Tuesday, June 12, 2012


One of my favorite people on this trip has been Roya, Omid's daughter. But I hear "jan" attached the end of their names so often that it has all melded into one word for me. I think of them, now, as Roya-jan, Omid-jan, Nausheen-jan, etc. "Jan" means soul or life force, and is used in a context similar to "dear." So, when addressing someone  you love, you add "jan" to their name. More than once, when I have said Yagmur's name to get her attention, she has responded with "janam?"

This is equivalent to, "My dear?" or, more literally (and beautifully), "My soul?"

I am not from a culture where this term of endearment is the norm, and yet, I feel deeply inclined to use it. So, I've begun to, a bit. At least with Roya, because it flows so well.

Roya is only eleven, but she is, by far, one of the smartest "kids" I've ever met. Calling her a kid feels wrong, somehow. She's more mature than that. Young lady seems more fitting. I have had the honor, on this trip, to be occasionally graced by her precocious company. She absorbs everything we say, everything we see. She often picks up on details of places that my distracted mind passes by. She is incredible in every way, without losing that essential love of life present in every child. She cracks jokes and loves Magnum bars, sings Adele and Lady Gage like she is an award winning recording artist, and lectures often on the dangers of smoking. She is more powerful and beautiful than she knows, and I feel so lucky to have witnessed even two weeks of her growth as a human.  

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