The Fragrance of Love in our Home: A story of a dreamful child and a tree

By Abdullah Mezar:

The year is insignificant, but childhood memories of the wilderness in the vicinity of Amoudah, or Chul, as we call it in the Kurdish language, are still lingering in our minds. They will stay with us even though some memories are terribly painful, but even that pain has a different effect.

Our games were varied and numerous according to the seasons. The games of Spring differed from Summer’s, and Fall’s ones were not like Winter’s, but most of them were linked to nature. If our parents didn’t allow us to go around the city, we were forced to play in the courtyard of our house.

Some games were considered hobbies rather than spending time with the neighborhood’s children. The most notable hobby was bird hunting, which was occupying a large portion of our brains. Our love for the game grew as we watched older boys go hunting for beautiful birds in distant places where we were afraid to go.

They would bring back colorful and beautiful birds that we had only seen on TV and, as mesmerised children, we kept talking about the skills of the hunter boys, who sold many of the birds at high prices.  All children wished to hunt like them, but not all were like me and my two friends, Azad and Shivan. We decided to embark on the experience of hunting. We agreed to go in the morning because the best time for hunting birds was early morning. Although waking up early was difficult for us, the morning was a wonderful and amazing time.

The hunting process required getting active worms to use as bait to attract and catch birds in traps that we laid in the nearby and distant trees. So we wasted an hour of our time searching for active worms. We got a few after a big effort although many of them were, unfortunately, small-sized. We laid our traps, moved away, and kept talking and watching for a while, but no birds came, making us feel bored. Azad and Shivan, after losing hope, decided to go home and sleep. I stayed on, unfazed, determined not to come back without catching at least one bird. In the face of the Taurus Mountains, in Turkey, I remained watching everything around me.

From time to time, my thoughts went to Mardin and Dare and my relatives’ faces on the other side of the border in Turkey. I thought of the stories of my grandmother – God rest her soul – who had not seen her son for half a century, although the distance between Amoudah and her son’s village near Mardin was not more than fifteen kilometers. I felt pain and tears making their way to my eyes. As my thoughts wandered, I found myself in a deep sleep and then dreamed of climbing up the Taurus Mountains.

After about an hour or so, a hot sun rudely awakened me and I remembered the trap.

Unfortunately, I found it had been robbed by some shepherds. I felt angry and disappointed. I was saddened by the loss of a rare worm that we had found in the animals’ barn. I could not find anything to free myself from a storm of anger except a small shrub branched from a large tree. It was an Elaeagnus angustifolia tree or, as some call it, Russian olive or Syrian Zizaphon in Arabic. I grabbed it and started beating and punching it as if it were a formidable enemy. I did not stop until it was uprooted.

But then I felt remorseful and guilty and said to myself: “What is the guilt of this poor tree?”

Russian olive treeI really regretted my behavior, and wanted to expiate my sin by planting it in other fertile soil. Home was the best place to take it. I carried it, painstakingly, to my home. And, without telling family members, I started digging the soil to plant it, and then irrigated it well.

My tree grew up and its flower buds bloomed into full-size. Its  scent spread all over our neighborhood. Sweet birds, in all forms and colors, gathered and sang. The children were playing under its shadow, and hunting enthusiasts from my family were trying to hunt birds beneath it. It became like a studio for all who needed a background to take photos. We used its flowers in Chamomile tea, for patients and non-patients. Not only that, but my father was waving a long water hose over its strong branches, and my mother was putting light things in a small bag on a high branch.  Even some lovers in the big family were engraving the first letters of their names on the tree. Actually, it was a romantic painting! In fact, the Zizaphon tree was a majestic sanctuary for everyone; it was a good spirit in our home.

Yes, it’s true that I had lost an attractive bait and a new trap, which meant me not spending a Syrian pound for a week, and I had failed at catching Russian live tree blossombirds, but the whole experience left me with a Zizaphon tree whose generosity and giving went beyond my dreams and needs.

If those guys hadn’t attracted us to those sweet birds, we wouldn’t have woken up in the morning and gone hunting; we wouldn’t have uprooted Zizaphon’s roots, and there would be no beautiful memories to occupy our minds now.

The Zizaphon tree was a gift among the most beautiful gifts. We sought a thing but got something else which was more beautiful.  All this happened because we tried to hunt and tried to be skillful hunters. We wanted everyone to talk about our hunting trip. We tried to bring a new thing into our lives. Although the direct purpose of our attempt at hunting was not achieved, still – up to this day – I am happy with what I got. Three years ago was the last time I smelt it, but its scent is present in my memory and also, I gather, in the memories of all those who have loved the Zizaphon tree in our home.

I miss you, my wonderful tree…

Abdullah Mezar is Foreign Affairs correspondent for ‘Alkhaleej’ in the U.A.E.

Copyright © 2012

5 Responses to The Fragrance of Love in our Home: A story of a dreamful child and a tree
  1. Ari kader
    January 10, 2013 | 12:32


  2. Anna aelnouby
    January 11, 2013 | 20:53

    This is a beautiful story you wrote, I love the part where you dig the worm and make the trap, and the moral to your story ends so wonderful. Your story is amazing!

    • Abdullah Mezar
      January 13, 2013 | 16:15

      Thank you Ari and Anna. I’m happy that you enoyed reading it.

  3. Wesal Kicho
    January 13, 2013 | 20:02

    Wonderful story, and strong translation. Wish you all the best, Abdullah

  4. Mamo Alo
    March 20, 2014 | 08:16

    Thank you for this lovely typical Kurdish story. I really like it.

    In a nut-shell, the story is nice, ideas are clear, cultural background is rich and plain. Well-done mamoste A. Mezar

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