In the Markazi neighborhood, in the widest alley, four acacia trees laden with white flowers perfume the alley with their heavenly scent. In front of the acacias, on the other side of the alley, two pine trees stand, dressed in green in every season. They stand like faithful soldiers, protecting the house behind them. Their king is a diligent gardener, my father, who, every Saturday, waters them. The house they guard is my father’s house, a piece of heaven on earth.
My father’s house has a small yard with three flower beds. One of them is filled with tulips. When they bloom, you cannot stop gazing at the brilliant yellow and red of the petals. In another flower bed grow several rose bushes — pink, red, orange, and yellow. The beauty of this yard is not just the loveliness of the flowers; at the far corner of the flower-bed grows a great, old fig tree. Since it was very young, this fig has raised its branches to the heavens, offering silent prayers to God for the abundance of its fruit. Once God bestows on it hundreds of figs, the tree gives them to the birds above and the ants below, and to everyone who pays it a visit. This fig is the most generous tree I have ever known. Beside it stands a young persimmon tree, which graces the yard with magnificent orange fruit in autumn.
When I was child, we lived on one floor, with two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a big utility room. Then, fifteen years ago, my father had a second floor built. On this floor there are three rooms: one for me and my sister, with a view of the yard; a small one for my mother and father; and another room with a large book-shelf, called the meeting room, where my father, who was a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly, used to host Bahá’í meetings, feasts, and holy days. In Iran there are no Bahá’í Centers, so meetings are held in people’s homes.
The kitchen in our home is big, but not big enough to support my mother’s talent in cooking. She is a great chef who is guided by her heart; there is the taste of love in every single dish she makes. She bakes breads, cakes, and cookies and cooks Iranian dishes in the most perfect way. Without doubt, the kitchen is a delicious part of our heaven.
But our house in the Markazi neighborhood is not heavenly because of its physical features but for the spiritual atmosphere that permeates it. Everyone is warmly welcomed there. The sound of prayer, the music of laughter, the murmur of friendly conversation, the fragrance of the love among the people who come to the house are what make our home a small piece of heaven on earth.