My Resilient Shoes
It was early morning when I had gone shoe shopping with my dad. No one ever wanted to go shoe shopping with me when I was a teenager, because it took me so long to choose. But that was a good day: I found a pair of comfy brown shoes with low heels.
The next day was the last day of the summer. In the evening, I put my new shoes on, and dad gave me a ride to my doctor’s appointment. But the traffic was heavy. Cars were bumper-to-bumper and barely moving. Since we were late, I decided to run to my doctor’s office a few blocks away.
As I was running by the cars, I heard the announcement from countless radios: “Attention, attention! The siren you hear is the danger signal. Red alert! Leave at once and repair to your shelters!” All stations stopped their programs to repeat the announcement.
And then the blackout hit. The whole city went dark.
I stopped running. I heard the radio host tell people, his voice shaking, not to panic. But people panicked. He asked people to stop their cars, turn off their lights and stay tuned for further instructions.
Suddenly, I heard horrible noises from above. When I looked up, I saw Iraqi fighter jets. They were greenish-brown. They were flying very low and making huge waves in the air. Then store windows started to shudder and shatter. Pieces of glass struck people who were close by.
I felt something hit the ground a few times, causing a noise as loud as an earthquake.
I saw children, teenagers and adults, young and old, all screaming, crying and running in every direction. People were bumping into each other, stepping over or even on each other as they tried to find a safe place, but there was no safe place. There was no shelter. There was nowhere to go.
I was terrified. I ran back to my father’s car. When I got there, I couldn’t find my dad. I started calling him as loudly as I could while crying and screaming—at last, my dad found me.
It was my first experience of a bombing night in Tehran, and it was the start of the eight years’ war between Iraq and Iran. The bombing could happen three times per day or night. A TV program told the people to sleep with their clothes and shoes on, in case they needed to run away when the bombs hit their homes. That was what I did with my new shoes. I put them on when I went to bed and when I had to run for my life.
For a long time after the beginning of the war, I had odd feelings. I thought that my new shoes had caused all these disasters. So I put them in the closet, and I refused to wear them again. Eventually, my mom gave them away.
Four years ago, at the Eaton Centre, my heart froze when I saw the exact pair of shoes in a shoe store. For a few minutes, I couldn’t blink. I couldn’t breathe. Suddenly, all those bitter memories rushed back, the memories that I had tried so hard to block. It was as if the shoes had hunted me down even here in my new homeland. I decided to buy them again. I needed to overcome the fears and terrors that I was forced to experience.
I put them on again and again until I felt I could move on.
SHEIDA SHAHRAMIAN is from Iran. She moved to Canada in 2003. In her homeland, she taught art in university and worked as a set designer. She is now working for the Toronto District School Board as a Multilingual Team Leader.