xAle’s Corner: Sunflowers


    Standing outside in front of a large old house in the shadow of mature senobar and chenaar trees and watching the silver rays of the mahtaab create a lasting dance was not a place to argue about where to go next.

    We were at a party hosted by a medical student whom Hamid knew. It was one of those great old-fashioned houses that as you walked in you could hear every inch of it screaming to be filmed with a story-line out of “Persian Nights”.

    The garden with its trees, flowers and its pond was decorated with colored lights . We danced the night away on a platform covering part of the pond while following our shadows reflected in the water as we watched the floating red geranium move in the gentle breeze.

    It was not often that I went to dance parties. Hamid said this one was special and would be nice to go if just to see the beautiful house.

    I had just finished making myself a fancy silk dress form the material my aunt had brought me as soughati from Makkeh. It had an open cleavage and was layered around the waist. I was proud of my sewing; the dress had really turned out well and this was a good occasion to show it off.

    It was past midnight as we left the house. No one was ready to call it a night and we were trying to decide where to go next. The air was fresh, the moon was brilliant, the night was young and we were restless!

    None of the suggestions seemed to be exiting enough for Hamid, so we decided to leave the group and do something on our own.

    Hamid had brought a big motor cycle to the party. Going for a ride on a moonlit night with a cool breeze passing through our hair seemed to be the perfect way to end a perfect night.

    As we rode through the city, we took pleasure in smelling the scent of tree-lined streets, the quiet whisper of leaves as they told their secret to the moon, and the wind sharing with us the news of the day in the cool of the night.

    I do not remember how long we were riding before we saw a road sign for Qoochan and decided to go on. We had the road just to ourselves. Taking advantage of a quiet road and a fast vehicle was what seemed so natural.


    I was holding tight as Hamid rode fast, following the lights in front of us and the the tall fields of wheat passing on the side. The silvery light of the full moon illuminated the fields, creating a mystic dance of light and shadows as we went by. The sky above us was getting lighter and we were beginning to feel the early morning chill as we watched the appearance of bright patches of yellow fields of sunflowers around us. There was nothing but big yellow sunflowers stroked by a hint of brown and delicately wrapped in a green mist, lifting their heads in anticipation of the approaching sun.

    Watching the night going through its course, holding on to a warm body, and witnessing fields of sunflower as far as one could see while riding fast on a lonely stretch of a road, is one of those images that is hard to forget.

    As we watched the graceful beauty around us, absorbed in the magnificent show of nature, we lost track of time and place. The morning chill began to make its presence known and we stopped for a cup of tea at a road side qahveh-khaaneh. By then the first lights of the day had brought the farm workers to the cafe on their way to the fields. We walked in shivering, dressed in city clothes, and ordered some tea. Everyone was looking at us in disbelief, especially when Hamid started to warm up my cold feet by holding them in his hands and rubbing them as I was touching his stiff shoulders.

    Farm workers gathered around us talking as though we could not understand a word they said, and commented about my dress, Hamid's love for a woman to the point of kissing her toes and the fact that we must not be Iranian.

    After a few warm cups of tea we decided to return to Mashhad before the traffic on the road made it impossible to enjoy the beauty of the sunflowers in the sun.

    We rode back as we watched the sun find its way up to the blue sky, shining its warm rays on our backs.

    Years have passed and life has presented us all with many changes and challenges. Still, when I am in need of something to lift my spirit, a look back at a majestic field of sunflowers gloriously following the sun in an early morning breeze, holding tight to a warm body… It brings joy to my heart.

    (Someone kissing my toes is okay too 🙂


About the author

xAle (maternal aunt in Persian) is an old timer who grew up in Iran when words such as mirAb, mAyeh khamir, Ab-anbAr and hAvan were part of daily life. Through stories and remembrances of old days, she will be sharing with us part of our past.

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