when love conquers war

by Kayla Giset

audio: read by the author

This story can be limited by the confinements of a gloomy, sunless day in Tehran, Iran, the sky’s coal-black clouds denoting the indisputable fear in the air; there was a revolution on its way, after all. However, in times where the regime change was merely a question too frightening to answer, days like this could only be found in the fluff of history textbooks. 

It was 1979 when my mother escaped. Pop cassette tapes ran on repeat at a deafening volume inside the 9-year-old’s walkman as she strolled down the schoolyard, rows and rows of high rises cloaking a beautiful blue sky. The air was still— not in reassurance, but rather, as if it was preparing for a storm; and indeed, a vicious storm was approaching: the Iranian monarchy was being overthrown by an Islamic dictatorship. This revolution had rippled in waves: it took people time to not only grasp, but also come to terms with the sacrifice and resilience needed to start a new life in an entirely new place, whether it meant staying in Iran or relocating. On this misleadingly calm day, my grandfather had brilliant intuition in knowing that a complete overthrow of the government was afoot, and he managed to get my mother, uncle, and grandmother to Spain in time; it would take him another year to reunite with them again. Oh, how the weather can be so deceiving. 

Who could imagine that just a little ways away was a tiny country that would prove to be the adversary to Iran’s imperious regime. My father, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, was born and raised in the small state of Israel. Although miniscule in size and population, the creation of this country protected the victims of the war who yearned for a home. The foundation of the nation served as precedent for the generations that would follow by prioritizing kindness and hard work, part of the reason why it opposed Iran’s revolution so strongly. After serving in the Israeli army for three years, my father found opportunity in the United States, a land of new beginnings, and built a T-Shirt business from the ground up. He met my mother on one particularly rainy afternoon, immediately discerning that he had found both a business partner and a partner for life.

“Despite it all, through the storm and even through the sun, love will prevail. Love will always conquer war.”

I never questioned my parents’ love story. It felt like a hand-written masterpiece from a Hollywood blockbuster: two lovers who shared a dream and made it a reality. What I didn’t realize, however, was that there is more to this picture-perfect film. Behind it all was a history of unforgiving, relentless conflicts between my mother and father’s home countries, a struggle that simply couldn’t be put behind them. This sense of animosity lingered, an invisible shackle that created just the slightest bit of pull between the two, yet still unwilling to give in. In spite of this, the business gave them a reason to fight it. The American Dream, an idea viewed by many countries in the Middle East as unreachable, was achieved—years worth of hatred were put behind through the power of love. And that, to me, was astonishing.

From my parents, I learned perseverance. In times where life seemed bleak, when differences came in the way of success, a strong work ethic would always pave the pathway for prosperity. From my parents, I learned passion. In growing their business from a mere store to a working establishment, my mother and father exhibited the result of putting one’s entire heart into a project. From my parents, I learned sacrifice. Decades ago, my mother escaped a country facing a revolution that would remove her rights entirely; my father risked it all to achieve the presumably “unachievable” American Dream. As I continue to grow into my own person, the immense sacrifices made by my parents will always be a part of me. And finally, from my parents, I learned love. 

As the years wisp by one after the other, there will come days with not a cloud in sight; there will also come days of great pain—days that carry the agony and misery of the past through thunder, lightning, and gray clouds. Despite it all, through the storm and even through the sun, love will prevail. Love will always conquer war.


Kayla Giset (grade 11)

My name is Kayla Giset, and I am a junior at AHS! If I’m not writing prose or reading fantasy novels, you will most likely find me binge-watching Marvel movies and psychological thrillers (and even reviewing them on my blog, The Cinemagazine). I play an active role in student government as Secretary, and I’ve recently started competing with our MUN team. My life revolves around all types of language, such as English, Chinese, Farsi, and Hebrew, and I can’t imagine my world without being immersed in their respective cultures. Thanks for reading!

what motivated you to write this piece?

My parents’ love story is one that I’ve known and cherished for a while, but there were certain nuances that I felt could only be captured through a piece of literature. The conflicts faced in the Middle East and specifically in my home countries of Iran and Israel have been ongoing for decades, and in writing this piece, I wanted to invoke hope and courage for those who are still struggling with finding a sense of place and hope when all seems lost.

What artists and/or writers inspired or influenced your work?

Joyce Carol Oates has been one of my biggest inspirations since freshman year. Although her work consist of fiction and horror, the manner in which she develops her setting and internal conflicts has always been extremely interesting and inclines the reader to read again and again to find more hidden details. Oates’ voice is always extremely prevalent within her pieces through carefully chosen diction and shifts in tone, which is why I utilized such vivid imagery in my narrative to convey a serious message.

what is your ideal writing environment?

Chaos, chaos, chaos! There is absolutely no way I would be able to write without the havoc of the outside world. Most of my best work comes out as I sit in the corner of a party with my notes app out, or even during a movie when the “hazzah” moment is just too great not to jot down right away. Ironically, when all goes silent, my thoughts do too; that’s why I love to surround myself with family, friends, and many distractions to unwind my mind and start the writing process.