The Fields of Laleh

These days my mind has been racing with so many images, thoughts, feelings, and questions, that I have trouble sleeping at night and fully functioning during the days. I try distractions that can momentarily remove me from the turmoil that I am witnessing in Iran, but somehow no matter how much I try, I find myself right in the midst of Vali-Asr street in Tehran where my loved ones, my brothers and sisters, are fighting for their rights with each passing day.

Their efforts are unsurpassed. The world is witnessing something unreal; the peaceful and silent Persian warriors. The children of Cyrus the Great have risen once again to show the world that they are too intelligent to be told what to do by a dictatorship, and they value life on this planet too much to fight back with violence.

The video that I saw from Kerman, Iran, where thousands of protesters were each holding a flower, and walking towards the Police who were standing guard, with shields and guns, is an image that I will never forget as long as I live. These people are getting beaten, killed, and tortured by these guards, yet they still approach them with love. Love that screams volumes about the delicate nature of a human soul.

Have you ever looked at a garden of tulips in the spring time? Their lives are short yet the beauty that they possess, brings people from miles away towards the garden centers where tulips flourish, just for a glimpse at their beauty and magnificence. A beauty that is a representation of just how sweet the taste of nature can be, even if it is for a short time each spring. The time where these tulips come together to take our breath away each year, just happens to be the time where we experience the most rainfall. After all, it is spring time.

As the heavy rain falls to the ground, I often sit in my car and watch the tulips, worrying that the rain is going to end their lives prematurely. It’s bad enough that they only last for three short weeks out of the year to begin with, but now with the threat of rain, hail, thunder, and lightening, which are all necessary forces of nature as well, I fear that their lives will be cut even shorter. At that very moment I panic that I have not yet had the chance to grab my camera and visit the Botanical Gardens  to capture their beauty this year, and now I am going to miss my chance.

I sit in my car and watch with worry and sadness. I watch the heavy rain drops hit each delicate petal, and I see each tulip standing strong, only moving from side to side as they are hit with the countless drops of rain. I hold my breath thinking the same thoughts, “How much can one fragile, delicate tulip take? Their petals are so soft and fragile that without any effort can be easily dismantled with a simple human touch. How can they live through such a storm?”

The storm fights through the night with no sign of ease to come, as I lay in my bed trying to fall sleep wondering if any of the tulips are going to make it through the night. With the arrival of morning, I jump out of bed and frantically rush to get dressed, so that I can visit the garden of tulips, expecting to see a flower massacre. I hopelessly approach the garden, as I think to myself that I missed the chance of admiring their beauty this year, yet the reality leaves me in awe.

I see that not only are the tulips still alive and well, through a storm that not even I could have tolerated through the night, but their stems have grown in length and are much taller and more elegant. Their petals glisten and sparkle as diamonds do from the rays of sun hitting the drops of rain that has landed. In fact, they now look more beautiful than they did yesterday before the storm. Their delicate petals are still soft to the touch and haven’t fallen from the stems. As I think to myself, how could this be, I realize that the beauty of nature is unexplainable and most of the time unfathomable.

As I sit and watch these strong women and men come together in the streets of Iran, I can’t help but to envision them as the spring time Laleh (The word for tulip in the Farsi language); tulips of every shape and color; tulips from the garden of Iran.

It is true that they are hurting but with each lash of a baton, look at how much stronger they have become. Look and see with your own eyes, how much more beautiful and radiant they are today. They are weathering through the storms, and every morning as we wake to rush to our computers and watch the new videos out of Iran, we see them standing just a little taller, like the stems of the delicate Laleh. They cannot stop the storm taking place, but they are using the storm as nourishment for their soil to become even greater than they were yesterday.

As a child who grew up in Iran during the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, the image of the flower Laleh was not one in which I could have associated with it’s unsurmountable beauty. You see, during the war, all the martyrs in Iran, were associated with this delicate beautiful flower. As a result, just like Pavlov’s dog, the children of war can’t help but to associate the image of a tulip with the pain of war and death. With this passage, I hope to have altered this sad image and shown the strength and the resilience of the life of a tulip. Next time we see the beautiful Laleh, let’s think about the beauty associated with life, instead of sadness that is associated with death.

Looking at these admirable, freedom-loving human beings, I can only exemplify their actions as real life heroes. In my mind, their resilience and their beauty is one in which can only be compared to the elegance of a spring time garden of Laleh.
There is nothing that the storm can do to take away from their beauty. The world is watching and admiring and is waiting for the storm to die, so it can witness the true beauty of the land, the land of these delicate yet strong tulips…the land of freedom…the land of Iran.

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