We decided to take the metro in Tehran. You might be surprised to find out that it’s not any different from the one back home, in Singapore. K was the one who led the way. Once the train arrived, she hopped in. In a flash the train filled up like a boiling kettle. A man, seeing that we had been separated, looked at me calmly and nodded, as if to say, don’t worry, I’m here. And so this silent hero pushed the thrashing doors back with his bare hands and summoned the crowd in front us to push back. And lo and behold, space was magically created. And that is how we got on, me and J, almost cheek to cheek.
When the rest of the train discovered that they were in the presence of 3 foreign women, everyone made even more space for us.I looked back to find our silent hero to thank him, only to find a wall of people between us. I took out the Singapore pin that I always have on me and asked the people between us to pass it to him. Before I could say, ”Thank you for the…” a fist appeared from behind the men in front of me. It was the Silent Hero’s hand. The fist opened into a palm bearing 3 sweets. I laughed and so did he, from behind the men.
At the next stop, me and J got off the train, thinking that it was our stop. The train immediately bustled into a frenetic flurry, informing K that we were out and so should she! It became her turn to panic, “No! No! Get them back! We are not there yet!” Just when me and J were gasping for fresh air just beyond the train doors, we found 18 Iranian men frantically waving at us, yelling, ”Bia! Bia!” * When we dashed back into the train just before the doors closed behind us, the whole carriage erupted as if we were long lost friends.
This was not my first time to Iran. And yet it was just as magical as the first. I will always remember the time I met you. If I had to choose, it would always be you, over the most extraordinary view. Because you and I may never be at the same time in the same place like this ever again. It’s never about the places but the faces that make the journey. The Golestan Palace was magnificent. But I would give it up any day, for my Silent Hero and his army of 18.
* “Bia” in Farsi means “come”.