The 8th Almond Blossom

 

Fariba Kalhour

 

 

 

 

 

Naba cultural organization

 

 

‏، ف‍ری‍ب‍ا،۱۳۴۰ ک‍ل‍ه‍ر

Kalhor, Fariba : سرشناسه

 

‏ The 8th almond blossom‏‫‭/ Fariba Kalhor. : ‏‫‭ عنوان و نام پديدآور

‏ Tehran‏‫‭: Naba Cultural Organization‏‫‭, 2008‏‫‭=1387. : ‏‫‭ مشخصات نشر

‏ فیپا : وضعیت فهرست نویسی

انگلیسی : يادداشت

‏ ایتز آمند… : آوانویسی عنوان

‏ ع‍ل‍ی‌ ب‍ن‌ م‍وس‍ی‏‫، (ع)‬، ام‍ام‌ ه‍ش‍ت‍م‌، ۱۵۳؟ – ۲۰۳ق. — داستان : موضوع

‏ BP۴۷/۳۵‏‫‭/ک۸ ‮الف‬۹ ۱۳۸۷ : ‏‫‭ رده بندی کنگره

‏۲۹۷/۹۵۷ : ‏‫‭ رده بندی دیویی

‏ ۱‎۶‎۲‎۲‎۴‎۴‎۲ : ‎ شماره کتابشناسی ملی

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 8th Almond Blosssom

Author: Fariba Kalhour

No. of Copies: 2000 / First Edition: 2009

Address: 3rd Floor, No. 26, Adibi Alley,

Shabestari St., Shariati Ave., Tehran, Iran

Address: P. O. Box: 15655-377/ Tehran. Iran

E-mail: Info@NabaCultural.org

ISBN:978-964-8323-69-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This woman is “Pasandeh”. She is moving round the almond tree freely and lightly just like a butterfly; she touches the blossoms of the tree and says, “I am Pasandeh.” “Pasandeh” is my name. But I had another name once! Oh God what was my name?

“Did she really forget her previous name, or she got so used to her new name, that she really didn’t want to recall her former name?”

Almond blossoms were swaying in the breeze. She touched one of the blossoms with her old and trembling fingers and said “How soft and fragile! As if, wind had turned itself into a blossom. It is only 3 months that you are planted, and you are already in full blooms!” Pasande said to the tree.

A sound came out of the sky. She raised her head and watched the sky that was entirely blue and bright. The scarf on her head slid down to reveal a bunch of white hair. A white bird appeared from far distance in the sky, and landed on the almond tree and started singing.

The breeze was blowing and fluttering the bird’s feathers and Pasande’s white hair. Sunlight spread over the bird and Pasande. She said eagerly: “Lucky you the sun, bird and the wind. You can go and look at wherever and whomever you wish. But look at me. So old I am; Old, feeble, and captivated on the earth.”

A little girl’s voice said from the top of the stairs of the balcony: “Every morning that I get up, I hear your voice talking to the tree!”

This was Khadijeh. She was the 10 year old granddaughter of Pasandeh, who came to stay a few days with her grandmother. Khadije walked down the short steps. The breeze passed the scent of the almond blossoms, through the little girl’s hair. Pasande looked at her beautiful eyes and said: “How beautiful you are my little girl, as beautiful as the almond blossoms.”

Khadijeh: “What were you talking to the tree?”

Pasandeh answered: “Everything! My dear little girl, a miracle has happened in my life.”

Khadijeh touched the slim tree and said:

“This tree is the miracle of your life. Isn’t it?”

Pasandeh nodded and put her ear onto the tree and said: “listen! This tree is breathing just like us. Its chest is moving up and down.”

Khadijeh also put her ear to the tree and after a while desperately said “I can not hear anything.”

Pasandeh said: “You will; one day you will hear. When you are old enough to realize that it is very rare to have miracles in ones life, then you can hear this tree’s breathing. It’s as though there is the Imam’s heart inside this tree. Listen!”

