The smell of saffron, dreams and howls.
Diary extracts 27.10.2006:
We have been away in Switzerland and France, travelling on trains with Leo and Delia. It was quite a journey, inside and out. On returning home, from sunny southern France to the heavy rain of Lewes, we noticed some small lilac shoots in the front garden which we overturned this summer after pulling up a dying rosebush which was taking it over. Kate next door told me, with a spooky undertone, that they are saffron crocuses – crocuses in autumn? A small gift from mum: I pulled out the saffron stamen from one and rolled it between my fingers until they went deep yellow then took a deep sniff. They are the exact kind Mum and I saw in Mashad when we travelled to Iran in 1992- a memory of the smell of saffron, burnt crimson bunches in huge, shiny glass jars, lodged on shelves in immaculate white and mirrored stores came back to me. She grows all around me, in nature and through it..
And this extract, which must have been written during the first week after the Tsunami (as I remember having the dream mentioned) but for some reason was only written up much later. I’m aware how high my expectation of myself and my future mothering was, enhanced by the grief of losing my mother at the same time I had become one.
Dreams all around us – saying goodbye (from journal 19.2.2006)
Delia, I dreamt about mum again (what a time..). Me, simon, fariba, farid and Reg (her boyfriend who survived) and Mum were all together in Thailand. I was out there teaching an art class. It was Mums birthday, March 19th – and we wanted to celebrate. She was spending time with Simon and I knew it would be her last night and we would find her dead the next morning. She lay down in a round rowing boat, very sleepy and I tried to keep her awake so she would talk and say goodbye. But she was already asleep. Then, the next day, we went down to the waterfront and she was in the rowboat spinning around on the water, the size of a tealite candle (she used to love those). She was kneeling with her hands clasped above her head, dead but smiling. I started howling ‘Mama, mama’ and wanted to reach the boat but couldn’t, it just kept spinning.
I woke up crying ‘Mama’ with you, Delia in my arms. You are smiling. And Leo kissing me and crying too. In the dream, mum died in her sleep. I suppose that is the closest I may come to seeing her body. They are DNA testing 7000 bodies in Thailand at the moment. It will take 250 days. But I will keep her alive for you Delia. She had so much love and energy to give you and I will honour her by always loving and giving you all I can, taking you to Iran when the time is right, and keeping Persian culture alive in your life. When she held you in her arms just after you came into the world, Keri your godmother said that she seemed totally, utterly fulfilled – you were a dream of hers for many years, finally manifested. In a conversation with Simon, your uncle, when he commented that she must be excited at the prospect of seeing you grow up, she said soberly ‘the main thing is to see her born’.