I do not have a yellow David star or a Red or White Star & Crescent on my jacket thank you; you have not forced me to wear one, not yet. But I would like to know if you have put one in front of my name?
A day in September I walked through the gates, a brown passport in my hand, a visa stamp, a student, an officer the first average American woman I ever had seen welcome me. She was nice, she was kind, and she did the paperwork but one small detail she left out.
… Ma’am what about fingerprinting?
… Sir, we do not fingerprint students.
… Ma’am Iranian students must be fingerprinted
… I am sure, Sir, we do not require your finger prints,
(Guys in school had already told me: “Do it in the airport if you do not want FBI embarrasses you in School” I was persistent)
…Ma’am, please ask your supervisor, I am sure.
An African-American officer approached, he glanced at us. Lady asked him:
… Are we required to have his finger prints?
Officer glances at passport.
… Yes we do, send him to office
I went to office, he gave them my documents
… somebody will be with you shortly
I waited, another officer showed up. (Why I still remember this so clearly which happened after 24 sleepless hours after these many years) with moustache and glasses.
… This will be one minute
He added gently
… you might not know this, relax your arm
I hold out my arms, he pressed my fingers on a black stamp
…Done, you are done go wash your fingers
My fingertips remained black for rest of the day. I was in; outside the terminal bus driver looked at my hands. Did he know what the darkness meant?
Another September I woke up, some Saudis, some other guys, not any Iranian, crashed a plane into twin towers and into Pentagon. I was horrified. In school food court girls were crying the carefree college students were staring at a curtain showing collapsing towers. Some freezing days later I found myself in another office. I was reporting my presence. I waited for 3 hours, no one was in queue. They were getting their stuff together
… Bear me with me I am new to this whole system.
The lady was struggling, a webcam was malfunctioning, she called someone
…Brad, could you come over here, please
A technician showed up. It was fixed
… your name, phone number
… what do you do?
…I am a student
… What do you study? (This was not in questionnaire, she asked it smiling, these Americans at least are nice, or trying to)
… Smart guy, now your bank account number
I gave it to her
… Credit Card number
I emptied my wallet, I gave her all numbers
… Your closest relative phone number?
… I do not have any family here
… Your girlfriend phone number?
I looked at her, didn’t she know being from Iran was a conversation terminator
… I do not have one
I looked at her, she read it in the stare: “Are you stupid? Don't you know I am considered a freak?”
… wasn’t lucky
Since then I have reported every change of address, I have been searched in airports, I carry all my documents.
Today there was a report about colored ribbons for minorities in my country. It was a hoax, a lie. I am thinking, you have not asked me to wear a badge or a crescent on my jacket. But I wonder if you have put a cross in front of my name in a list somewhere. You have called it a matter of national securit...
By the way could you tell me how much I am spending on coffee? I keep forgetting.