approach Norooz, a feeling of nostalgia
and yearning fills my heart. The pain of a past
long gone and the longing for a dear land that I
have not seen for more than two decades but can
still revive its scents in my mind, as if it
were yesterday, sometimes becomes over whelming.
Norooz had a special place in our household, it
was something more than a tradition or ritual,
it was more than a celebration, it was sacred,
we observed it in full fledge. Ignoring a single
element, it was instilled in our minds, could be
bad omen. Norooz was the time of mending the
broken hearts, making up with the ones we had
hurt, extending a helping hand to the ones who
were less fortunate, and a time when doors were
open all day long to family and friends, to the
rich and the poor, and you never were tired to
receive people or to go from one place to the
next and stay for lunch or dinner wherever you
happened, at that hour, to descend ..
Mother fanatically observed every rule and every
custom. From months before Norooz she was
thinking first about everyone's " lebas-e
eid" and then "khooneh takani "
and then baking, with dear Zahra's help, home
made cookies, baklava, sohan, and the rest. A
few weeks before eid, plates of grown wheat and
lentils and ....would be seen on a mantle or a
table, or by the window pane. She might
have decided to change a curtain here, a table
cloth there, or just a set of new dinnerware for
a change. The yard was cleaned, the gardens
plowed, spring flowers were planted, a bunch of
daffodils here, a few jasmines there, and the
outside and the inside of the house would be
painted, with its annual paint.
Though a bit on the chubby side, mother was
truly beautiful, with ivory skin, hazel eyes,
and long chestnut hair, most often bundled with
a pin on the back of her head. Mother was
a perfectionist and quite adamant in her ways.
Nothing made her more uneasy than taking the
traditions lightly or ignoring the trend. She
was the planner of every event, the one to
balance the household budget, the one to oversee
the children with whatever they were doing at a
given day. She was the center of our love and
our awe, the one who had the last word and
usually had to be obeyed. A strong headed,
energetic, strict woman but at the same time the
kindest and the most sensitive of all time and a
perpetual worrier for the things that might go
Father, on the other hand, was the essence of
serenity and peacefulness. He was adored by all,
attracted people's respect with no effort.
A learned educated man for his time but humble
and kind towards a child, a grown up, a beggar
or a king. He would sometimes disappear on a
weekend for an hour or two and when I asked him
"where were you father?" he would say
" nowhere dokhtar jan, just visiting a
friend, " and then immediately he would say
"promise you never forget those who need a
friend" and I did not know what he exactly
meant. It was only after his death that we came
to know the families that he helped.
The children had never even heard him raise his
voice, or impose his thoughts, or pretend as if
he knew it all. He had something that made you
love him and respect him no matter what....
......Friends and family asked his advice, his
words were uttered with such sincerity and
demonstrated such wisdom that it was hard to
The relationship between father and mother
remained loving cordial and cherishing to the
end. When he talked about her, looking at you
with his piercing huge brown eyes, it was pure
admiration "if you only had seen her when
she was young" or "I am sure mother
knows", or "she has an exquisite
taste", and mother's most effective threat
would be " I will tell your
father when he is back", and that was that.
It was amazing how this strong headed extremely
smart knowledgeable woman, revered and respected
her beloved man. HER untold frequent messages to
her children were "be the kindest and the
most humble but also be strong, persevering, and
No matter at what precise time the winter
gathered its wings to fly over the mountains and
oceans and plains to move to the southern
hemisphere and give its place to the caressing
breeze of the spring, we were ready. Be it in
the middle of the night or early in the morning
or late at night, all the lights would be turned
on, all the candles lit, and the aroma of
Esphand could be sensed coming from the kitchen.
We would all run around in haste to take shower,
to put on our new clothes, to blow dry our hair,
to do the last minutes touch up, as if we were
invited to the ball of kings.
A few minutes before Sale Tahvil we would gather
around the table set for Norooz. The Haft Seen
was set in the most beautiful form, flowers here
and there and candles too, mirror and gold fish
and also the holy book. As the radio or TV was
on and we anxiously awaited that moment, father
recited a few verses of Shahnameh or Mathnavi
and mother from Hafez. We really did not hear
anything as our eyes were hooked to the
television or our ears to the radio flow.
As soon as they started the count down, everyone
was silent, our heart beating fast. Ten, nine,
eight,.......and suddenly boom and the
bittersweet sound of the flute which had become
the trend to be broadcasted right after Sale
Tahvil was announced. We would all fly to father
and mother and kissed their hands and they in
their turn would hug and kiss us on the face and
gave us the Norooz gift which was usually some
brand new bills between the pages of the Koran.
Since father was the head of the clan, for the
first three days, they would stay at home.
everyday they had visitors from early dawn until
late at night. We the younger ones would visit
the older ones in our own turn and every
day came back with a bag full of money and
sometimes gold coins.
On the fourth and the fifth father and mother
paid their respect to those who had visited them
in the early days. As you went through the
street you could see groups of people entering
or leaving a house. In small towns and villages
the sight of women and children in their
colorful outfits were quite eye catching and
When we lived in that small town in the north,
one day was set aside for the villagers who came
from the vicinities of the town to visit or the
Turkmen coming from the plains. That day was one
of the happiest days of Norooz for us. Big
samovars were set in the yard and a special room
with a huge dining table covered with candies
and sweets and fruits were set for the visitors
which usually all stayed for lunch.
Another day was set for the poor, who came and
had a cup of tea and some sweets and left with
their gift. I always remember one of them who
passed by our house every night sharp at ten
while singing the saddest song , a few minutes
of silence which meant he was at a neighbors'
door receiving something for the night, then
singing until he reached the end of the
....................and the next day and the
........................and I remember it all, I
remember and remember and remember in my mind
and my heart .
Towards the end, most children were married and
had their own home and Norooz table and so
forth. There were only father and mother, Kian
and Sassan, and I, left at home. Alas now,
the four of them are gone, some died a natural
death and some at their prime.
"Sometimes God picks the flower that is
still in full bloom; sometimes the rosebud is
chosen that we feel He's picked too soon."
maybe they tried to show me the Truth, not to
take anyone, no one for granted.
"maybe Truth was those two young hands,
those young hands
which were buried under the incessant falling
Since in exile, I tried to keep the tradition
alive. I tried to make it as authentic as
possible, partly to observe an important
national identity and partly to do what those
two precious, father and mother, loved us so
much to do. But it is not the same,
it is never the same, and the yearning burns my
heart and the yearning burns my soul and I
suppose I will give the rest of my life to be
there and then with those whom I cherished and
so dearly adored.