Khadijeh smiled at her and said: “I am happy that I was here that day. I met Imam, and now I know what you are talking about.”

Pasandeh: “I swear that Imam had the smell of almond blossoms. When he took his first step into this house, it was as if 8 almond trees grew here in my house. It was so real that I could not believe that no tree had ever grown, when I turned my head.”

Khadijeh: I met Imam; he dug the ground with his hands, and planted the young tree.

Pasandeh smiled and looked at the bird, and then at khadijeh’s long and silky hair. “And you watered the tree”, Said Pasandeh.

Khadijeh: “Yes! I washed Imam’s dusty hands. You are right grandmother; he had the smell of Almond.”

“Smell of God.” Pasandeh whispered to herself.

Khadijeh watched the white bird that was flying over the tree and said, “Grand mum, I am a little girl. I don’t want to forget all that happened. I don’t want to forget Imam’s smell, his dusty hands and his sad eyes. I always want to remember everything.”

Pasandeh sat under the tree. She liked the silent and peaceful shadow of the leaves and blossoms.

Khadijeh sat down beside Pasandeh and started playing with the folds of her skirt.

Pasandeh said: “From the day Imam Reza (p.b.u.h.) entered this house, I cannot live without dreaming him. I always dream that he is opening door and bringing in a bunch of almond blossoms. The air is filled with the scent of blossoms. When I wake up, I can still smell the scent.”

Khadijeh said playfully, “So the scent that I smell every morning is the smell of the tree you had been dreaming of!”

Pasandeh patted the girl’s silky hair and said “That is the smell of my expectation. Expectation to see Imam again.”

“Is Imam sad in your dreams as well?” Khadije asked.

Pasandeh replied, “He is always sad.”

Imam is sad because he was passing the hardest days of his life in Mamoon’s palace. From the day that Mamoon took power, some of the Muslims opposed him, claiming that it was Imam Reza who has the right to govern, since he was an innocent Imam, who knew how to establish a just state.

Mamoon, who was afraid of public revolution, consulted his minister, and finally decided to invite Imam Reza from Medina to Marv, and appoint him as his successor, in order to satisfy the Muslims, and quiet down refusals and disorders.

It was an enchanting journey from Medina to Marv. During every stop in towns or villages, people gathered to welcome Imam and requested him to say some hadith (traditions).

Imam Reza then entered Nishabour city on a litter covered with Jasmines. Many people wanted to see him, and hear his voice. When the attendants pulled aside curtains of the litter, people cried with happiness: “Tell us a hadith (story) about the Prophet Mohammad, or about your noble forefathers. We want to keep it as a memory of you.” The people asked Imam Reza.

Imam Reza then narrated the most interesting tradition he had ever heard. He heard this tradition from his father, and his father from the father and… the Messenger (p.b.u.h.) from Gabriel.

 

 

 

God told Gabriel,

 

“The phrase there is no God but Allah is the gate to my castle. Whoever says and believes in the, has entered my castle, and who enters my castle will be safe from my punishment.”

The litter was about to leave, that Imam added, “And there are certain conditions; the important one is acceptance of my leadership and guardianship; for I am the innocent Imam, and son of the Messenger.”

At that day 24000 persons wrote down this hadith (narrative) in order to keep it for the future generations.

Imam was tired. He needed somewhere to rest. People were trying to invite Imam to his house.

An old woman who was standing beside the door of an old and shabby house, holding her granddaughter’s hand in her’s. She was waiting to see Imam.

“Would it be possible that Imam comes to my home?” She thought.

The little girl squeezed her grandmother’s hand excitedly and said, “I wish Imam came to our home.”

The men who surrounded Imam were strong and wouldn’t let the old woman to get closer to Imam.

The old woman said to herself: “My home is very old; he would never accept my invitation.”

Imam opened his way through the crowd towards the old woman. Having seen Imam’s face, the old woman felt young again. The little girl smiled and hid herself behind her grandmother.

