair, brown eyes and is the happiest person I have ever met. Back then as well as now.
Alexander (like Alexander The Great… of course… history professor Dad?) Elias Frid.
Like our names had decided already from the beginning that it was to be him and me.
Two Elias’. But it is unarguably good that it’s not his given name. That would have made things confusing.
We’re the same age and will go to the same class, come fall.
He’s as lively and blonde as I am silent and dark haired, but we become best friends immediately, from our first ”Hello”, when he took my hand and dragged me to his room to play.
Alex. The most important Alex.
Friend, brother, comrade in arms, always there, always with me, always him and me.
We grow up together. Climb trees (and fall down and hur tourselves totally), skid in the gravel with our bikes,
swim in an icecold Oresund, spy on cranky neighbours - being secret agents. We sleep in a tent in Alex’s garden in the summers (and terrified run into his house before it’s 11 PM.)
Scrape knees, break arms, eat icecream and mess around with Maryam who is Almost an Adult and in fury chases her out of her room.
I’m shy and introvert, but with Alex it’s never like that. I am like I am and he is like he is and neither of us want it any other way. With him, I never need to talk if I don’t want to and we can stay silent for hours.
Me reading or writing and Alex drawing or clinking his guitar.
We buy our first skateboards together and spend hours and hours reeling around, falling and cursing over the unsteady things, until we master them - and fly.
Time passed and we grew up, grew up more and became Almost Adults, like Maryam once was when we would eavesdrop on her talking about stuff on the phone with her friends.
We start High School and have different majors, but still me and Alex are glued together like Siamese twins. Two sides of the same person.
So it might not be all that surprising that it turned out this way. For me at least.
My name is Elias.
I’m 16 ½ years old.
Today I realized that I am love with my best friend.