A poverty and marginalisation story of an Ahwazi family
"In the Mohammara(Khoramshahr), it is as if I witness a historical scene."
This house is known to me. A few years ago when I passed this street, I saw an elderly man who was selling cigarettes in a stall. I saw this house in the area of Aria, embedded with 70’s architecture, the first porch almost in ruins. A 70-year old woman by the name of Shakeeba was sitting on the porch, smoking upwards towards the sky as her mind was infested with worries and pain. She struggled to speak Persian with ease, and often traded her words with Arabic alternatives. I understood from her words that she has had an operation on her heart, which has been causing her a lot of physical pain and distress. They had been living in this almost-destroyed house for 20-years, even though she had admitted that the house was not of her possession. She had been living her with her late-husband, children, in-laws and grandchildren. The landlord was a good person, she had told me, and they weren’t force to pay for their stay. However he had eventually sold that piece of land to another person and that new landlord was demanding rent from them. Inside the house, the death of her husband was very evident; his area seemed to be deserted even though he passed away about two and half years ago. One of Shakeebas grandchildren, Ayat, who was in the fourth-grade was translating for us, she learns Persian at school. Ayat explains to us that her grandma feels tearful reminiscing about her marriage 60 years ago in this very area, the Mohammara, during the Shah era. Her late-husband was working in Kuwait in a printing office. Due to the 1979 revolution and the war, they fled the Mohammara and searched for safety in Ahwaz, her emotions pouring at her memories. It was as if she was telling me a historical love story. With her un-stoppable emotions she explained how her husband had sold the cigarette stall to help pay for her heart-operation, wiping away her tears with her traditionally worn Abaya. She flattered her husband, boasting of his good nature. They were so in love and loyal to each other, expressing a true form of friendship. The sincerity of her husband is what is keeping this unwell woman alive now.
Ayat, Shakeebas granddaughter does very well at school; she speaks with the dialect of the people of Mohammara. She manages her two younger siblings, Karrar and Ghahar aged 7 and 8. Ayat was living with her grandmother and her two uncles in this very house. And when her grandfather passed away, her uncles went their separate ways. Ayat’s father is a driver, he works with a contractor, and her young mother is pregnant and expecting a child soon. As Ayat translated the number 60 to her grandmother, she thinks of her long-lasting marriage. It seems that Shakeebas story is one of many in the Mohammara, and it seems as though there will be even more in the future.