Imam whispered something and entered the house, whose owner was later named Pasandeh (selected) afterwards, as Imam selected her plain house for his short stay.

Khadijeh: “There are 3 more days left until Eyd Fitr.”

Pasandeh: “And the branches of the tree are full of almonds.”

Khadijeh: “I wish we could go to Marve and take some gifts to Imam. A gift that could make him happy. It is in fact developed from his gift to us.”

A mysterious light brightened the old woman’s eyes. She pulled Khadijeh towards herself and asked “What gift? What do you mean?”

Khadijeh, whose lips were dry and pale because she was fasting, said: “Almonds, a handful of almonds, an armful of almonds, or maybe a lot of almonds.”

Pasandeh said, “How nice hearted you are my little girl. But the world is not as good as you thought it to be. Imam Reza is already a Prince. He is Mamoon’s successor. It is not easy to meet him. He is being guarded by plenty of guards and agents.”

Khadijeh became sad. She put her head on her knees and began to think.

The white bird was watching her through the leaves of the tree. Pasandeh was walking in the yard impatiently.

Khadijeh suddenly started and said: “If we send him a message; if we remind him that a little girl washed his dusty hands; if we remind him that a kind grandmother brought a towel for him to dry his hands; if we remind him that he had planted a young tree in our house; and if we remind him that he selected our house to stay, still would it be impossible to meet him?”

Pasandeh smiled and walked towards Khadijeh, who was sitting under the tree. Khadijeh stood up. Pasandeh hugged her and said, “In this case, my dear little girl Imam would definitely invite us to his house, even if Mamoon is personally against this reception.”

Khadije asked: “Then when….”

The door bell interrupted her. Somebody was knocking the door anxiously. Khadijeh opened the door. A woman rushed into the yard and went towards Pasandeh and cried: “Help me. My son is dying.”

Trying to sooth her, pasandeh said: “Calm down. Calm down…what happened to your son?”

She said: “My son is ill.”

Pasandeh: “I know…I heard about it before. Hasn’t he become better yet?”

“No, he has got worst. Doctors do not have much hope in result of treatments. Then she passed out in Pasandeh’s arms.”

Pasandeh asked Khadijeh to bring some water. Khadijeh who was bewildered at woman’s behavior, came to herself and brought some water. When Pasandeh tried to give her water, she opened her eyes and refused: No thanks, I do not drink, I am on fast. My son is ill. Doctors say there is no hope.

Pasandeh consoled her and said, “Don’t say that. Don’t lose your hope.”

The woman said: “I won’t. Last night I dreamed that this almond tree had grown so big that its branches were creeping over the other houses. The tree became as big as the world and its branches crept over every house. How do you explain this Pasandeh? I dreamed that my son held up his hand, and picked an almond and ate it, and then another one, and another one after that. When he ate the 8th almond he got well; stood up and mounted on his wooden horse, and started riding his wooden horse in the yard. Do you believe it Pasandeh? My son is at the same age as Khadijeh. He recovered in my dream by this tree. Can you believe it?”

Weeping happiness tears Pasandeh replied: “It’s better to say that he was cured by Imam Reza.”

The woman who looked more hopeful, then requested “Do me a favor Pasandeh, and give me some almonds; just as many as is necessary for my son’s recovery.”

Pasandeh said: “This tree does not belong to me. It belongs to him; to the whole world. Didn’t you see in your dream that every one had a branch of it in his house?”

And then Pasandeh turned to Khadijeh and said: “My dear little almond picker, pick almonds as much as you can; and you unfortunate woman bring your skirt. I am sure that there is a meaning for your dream. Dream of a faithful woman like you at these last nights of Ramazan must have a meaning. Come closer and take remedy for your son; his name is Ahmad. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, I myself selected his name. I wish my Ahmad gets well.” The woman said.

Khadijeh was picking Almonds hastily. The white bird also was pecking an almond and dropped it into the woman’s lap.

