Kimia Maleki

26 June 2020

Across the World in Forty Hours

At Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport you come out into the arrivals hall not through an opaque set of automatic doors but down an escalator. You can see the people waiting expectantly below, watching as you descend. When I returned to Tehran last month, however, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the airport was empty. I tried to imagine the hall crowded, as it should be. Of the few people I saw, most were wearing facemasks. My suitcase had been wet when I took it off the carousel. ‘Is it raining?’ another passenger asked. Then we saw a man in a red and yellow uniform spraying the luggage with disinfectant. My journey from Toronto had lasted forty long hours, through deserted airports in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Before that I had spent fifty days alone in a deserted city where I knew no one; the only person I had known in Toronto was killed in January.

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