The Parrot's Garden
January 18, 2005
The balmy mid-spring
air in the outskirts of the city of Yazd was gently caressing the young girl's
face. Filled with joy she began running faster. On the horizon the rising full
moon was visible and provided enough light for her to see the two tall minarets
of the shrine not too far away. Between the two minarets was the huge golden
dome reflecting the moonlight. Tears of joy gathered and started running down
her face. For a moment the entire scenery was blurred as if she was looking
through a thick crystal glass. Filled with serenity of love she
was getting closer to
her savior's shrine.
She felt like she was bouncing off the ground
into the sky with each stride. Each jump lasting several seconds and once she
the earth she took off again effortlessly and went forward. She had not experienced
such feelings since she was a child and then only in her dreams, where
and her mother used to play games and chase parrots in a vast garden covered
extraordinary flowers, only to wake up each time and find herself in laughter,
and then realizing those were only dreams of a child.
But now she could hear the bells of a caravan far away traveling through the
edge of the desert at night, wishing she could be with them traveling along
to places far away. But her mission was now different. She was on her way to
the Imam. Her soul was ready to yield her body to her savior.
She arrived at the large courtyard of the shrine and past the oval shaped reflection
pool where she could see the shrine's image in the water. There was nothing
but pure peace and silence. It was late at night; the custodian
gone home or was perhaps asleep. She went straight to the entrance where pilgrims
take off their shoes and place them inside bins. She took off her shoes
pushed open the huge silver-plated gate. She took a few steps inside
She looked up at the concave ceilings covered with thousands of small mirrors.
The lights had been turned off except for a few inside a very large crystal
chandelier in the center of the shrine. Each small
mirror reflected the image of the entire chandelier.
The air inside the shrine was relaxing and refreshing. She approached the
tomb and kissed the silver lattice structure that enclosed it in a polygon
shape. Each side consisting of square small shaped-openings to allow
to glance at the Imam's tomb inside, or toss gifts and cash donations. She
took off her last ornament a silver ring from her finger and dropped it
inside the tomb. The only audible sound was the bouncing of the silver ring
on the marble
She tore off a small piece from her long white gown and wrapped
it around one of the silver square openings. This was what her
mother taught her as a child. The tradition of tying a "Dakheel." For
her wish to come true, she must tie a knot on the Imam's shrine and make
a wish. She whispered her wish quietly. Then kissed the silver enclosure
relaxing aroma of rosewater was everywhere but mostly on the silver partitions
shrine. Custodians of the shrine sprayed, wiped and polished the entire silver
structure with rosewater each night after visitors had gone.
She had her arms wide open and stretched. Her fingers wrapped around the
small square silver openings. Her head was down and her long beautiful hair
her entire shoulder. She realized this was the first time she had entered
a holy place without wearing a scarf and proper attire. She was just
wearing a long white gown covering her body from neck to her toes. But then
no one there to object.
She closed her eyes and started praying quietly. There wasn't a sound inside
the shrine and she could hear her heart beat:
"Oh my beloved Imam, take me, take me, I am all yours. You
know how much I need your help". She then started reciting
some phrases from the holy book. Her ears were getting warm. A
slight shiver in the back of her spine gave her
goose bumps. She continued:
"Do you remember me blessed Imam? I used to come here with my mother as
a child to visit you and I always loved you. You have always been the source
of my belief
Then after a short pause she continued:
"Oh, holy Imam, every time I prayed
towards your shrine you came to my dream and answered my prayers. Now
I am here for good. Please take me. I am yours. Show me the way."
She felt a small breeze filled with rose scent. The chandelier lights
dimmed slightly to a yellowish color. She looked up and through
one of the stained
glass windows she could see the distorted image of the moon. A sudden
sensation took over her body, a murmur, and slight vibration almost like
a mild earthquake. She saw a bright silver dust covering the
the tomb. It was coming from the ceiling almost like a fog. Millions
of colorful particles started to glow in the air. Each particle was distinguishable
the other, with its own color and intensity and different depth of field
like a cosmic firework.
"How beautiful, how out of this world," she
whispered. Her heart started to beat faster. She was not frightened,
but in awe.
The air was saturated with the fantastic aroma of lavender, rosewater
and sandalwood, taking her back to her childhood. She
she had forgotten
thepleasant scents on Earth, how sweet life
is. So much to learn in so little time, yet she felt she
was traveling back
thousands of miles through childhood memories. The entire interior
of the shrine was covered in silver dust
. Millions of light particles sparkled
all around her and flowed in different
She continued with her prayers. Gradually she started feeling as if
the silver lattice partition between her and the tomb of the Imam was
and fading away. She looked carefully and noticed the large marble
tombstone was slowly levitating off the ground. Her pupils opened
wide in disbelief. Nothing
was tangible anymore. Everything seemed to defy gravity. The
huge marble tombstone continued to go up towards
the ceiling. Her heart was beating
very fast. She saw the figure of a man rising up from the grave.
this wasn't a material body. It was an ethereal phenomenon, a spirit.
She could however discern the face of a white-bearded man
eyes that looked like marbles. She could
see through the face and the whole body. She looked up and the marble
up near the ceiling suspending in the air. She then addressed the
"My dear Imam, thank you for
listening to my prayers. Thank you for allowing me to come in.
I am happily ready, please take me away."
A bright light
beam with colors of a rainbow was coming out of the grave. Things were happening
fast. She felt like a passenger running to catch the last
The spirit offered her a hand and she grabbed it. She suddenly looked up
and saw her mother, father and young brother standing next to her. Her
was smiling and her father was standing in the corner of the tomb with his
eyes closed and whispering prayers. Her young brother was grabbing on to
her white gown
and smiling, as if this was nothing but a game. Gradually, the spirit
pulled her towards the grave. Her heartbeats started to slow. She felt
weightless. She was now on the edge of the grave. She reached and kissed
her mother's hand
and her brother's face.Then with help from the ethereal body
she descended into the grave that looked like a passageway etched with patina
ivy that led to a garden.
Inside the garden the air was misty. She saw humming birds with translucent
colors hovering over yellow morning glories. All her life she wished if nature
produce a yellow morning glory. Then she saw large colorful parrots sitting
on the tree branches, smiling at her, inviting her to come and play with
garden's huge copper gate quietly closed.
This was the Parrot's Garden of her childhood dreams where she and her mother
used to run around and chase large parrots. She felt at peace. The parrots
were laughing and conversing with the flowers in many languages, all of which
she could understand.
little ladybugs were sitting on the white jasmine flowers smiling and waving
and welcoming her in fluent Japanese.
A frog jumped from the center of a lotus
flower on top of a tea bush and greeted her in French with an unmistakable
Parisian accent. She was now a free spirit no longer attached to
her body and felt
at home. She walked the gentle slopes of the garden as the parrots
around. The air was so fresh she could see the shimmering
morning dew on the little forget-me-not flowers. Every corner a new plant,
a new scent, each step a new experience, ecstasy at its peak.
The waitress offered more hot tea. I put down
my pen and realized I had dozed off. Soft music was playing in the background
with the warm voice of Ray Charles.
He had Georgia on his mind. Many other thoughts rushed in and I could
see the Parrot's Garden fading among them. The windows were fogged up
and it was raining outside. There was plenty of time to think.
Farrokh A. Ashtiani is the founder of PersianParadise.com