I am half Italian and half Iranian, born and raised in Italy.
When I was 9 years old, my parents divorced and shortly after,
my mother, returned to Iran. This year I decided to take a trip to
Teheran, where I met my mother and half of my family.
Milan, April 24, 2013, three days to the start of my journey.
I always felt like I was split in two halves. One is that all the people who are close to me know. The other has been left behind,, still, waiting.. In a box I found a picture off that moment.. It’s an historic moment, but not one of those that one can find in the books, because no one cares about it. It’s important to me. Now I know also the exact date, not the day, but it doesn’t matter. She and I, smiling. Siting at a table, with some men chatting behind us. I don’t know where we were. I see some low buildings that I don’t recognize. It was hot. I don’t remember, but I can tell from the fact that I had a short-sleeved shirt. She didn’t. She was well covered. But she couldn’t do otherwise. I have a serene look under a pair of oval glasses with a metal blue frame. I look straight into the camera, she does too. Since then we have not met, and almost never spoken. I flip the picture. A pen writing. The handwriting is that of my mother: “TEHRAN, June 1998”.
For years, I’ve struggled. For years, I felt grudge and confusion in my mind. Sometimes I talked about it, but it didn’t work. Time. I needed time. One day the phone rings. It’s been so long since the last time that number appeared on the display. I’m on the highway, at a service station. I was going to go back in the car and start the engine. I answer. It’s my mother. Quite naturally she asks me “how are you?”. I do not know how to reply, what to say. The conversation is finally over. I’m confused and I think I spoke very little. I don’t recall what I said. But I remember how I felt.
It was a day in December 2011, shortly before her birthday, she was born on Christmas. It’s been over a year since we spoke for the last time. During the following months I’ve had some difficult times, and she knows it. Or at least I think so. The phone calls between us started to intensify. Which means one every two or three months. I discussed about it with my father. Several times and for long. As always he gave me good advice. I made up my mind. I want to see her again to talk about everything. I do not know what this all is, but I want to talk to her looking straight into her face.
I take courage and I tell her that I want to meet with her and I want to talk. She is surprised, confused, but says it’s okay.
She decides to come to Italy. I am shocked and frightened by the thing. I talk to my father and my brother. She has never come to Italy since she left, about twenty years ago. She did not come back for my brother’s wedding. She did not come back for the birth of my nephew. I never forgave her for this. I ponder for a long time and I realize that I must be the one to go there. I have to deal with that part of me that has been paralyzed since 1998. I need to rediscover my roots, my past, the family that I left there. My grandfather died. I loved him a lot. I started playing music thanks to him. I wished I could have come back sooner or later to show him my improvements, but I can no longer do so. I still have so many people there that want to know and understand before losing them. My grandmother, my uncles and aunts, my cousins, and of course her.
We decided the departure day. She carries out all the paperwork for the invitation, I go to the consulate to get the visa. When I leave, my fingertips are all black with ink. I look at them for a few minutes. In a few day I will receive my passport with one more stamp on its pages. It’s sunny outside and it is oddly warm for the season. I look forward and I set off for home. In a month I will be on a plane that will take me back to 15 years ago.
About the photographer: Masiar Pasquali was born in 1983 to an Italian father and an Iranian mother. He grew up in Follonica, a seaside town in Tuscany. At 18 he moved to Milan, where he currently lives and works. He has worked as a tour manager for the most relevant Italian songwriters. In the last years he started his career as professional photographer in the fields of music, theatre, movies, dance, and for several events. He also shoots portraits and still life pictures. In the last year he has been developing an interest mostly in documentary and reportage photography. His works have been exhibited in several personal and collective exhibitions in important art galleries and contemporary art festivals.