30 December 2010

"What, like a garden, never stays the same?"

And with this riddle, so begins this delightful migration through 19th century Iran, glimpses of life lived as a Sufi Moslem tribal nomad, and a young woman who desires a bit of a say in her future.

Anahita is told by her father that a local tribal leader, the Khan and a much older man, has asked for her hand in marriage... her father thinks this a good idea because the Khan is a wealthy man, lives nearby and politically, this arranged marriage will help guarantee secure migratory passage and water rights for the tribes livestock. Anahita, however, is dismayed. She wants a say in her future. She dreams of marrying someone who shares her love for her land, her people and the nomadic lifestyle.

She devises a plan... to which her father and the local religious leader finally agree... She will weave a riddle into her wedding rug. Whichever man comes closes to discerning the meaning of her riddle is the man she will concede to marry.

The events in this story take place over the course of that year - from the time she finds out she must marry until she knows who the man will be, and during that year, she learns many lessons, including the fact that this path she has chosen will have unexpected and unimagined consequences for people she never dreamed would be impacted by her decision. She also learns that often the traits we detest most in others are traits we dislike about ourselves... that self-preoccupation makes even what seems most desirable truly unattractive.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, found fascinating looking into a world and a culture that is so far and different from my own and being personally challenged by the wisdom of Jalaluddin Rumi, a 13th century poet and scholar. I mean, just think for a few minutes of the astuteness of this statement: "Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself."

I can't wait to pass Anahita's Woven Riddle on to my girls... to hear what they think of and learn from reading this book.

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