Friday, March 21, 2008

Jumping over the Fire

`To the right, the family haft seen.

Every year, on the first day of Spring, Iranians throughout the world set up a table on which appear the seven esses, standing for the seven archangels (ameshspandan): sabzeh, or sprouts, samanu, a sort of wheat pudding which is very hard to make (and which is only present in spirit), seeb, or apple, senjed, the dried fruit of the lotus tree, seer or garlic, somaq, or sumac berries, and serqeh, or vinegar. A mirror, some coins (sekkeh), goldfish (also here in spirit), and a copy of the Iranian holy book, the Avesta, round out the display.

On the evening before the last Wednesday of the year, it is customary for Iranians to jump over the fire, saying "Zardiye man az to, sorkhiye to az man," meaning, "My yellowness to you, your redness to me."

Last night jumping over the humble fire I made in my backyard accompanied by my faithful affectionate friend Omar Khayyam, who had reposed under the step next to my good neighbor Anda, watching the fire with a frightened eyes, I noticed in spite of the horror I went through last year, I do not have that much anger or so many grievances to cast away.

As has been my little ritual, I pack all the dissatisfactions and unkindnesses that, like many, I have had to bear in life and bundle them together to give away safely in the warm glow of the fire on Chaharshnbeh Souri. I let my heart become warmer to all, even toward those who have not opened their heart to me in past. I let the good scent of the burning twigs wipe away the memory of occasional unkindnesses and unpleasantnesses. I even let the smoke rising from the fire cover up those unwanted bitter realities.

This year, although I did not have much in that bundle to give away, I had a heavy bag of good wishes, hopes and prayers for all: for the health of my sister Mariam, my very dear friend Lili, my neighbor’s daughter Ingrid, my in-laws Eugene and June Siegel and, it goes without saying, for my husband Evan.

I bore some dear friends were especially in mind. Cyrus, my dear friend who had been with me through thick and through thin these last thirty-two years, was especially in my mind. He had lost his father just two weeks ago, a very special man, an old National Front combatant, a conscientious journalist, a devote religious man and highly spiritual. My heart is with him and his family in such a hard time. He and his family were certainly in my prayers.

Last year we lost two distinguished Iranian women. Though I was not personally related to them, I still had a memorial salutation (and not a prayer—they were atheist) to them. They both were from the Iranian communist Tudeh party, Jaleh Isfehani, a poetess, and Maryam Firouz, a cousin of our popular prime minister, Dr. Mosaddegh.

Among our other losses were our two goldfishes that had been with us for five years. I got especially attached to them since one of them had some digestive problems and off and on I had to massage its belly; when one cares, love follows. They both had a very sweet disposition which added to their attraction. We lost them this past summer within one week from each other. I could not bring myself to replace them with another one, so this year our Haft seen is without goldfishes.

It also goes without saying that our best wishes go to the entire family and friends and their families, and mine was no exception. They are in my nightly prayers always and I did not neglect them that holy night, either.

Of my bigger extended family, my country, my prayers were for the Iranian reformists. I prayed, and wished for their rebirth, I prayed for the emergence of a Michelangelo, someone with a little creativity, boldness, love, and truthfulness, to carve beauty out of that rock of Iranian political potential.

For my adopted country, the United States, I don’t know which is better or worse, Obama or Hillary. A few steps to the presidency, they are both sinking and dragging each other down. Well, my prayers to both of them. I hope one leaves the other alive, otherwise we will have to live with John “Bomb IranMcCain, who is not in my prayers, never!

Eliot Spitzer was in my mind since his crisis arose. I have quite a feel for him and his wife. I feel even the suffocating feeling of his desire to reach and grab the past and undo it. I hope with the wisdom he has demonstrated in his public life, and the love and care he must have had for his family, that he will be able to look into the situation, to evaluate his thoughts and feelings as to how he did it, if it was worth the suffering, and would he have done it if he would have given it a little thought. I wish him the blessing of the ever presence of Good Mind and Truthfulness, the sure protection against all malice.

Speaking of Eliot Spitzer, I could not stop thinking about these “love ladies”. I’m sure they all have their own stories and I’m sure in time, one way or the other, we understand them, as long as the person involved is not our husband. These love ladies, however, are all part of our society, those who sell love, those who beg love, those who solicit love, and those who offer it freely for a little of companionship, and those who may find a different name for it, all in all, they are doing something that they should not. I do not mean necessarily the business of the body and sex, I mean squeezing themselves into the corner of people’s lives where they do not belong, where they cannot find a proper and peaceful nesting for themselves, and sometimes ruin someone else’ nest as well as career, reputation, and life. I pray for them so they can find something worthwhile in their lives beyond their body to live on. I hope that our new governor will work towards legalizing prostitution, so at least as a profession, it would bring some security to these ladies, as well as open some doors to those who have nothing else to offer, thus reducing its ugliness and breaking its taboos, and hopefully it would not become such a weapon in the hands of a few to ruins people’s lives. It won’t make life prettier, but at least it will reduce much suffering.

Getting back to my little nest and family, I hope we find a job somewhere in Asia or North Africa or South America or even Quebec if McCain becomes president. It is very painful to be in constant fear of violation, stupid talk, meaningless political jargon, hypocrisy, and chants of “We’re Number One!” and even worse, the shame, the shame of being so shameless.

I prayed for Omar Khayyam, and jumped over the fire for him, since he

Iran Writes, Nancy, and Hakim

was afraid to do it himself. I wished him the best of health and prayed particularly that his hearth would become warmer towards our guests, mailmen, Nancy, and Hakim, my domestic helpers, for whose safety, among my friends, I prayed specially.

And finally I wished and called for the Farahvashis to see the glow of my fire, and find their way into our home, and not forget me here in Brooklyn, where there are but very few Iranians, and much less Parsis. I wish, if they do not want to trouble themselves to check in personally, not to forget to bless us for a life full of health, prosperity, good spirit, vitality, humility, and light, and protect us all from Evil.

With my warm wishes for a happy No Rooz to all.

1 comment:

Nazy said...

Mina Joonam:

Eidat Mobarak! I hope the New Year brings you and your family joy, prosperity, and love. I loved reading your Charshanbeh Soori sentiments and thoughts. Nowroozat Pirooz azizam and my best wishes to Evan.