The Journey series
In this week’s Mustard Seed my sister heads back home and I head back to school.
Throughout our travels we sent many letters and postcards home describing our adventures. Uncle David's Bandar Pahlavi address was the first opportunity for us to receive return correspondence. There were several letters waiting upon our arrival, one was from our mother.
Mom was so alarmed by our adventures that she sent airfare for my sister to return home. I prefer to think she believed I was resourceful enough to fend for myself, but I rather think she felt I deserved my fate for dragging my sister into all of our adventures.
My sister was more than ready to comply. Even if the offer had been extended to me, there was the matter of our van and the Iranian auto import taxes. Uncle David was due to leave three days hence for two weeks' working in CEDA's Tehran office. He would arranged for Hilda's journey home from there. Aunt Louise and cousin Ianine would travel with him to Tehran and return to Canada. Our younger cousins, Christopher and Jennifer, would remain with us under our care. With her return home assured – and planning in Uncle David's hands rather than mine – my sister relaxed.
We had a nice visit over the next three days, familiarizing ourselves with the area and meeting some of our uncle's coworkers. Uncle David lived in a small community of Canadian and American workers. Each family had a two-bedroom bungalow. It was nice to settle in one place for more than just a few nights – with indoor plumbing and a kitchen. As guests of our uncle we were welcome to attend all expat facilities.
In due time we bid farewell to Uncle David, Aunt Louise, and cousin Ianine. One of the amenities for expats was a weekly family movie night. That was our entertainment plan for the first day as our cousins' guardians. We got popcorn, found our seats, and the lights dimmed. Donald Sutherland played a detective and Jane Fonda played his mysterious neighbour. As the movie progressed it became apparent she was a prostitute. Fortunately, we caught on and were able to leave before any explicit scenes.
The next day Christopher asked why lots of men visited her but didn't stay very long. My sister avoided the issue by explaining he would understand when he was older. We decided it would be safer for me to read to them for their entertainment. We found a copy of The Hobbit. They listened intently and seemed to enjoy my reading even though I wasn't sure they understood.
It became our routine to eat dinner, clean up and snuggle on the couch; me in the middle with the book and a cousin on each side. After Bilbo Baggins returned safely to the Shire we dug out The Lord of the Rings.
I can't recall whether Uncle David returned from Tehran before or after Bilbo returned from the Misty Mountains. While he was gone I learned that many relatives of expat workers found employment teaching English to Iranian Naval cadets. One of the wives introduced me and I was hired to start at the beginning of the next term.
Uncle David returned with tickets for Hilda's trip back to Canada via Baku, Moscow, St Petersberg, Helsinki, London, and, finally, Vancouver. I was able to finish reading Lord of the Rings before moving to a rented house in Rasht that I shared with four other teachers.
Almost thirty years later Jennifer, the youngest of my cousins, told me she preferred my Gollum voice to Andy Serkis' rendering.
Next week: I Learn by Teaching.
Peter T Elliott