Pasandeh struck a few almonds with her stick onto the ground and smiled.

“My son will be all right. I made a vow that I would take my son to Marv to stand behind Imam in the prayer ceremony, if he becomes well.” The mother said.

Pasandeh leaned on her stick and asked: “What prayer?”

The woman replied: “Prayer of Eyd-e-Fitr1.” Don’t you know? Mamoon asked Imam to perform Eyd-e-Fitr prayer.”

Pasandeh looked at Khadijeh. And the white bird looked at both of them. Then the woman said: “That is enough. If my dream had a meaning, then 8 almonds should be enough.”

Pasandeh mumbled: “8th almonds means in the name of 8th Imam.” Then looked at Khadijeh again, whose lips were dry but smiling.

The woman wished God blessings for them and left quickly.

Khadijeh said: “Did you hear?”

Pasandeh replied: “What do you mean?

I am talking about the prayer of Eid-e-fitr.” Khadijeh answered.

The white bird came down and landed on Pasandeh’s stick without any fear.

Fascinated by the white bird Pasandeh said: “God has opened the way before us Khadijeh. We will go to Marv.”

And then some raped almonds fell to the ground near her. The white bird flied away from the stick and sat on khadijeh’s shoulder.

Pasandeh suggested: “Let us think that this white bird is Imam’s messenger, who came here to invite us to Marv.”

Khadijeh said: “What a sweet idea?” And then turned towards the bird and said, “We accept invitation of our lord, and would come to Marv.”

For a few days Mamoon’s palace was crowded by couriers. Like white and black birds, couriers were coming and going between Mamoon’s palace and Imam Reza house.

Imam Reza took the messege to Mamoon, “Imam says I have accepted to be the prince provided that I don’t get involved in governmental affairs.”

Mamoons black courier took this message to Imam Reza (p.b.u.h): “Mamoon says that. I just want to assure people that you are a prince. I want them to realize your value and importance.”

Imam Reza said, All right. I will perform Eyd-e-Fitr Prayer. But there is a condition.

Mamoon laughed and thought, “Does he have any other choice than obeying my orders?”

Imam Reza said, “To perform Eyd-e-Fitr prayer, I want to leave my house in the same way as the Prophet Mohammad, and Imam Ali did.”

Mamoon keeps on laughing and send a message to him, “It is up to you, you may leave your house in any way you wish. You just perform Eyd-e-Fetr prayer.”

A day before Eyd-e-Fitr, after the call for prayer(recite of Azan) two women, a little girl and a boy, together with a young man, trailing two white horses, left Nishabour city, and started a journey towards the endless desert. They were Pasandeh, Khadijeh, Ahmad who had just recovered from a long illness and his parents. Ahmad was walking ahead and was trailing one of the white horses. His mother said: “Mount the horse my son. You have just come out of the bed.”

“Listen to your mother Son of the Almond” Pasandeh addressed the boy. “It’s better for you.”

But Ahmad was walking ahead, turning back some times, laughing without any reason and some times he was walking so fast that made his mother panic. She was trying to stop him from running so fast, but his father who was calm and patient soothed her down and said, “No… Let him show his regained health.”

Mother became calm and watched her son who had just recovered from an illness; but he was quick and strong. Khadijeh, who was walking along the soft and hot sands of the desert was listening to these conversations silently and was thinking about the name grandmother has selected for Ahmad, “Son of the almond”.

Father said: “God willingly we shall arrive in Marv tomorrow before prayer ceremony.”

Mother said: “We should not lower our speed, otherwise…”

Pasandeh said: “Don’t worry; we will arrive in time. It is not really a very long way to Marv.” And dug her stick in soft soils as she continued walking.

Father said to Khadijeh: “Why don’t you get on the horse? You must be very tired.”

Khadijeh accepted and mounted the horse. It was then when she saw the white bird appearing from the distance.

She said: “The bird grandmother, the bird…”

The white bird landed on the horse’s head to rest.

