An Old Iranian Story
Author: Shahrbanoo V.
Instructor: Brooke W.
Photo Credit: artmari / 123rf Stock Photos
Article ID: 2575 [Arts- Fall 2022]
Iranian storytelling has a long history and is very artistic; so, storytelling has been considered unique art for Iranians. The old stories have been quoted from one generation to another and have given some advice to people. The writer or poet has often noted a moral teaching and a beautiful philosophical or mystical point. In any case, all ancient stories are common in expressing a wise point or explaining a specific concept and a moral conclusion, which the author has achieved with simple language and with the help of a simple story definition, like the story I write in the following. In the old days, there were two neighbors, Ali and Saleh, who were always in a fight. They thought if one of them was killed, the other could spend his life calmly. Finally, they decided to make a poisonous drug for each other. For choosing which one to be the first to eat the other’s drug, they played a coin toss of heads or tails. The lottery fell on Ali. Then Saleh bought the most poisonous drug and gave it to Ali. Ali ate it and quickly returned home and drank a container of buttermilk full of salt. He then jumped into the hot water pool. After some physical activity and swimming in the water, he vomited. When his stomach was empty, he slept, and on the following day, he woke up and felt better. Then Ali went to Saleh and told him it’s my turn, and you must eat my poisonous drug. Ali bought a rug and a stick and said to his maid hit the rug with the stick from the morning to night every day. Saleh heard the stick blow, and he thought Ali was making a strong poisonous drug for him; with every hit of the stick, his stress and fear increased. Little by little, he got anxiety; he had nightmares at night and often couldn’t sleep because of the fear. During the day, his fear and anxiety increased with each sound of the wood. After three days, Saleh died before he ate any poison: he died because of fear! Why have I chosen this story?
When I was a child, my grandma loved me so much and told me old Iranian stories every night before I went to sleep. One of the best stories that affected me emotionally of my beliefs was “The End of the Fear of Death!” My grandma died when I was ten years old, but this story became one of the most memorable pieces of advice that she told me. Whenever a terrible thing happens, I remember the sweet memories of the nights when my grandma told me this story, and I sleep calmly after that.
About 20 years ago, a terrible earthquake happened in one of the cities in Iran, and my little boy was so scared that some nights he had nightmares. He dreamed the quake had destroyed everywhere. During these terrible times, I would tell the story above for my son in the way that my grandma explaining to me to calm him down. It helped him to feel that he must be stronger. I repeated my grandma’s advice to him “Be calm, trust in God and the ability of yourself, and whatever is good, will happen for you; don’t worry about what hasn’t happened.”
There is a poem written by Khayyam -one of the famous Iranian poets- that confirms and completes this conclusion as follows:
The yesterday that’s gone
you must forget what it was.
For tomorrow hasn't come,
not be worried.
Don’t rely on the future and past days.
Be happy just now.
Don’t waste your life.
When I decided to write the story, I couldn’t remember the details of it. I searched on Google and found the story in Farsi -an Iranian language- and wrote it in English. The story has a deep and meaningful concept and advice so that it does not belong to a particular time.
Today, this kind of stress is common in the world. In the early days of the pandemic, the rate of premature mortality increased; statistics show that some people died not because of Covid19 but because of stress and fear!