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© 2019 by Pirooz Kalayeh

Day 2: Sometimes I Dream in Farsi

April 26, 2018

Today was an emotional day, but it started out really unemotional.

First, I got a tattoo of "Sometimes I Dream in Farsi" inside a heart I drew. That might sound funny. Let me start again. Voodoo from Voodoo Monkey Tattoo in Rochester gave me a tattoo of a drawing I did of the film's title in a heart.

Such a cool guy and place. I talked about what the film was about -- a doc on me and my films, but also my family coming to America, and then me dealing with racism as a nine year old when this guy kicked me out of a barbershop in Delaware. 

"The tattoo is to to bring this nine year old back into my heart," I said.

 

"I love the concept, man," he said. 

 

And, he really did. There's this amazing thing about people in Rochester. They're so real, you know?

Anyway, after we shot in the tattoo parlor, we went to Starbucks. I didn't even think how there was that incident the other day, but then Aaron reminded me. 

 

"You do know what happened with those two black men?" he chided me.

 

"Oh, man," I said. "I didn't even think about that."

 

We stayed regardless. I was already tired. Not physically. Well, yeah, maybe physically a bit too. But, definitely, emotionally. 

 

Two students, Brooke and Patrick, who volunteered to help on set talked with Aaron and I about their aspirations to be in the entertainment business. Aaron gave them advice about computers and what avenues they could choose. 

 

I was more thinking about the next scene that we had to do.

 

"So what are you going to do exactly?" Brooke asked.

 

"I don't know," I said. "It could go many ways."

Then I told her how everyone was chosen like cast members and not a documentary. That first, my dad and I would get a haircut and talk about the incident. Then, we'd do the Gestalt Therapy and have us all switch places, taking turns being the little kid that experienced the racism, the racist, and then my father. 

Diane of The Barbershop on 768 Monroe Avenue was nice enough to let us have the dialogue, while she cut my hair and then my father's. 

It wasn't about two minutes before I started crying. I went straight into that child in me saying, "I was afraid they were going to take you away!" to my dad. 

 

"I didn't know this incident was so bad for you," my father kept saying. 

Then he went in on how we have to be strong in the face of adversity. After a few minutes, I couldn't take it. I told him that I was just a little kid. I wanted to just be told that he loves me and it's okay. 

 

My dad couldn't do it though. 

 

Then, it all shifted once we started role playing. As soon as my dad played me, and I played him, he broke down. 

Aaron says it was right after he talked about my grandfather experiencing a beating for being a Bahai in Iran by a group of Muslims and he was never the same after that.

 

"How old was he?" I asked my dad.

 

"42," my dad said.

"That's exactly how old I am now," I said. "Imagine that happened to him when he was an adult. Can you imagined when it happened to me when I was nine years old? What did I do wrong? I was just a kid. What could I do to the barber? I wasn't going to hurt him by being Iranian. I was just a sweet and innocent kid."

 

Then I started talking about macho aggressive behavior. That I'm fragile and sensitive and that's okay. I'm a kid. 

 

Stuff like this. 

 

Then my dad broke down.

 Then, we had my student Brooke play me as a kid, and my dad play the barber.

 

"You just have to ask her ethnicity and then tell her to get out," I directed.

 

My dad stood there motionless.

 

"I can't do it," he said. "I just can't say it.

 

Then everyone started crying. 

 

"That's okay, Dad," I said. "Just play it the way you want."

 

"Where are you from?" my dad asked.

 

"Iran," Brooke said.

 

"That's great," my dad said and patted her back. "Welcome."

 

Tomorrow, we're back at it again. 

 

 

 

 

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