Khadijeh said: “Now you and me can talk.”

It was night, and Imam was alone; Alone and sad. From the day that he was informed that Mamoon was not going to change his mind, Imam became sadder. He did not like to get involved in governmental affairs. If he was performing Eyd-e-Fetr prayer, Mamoon would have told people that Imam Reza had recognized his government; while Mamoon’s government was not based on truth and justice; and Imam accepted to be prince just because Mamoon had threatened him with death. He said to Imam Reza, “If you do not accept to be my successor (prince) I will cut your head.”

Tomorrow was Eyd-e-Fetr and he broke his fast and prayed all the night.

Pasandeh said: “O, my dear! Say there is no god but Allah.”

Khadijeh repeated: “There is no god but Allah.”

Pasandeh said: “Now that you said this witness, and you have already accepted Velaya (Leadership) of Imam Reza you are in God’s Castel. Close your eyes my dear girl, and imagine yourself in God’s castle.”

Khadijeh closed her eyes. The sky was full of flying almonds. The white bird was flying from side to side in the desert and then landed on her hands.

Pasandeh said: “Now you are safe from God’s punishment here in God’s castle.”

Ahmad asked: “Does God have a castle like the kings, like Mamoon for example?”

Pasandeh replied: “Yes, God owns a castle, but it is different from the kings’ castle. You may enter the castle of a king to get imprisoned and tortured, but you enter God’s castle to be safe and secure.”

Ahmad’s mother said: “There is only one God, and that’s Allah.”

Ahmad’s father whispered from the other side of the fire: “There is only one God and that’s Allah.”

The two white horses, fastened to a tree nearby whinnied softly.

Father said: “Horses are scared.” His wife got uneasy. Pasandeh smiled and said: “No problem. Aren’t the horses allowed to say there is only one God, and that’s Allah?”

 

Khadijeh said: “but horses…”

Pasandeh replied: “We all hear. The entire world hears, and whoever and whatever can hear will reply. Everybody replies in his own way.”

And then she addressed the horses and said: “Do you believe that there is only one God and that is Allah? If so, you are welcome to God’s castle.”

Ahmad looked at the white bird that was sleeping in Khadije lap and said; “Look this bird is sleeping in a safe castle without saying there is only one God, and that’s Allah.”

Pasandeh laughed and petted his soft and black hair and said: “You have become witty my little boy!”

Suddenly Ahamd said: “I want almonds.”

His mother replied: “If you eat them all, there would be no almonds left for Imam!”

Pasandeh put her hand in her bag, and gave a handful of almonds to Ahmad and said: “Eat them my dear boy! If I were these almonds, I should have liked to go into your stomach. It is better for them to go in a happy stomach, than being in the bag of an old woman like me.”

 

The father stole a look inside the bag of almonds. Pasandeh offered him: “Do you want almonds young man?”

Father got embarrassed and replied: “No. No… I just wanted to be sure that there are enough almonds left for Imam.”

Pasandeh gave him a handful of almonds and said: “There are enough almonds. You don’t worry. Imam likes those who like almonds! Eat son of almond! Don’t you want almonds khadijeh? What about you aunt? Do you want almonds?

Ahmad put an almond in his mouth and took a piece of burning wood from the fire and started running in the desert.

His father asked: “What is inside these almonds? He became so energetic after eating them.” Pasandeh replied: “There is love inside these almonds. The love that our son has in his heart for his Imam. That’s all.”

And then Pasandeh looked at the sky. Ramazan (month) was over, and the following day was Eyd-e-Fitr.

Khadijeh looked at her grandmother. She was able to select the best names for everything. A grandmother who greets the tree; who makes friendship with the sun; who knows how to talk to the birds; and appreciates holy months.

 

“Goodbye the best of sacred and holy months… goodbye Ramazan.”

The white bird closed his eyes and fell asleep and the fire was glowing warmly there.

