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Wild Rose

(by Nasrin Rejali)

Little did my parents understand when they gave me my name that it would be a predictor of my life. Nasrin means “wild rose” in Farsi, and although I am quite traditional in many ways, surviving for me and my children has been a wild ride.

I grew up in Tehran, Iran, in a house full of beauty and love. Grapevines shaded our courtyard. My mother found them fascinating, and harvested the fresh leaves, to stuff with rice or make tea. The scent would greet others in the neighborhood, filling them with desire and hunger, welcoming them. My father made very good wine from the grapes, and friends would come to drink and eat and dance and play cards. In winter, everyone would gather around a korsi, a low table with a brazier underneath and blankets thrown over it, covering themselves with the edges of the fabric to keep warm. Even after my father died, much too young, our celebrations continued and, as the Iranians say, our table was always open.

My mother was not overly interested in cooking, although she did it daily for us. It was her responsibility and duty to feed her family and friends. She had learned the discipline and traditions from her mother. But mostly my mother was a wonderful baker whose specialties were cookies, cakes, and other sweets. Friends would often say they wanted to stop by our house for dessert.