Written by Farideh Farjam, M. Azad
In faraway Persia, the New Year begins on the first day of spring. Every year on this day a man named Amoo Norouz puts on his felt hat, ties his blue sash, and walks to the city with a cane in his hand. He visits every home in Persia, bringing the New Year to the people.
Just outside the gate to the city lies one of the prettiest gardens in all Persia. Fruits of every kind grow there. Around the garden’s edge are planted bushes of flowers, and every year at the beginning of spring their buds burst into pink and golden blossoms. Roses bloom in the garden in countless numbers.
The rose is called the “ever-spring flower” in Persia, because each blossom is as fresh and beautiful as the first day of spring.
The owner of the garden is a cheerful old woman. She has never seen Amoo Norouz, but each year on the first day of spring she waits eagerly for him, hoping that this time she will meet him when he comes to her garden.
She rises earlier than the sun on this day, and she carefully makes all the special preparations for Amoo Norouz’s visit. First she washes her face and makes her bed and 10 sweeps out her house. When everything is tidy inside, she brings out her silken carpet and spreads it on the veranda. Then she waters the bushes of flowers-the narcissus and marigold, violet and rose, tulip, iris, and morning glory. She tends the roses most carefully, because they are Amoo Norouz’s favorite flowers.
After she has watered her garden, the old woman walks over to the tiled pool near the veranda. Brightly colored fish swim in the clear, fresh water. After the old woman feeds the fish. She turns on the fountain that flows from the middle of the pool.
The fountain sends a cool spray high in the air, and the leaves and flowers in the garden are covered with tiny droplets of water.
Next the old woman sets her silverrimmed mirror on the veranda. She combs her long white hair and ties a golden scarf around her head. She darkens her eyebrows and pinches her cheeks to redden them.
Over her dress she puts on a fine vest of richly patterned silk.
Then the old woman lights a fire in the stove and brings out a water pipe. In the base of the pipe she lays some rose petals.
Then she carries a large tray out to the veranda.
On this tray she arranges seven objects whose names begin with the letter S.
seven crystal dishes filled with seven kinds of candy surround the tray. In every home across the land, objects just like these are set out to welcome Amoo Norouz.
At last the old woman is ready, and she sits on the carpet to wait for Amoo Norouz.
The old woman waits for Amoo Norouz because whoever meets him will grow young again, just as the earth grows young again each spring.
This year, as every year, Amoo Norouz does not come right away. Slowly the old woman’s eyelids grow heavy, and she starts to doze. Soon she is asleep, dreaming that she is meeting Amoo Norouz at last.
At the moment when the woman falls asleep, Amoo Norouz enters the garden. This year, as every year, he sees the old woman smiling in her dreams, and he does not have the heart to waken her. Instead, he picks the most beautiful rose from the garden and gently tucks it in the old woman’s hair.
Next he takes a piece of fruit from the large tray and cuts it in half. One half he eats with some sugar, and the other he returns to the tray for the old woman. Then he uses two coals from the fire to light the water pipe. After a few moments, Amoo Norouz leaves the garden to continue his journey to the city.
This year, as every year, the sun slowly rises above the treetops, filling the garden with light and melting the droplets of water on the leaves and flowers. When the bright sunshine reaches the veranda and touches the old woman’s face, she awakes with a start. She rubs her eyes and sees the half-eaten fruit Amoo Norouz has left behind. “I have missed him again,” she cries.
“The year has changed, but I did not see Amoo Norouz.”
She raises her hand to her hair, knowing that she will find a rose under her scarf.
“Now I must wait another full year to see Amoo Norouz and become young again,” she says sadly.
Perhaps one spring the old woman will remain awake and meet Amoo Norouz at last. Then, like the rose, she will be as fresh as spring itself to the end of time.
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