At the end of a blind dark alley, five old houses stand. In the front of every door sits a stone bench. A few elderly women and men usually gather around one of the benches. Their wrinkled faces show that life has been hard. These gray-haired men and women are a perpetual feature in the alley, and I have never walked down the alley without seeing them. On the front of one of these houses is a rusty old door. It is the door to my grandparents’ garden. The door may not seem inviting, but when you open it, you are surprised to see a colorful garden spread out before you. For me, that rusty door has always been a door to paradise.
When you pass through the door, you see a large yard filled with trees of all kinds. On the right hand side of the yard stand seven tall trees: two plums, one walnut, three apple trees and one cherry tree. It is the beginning of summer. So the fruits are ripe and you can grab an apple, plum, or a handful of cherries from a tree. Take a small bite of the fruit as you listen to the song of a nightingale or canary. The melodious sound invites you to remember that summer is here and the garden is in full bloom. All around you flowers show off their colors — scarlet roses, pink carnations, and bright yellow daffodils.
On the left side of the yard, is a traditional oven made from a hole that has been dug a meter into the ground. There is wood and charcoal at the bottom of the hole. In this simple oven, on its hot inside wall, my grandmother used to bake a traditional Iranian bread — papik. She made the bread from simple ingredients, but it tasted rich and delicious, since it was kneaded with her kind hands. In the days gone by, you might have seen a family sitting around this stove and enjoying other traditional breads as well. And you might have heard someone say that the bread you buy in the store cannot compare with the breads baked in this old fashioned stove.
If you walk a little further, you will see the vegetable garden filled with leeks and delicious herbs like coriander, parsley, basil. Pick up a sprig of basil and smell its fragrant perfume. There are so many potatoes, peppers and more than ten large sunflowers! Watch out for the bees. Take ten more steps and climb three stairs and you will reach the door to my grandparents’ home. But I do not want to go inside with you. My grandparents are no longer here, and it is hard for me to see the space empty. But you should continue on for the best is yet to come. Look, you are on the balcony now. Go to the right and sit down on the chair. Now you have entered the heart of this little world. Close your eyes. Feel the breeze. Breathe the pure air. And listen. It is here that you will hear the sounds of life going on in a little alley called Golestan.