Why did we bury the ashes?
By Nedda Sarshar
Because in the last year of his life, my grandfather dreamt
of mulberry trees and freshwater wells engrained in mountain sides.
Because in the garden, he planted
banafshehs and nana that my grandmother boiled for chai .
Because in the little apartment on Yonge and North York, there were only the sounds
of passing cars and the waft of leftovers thrown out in the lot.
Because no one else in the neighbourhood could make their tomatoes grow.
He said it was because they did not know to love their dirt.
Because he had suspected long before the diagnosis it was dementia,
his handwriting unrecognizable and head full of fog.
Because he spent his youth in caves eating noon and sour cherry jam,
watching sunsets on mountain peaks his grandchildren would never see.
Because he had stopped speaking Farsi , and grew irate
when I could not respond to his slurred and country Azeri .
Because he taught me to play chess on the handmade marble board
in the garden while the sparrows sang overhead.
Because by the end he called me by mother’s name,
stopped calling me Naz Khanoom, Naz Khatoon when I walked in.
Because I used to love to pick the cucumbers he sliced for salade Shirazi ,
consumed with salmon and saffron sprinkled berenge , my fingers sticky and tinted red.
Because he told my grandmother they should never have come to Canada,
and that he wanted to die in Maragheh, in the valleys with forgotten names.
Because I once watched him follow a single vine until he uncovered
the massive eggplant hidden between the thick trunk and fence.
Because he saved the eggplant and hung it from his wall, and I got it
when we went to empty the apartment the day after after after—
Because after we buried his ashes, I dreamed that we met in the garden and he
looked at my face and said that he wished he could remember me.
Nedda Sarshar is an emerging Iranian-Canadian writer based in the Greater Toronto Area. Her writing has been published in PRISM International, Room Magazine, and This Magazine. Most recently, her nonfiction piece was long-listed for Room's 2020 Short Form Contest. She was a participant in the 2018 Banff Emerging Writers Intensive, and is a mentee of the esteemed Chelene Knight. She enjoys writing about diasporas, identity-crisis' and star-crossed lovers.