Everybody was there. They were waiting on the roofs and in the streets. They were waiting for Imam, to come out of his house. They wanted Imam to conduct the prayer ceremony, but they didn’t want him to be forced to do so by Mamoon.

Someone said: “He will not come for the ceremony. He agreed to be his successor, provided that Mamoon will not force him into politics.”

Someone else said: “He will come; we will see, Mamoon would make Imam to perform the prayer, in the same way that he forced him to become his successor.”

Waiting, waiting and waiting; the soldiers, guards, and army officers and generals were waiting while sitting on the back of their horses.

Time was passing, but there was no sign of Imam. That big door would not open, and Imam had not shown his shining face. It was still dusk; sun had not risen, and the sky was full of gray pigeons.

Someone said, to himself, “That I will feed all these birds if I could see Imam. Come out our Imam.”

Nevertheless, Imam did not come out of his house, until the 5 tired passengers arrived.

“My greetings to Imam of almond blossoms” Pasandeh, at the moment she arrived at Marv.

Imam came out. He was dressed in a white dress, and had a white turban on his head. He had a stick in his hand; affection and love in his looks.

Everybody cried in happiness. Imam took a few steps towards the crowd and then stopped.

Khadijeh: “He saw us… one moment, only one moment he glanced at me, and I’m sure he remembered me.”

Ahmad; “Be quiet…just look and remember whatever you see. We will tell each other what we saw”.

Imam ordered his attendants: “Repeat whatever I do”

And then he moved forward again.

Ahmad’s father: “Imam is barefoot”.

Pasandeh: “My greetings to you, who follow our Prophets’ tradition”.

The white bird flied away from passande’s stick towards Imam, and everybody saw the white bird opened his way through all the gray pigeons, and landed on Imam’s hand.

Ahmad’s mother started sobbing. Khadijeh remembered the day when she had poured out water on Imam’s dusty hands.

Imam stopped walking again and held up his dress to reveal his bare feet.

Ahmad: “I can see Imam’s feet”.

Imam took a few steps, and raised his head up to the sky and said “God is greater than one may think”.

All his attendants followed him and repeated. The crowd said “God is Great”; The sky said, “God is Great”. The soldiers, and the high rank officers of the army impressed by the behavior of Imam, got off their horses, took off their shoes, and followed Imam barefooted.

Ahmad’s mother cried in excitement. The others also started crying. Everybody was crying and saying “God is great”, and Pasandeh was touching the almonds in the bag for the last time.

Mamoon was in his palace. He was pleased and satisfied. What a bright day! I don’t hear the birds flapping around the palace! What is this noise? “God is great”? Are these people of my city shouting “God is great”?

A frightened and terrified guard entered and explained whatever was going on in the town.

Mamoon: “He is doing the same things that Prophet Muhammad and his fathers did. Bring him back. If he goes on with the prayer performance in this way, people will be impressed by him…”

The guard left the palace immediately to reach Imam. Imam was surrounded by people. The guard pulled aside the crowd, and opened his way towards Imam. “Stay away, stay away, and do not disturb Imam!” The Soldier said: But no attention was paid by the people. They surrounded Imam, watching him eagerly.

“O’ Imam, you have the sweet smell of our Prophet.” People said.

The guard sent by Mamoon called the other guards. One… Two… ten… guards finally succeeded to reach Imam. The guard whispered to Imam “You should go back home! It seems that we had troubled you! Please go back home…we will ask the same person who used to perform the prayer ceremony every year, to conduct today’s ceremony”.

Imam put on his shoes, got on his horse and went back to his house. The white bird was sitting on the neck of his horse, going with him.

Pasandeh did not miss the chance, and threw a handful of almonds behind Imam. Pigeons opened their wings. All the people said together “God is greater than what one may think.”

Each one of the almonds became a tree; a tree with so many branches. The town was filled with almonds. The horses’ mane, women’s scarf full of almonds; the earth and the sky were full of almonds. And the little girl and boy, who were running behind Imam’s horse, were the protectors of the Almond trees.

 

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