April 17th, 2017
You may not remember me since we haven’t seen each other in many years but I’m you’re cousin Jasmine. I am your mother’s youngest sister’s daughter, we used to play together a lot before your family moved to Tehran almost a decade ago now. As I’m sure you’ve heard, we live in America now and we have been since the end of October last year. I’m sorry that we haven’t written earlier, I know dad said we would keep in touch so it wouldn’t feel like we left at all but things have been hard these last few months.
New York isn’t really how I imagined it would be. It’s not bad, not at all, but it’s been very difficult for all of us to adapt. When I imagined America I imagined all of these big mansions with private pools and endless prosperity but reality hit me hard when my childish and superficial fantasies crumbled one by one. I imagined having everything I’ve ever wanted but so far there’s been nothing but poverty. All of our savings are already gone. Neither one of us could’ve imagined how expensive this city would be. Both mom and dad work two jobs and I had to quit school to take on a part-time job and do only a few correspondence classes through an alternative school so Amir, Erwin and Fatima can go to school.
I want so much to make my dreams come true Tamar. There was nothing left for me in Heshin but at least it was familiar. Here everything is so new and strange and I don’t know anybody, I literally have no friends and I still don’t speak English all that well. I have so many big dreams that I want to pursue and make happen for me and I know that it will take a lot of hard work and perseverance and I hope to get your support because I don’t really have any here at home. My parents are always at work and when they come back they are completely exhausted it’s almost like they are strangers now and Fatima and the twins are much too young to understand or process the full weight of this situation.
The neighbor in our crowded duplex is also tough to deal with. Although our house in Heshin was crowded too at least there was harmony inside. We’re really blessed to all get along so well when some people don’t even speak to their families but right now I need more than that. Derek, the guy next door is noisy and disrespectful and has absolutely no consideration for anyone other than himself. At first he ignored us, then he started calling us towel heads, and now he has no problem harassing us. In just five months I’ve already had to call the police on him twice but they do nothing and the situation hasn’t changed.
I had such high hopes for this new life when I arrived but now I’m discouraged. I’m not giving up though, and I’m not going back. I’ve never wanted anything more than I’ve wanted this and I’m going to pursue it no matter what but of course that is much easier said than done. Although I’m literally surrounded by millions of people I’ve never felt more alone. It’s only really now that I’m discovering the frailty of humanity and all the confusion and contradictions within me when it comes to just who I want to become.
I need a hope for the future. I have so many dreams but for now that’s all they are, dreams. In the face of much adversity I must hold on to the hope that one day they will all come true because otherwise I have nothing good to live for and I might as well just kill myself right here, but at the same time I don’t wanna die here. I don’t wanna die in this dirty and dark place in which I am writing this letter right now. When I close my eyes for the last time I want to do it with a smile on my face knowing that I’ve lived a good life and accomplished everything I set out to do. The thought of it is so beautiful, but I must open my eyes and turn this into a reality.
How are you and your family doing? It doesn’t seem like we’ll be able to come and visit you for a while unfortunately. You are all however welcomed to come by and see us at any time as it would be wonderful to see some familiar faces. Have you completed college yet? The last I heard you wanted to be a nurse, if that’s what you ended up pursuing after all. I know how sometimes there’s so much we want to do that it’s hard to choose just one thing to chase after at a time. As for me it doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to study law in the near future but I want to take the opportunities America is giving me to become a writer.
I hear that it’s very easy to get published here as long as you take the right approach. I know I’m getting ahead of myself because I don’t even have a single word written yet but at least that door has opened here in New York. I don’t seek fame and fortune (although I’ll admit it would certainly be very nice to get out of poverty and be able to afford a proper education for myself and my siblings), I only really want to accomplish a lifelong dream. Remember when we used to write little screenplays as kids at your paternal grandma’s house?
For now I don’t really know what else to say, I feel like I’m only repeating myself and I don’t want this to be all about me, so I’m going to end this short letter now and put it in the mail tomorrow. I hope to hear back from you soon and I hope that you have some good news to share with me.
Much love and blessings,