Creative Nonfiction

 Manijeh Khorshidi,


Seven Valleys

They carry me to a house with a marble floor and high ceiling. The place is on the slopes of Mount Damavand in the north of Tehran. The sadness of leaving my friends behind changes into a joyful feeling when I arrive in that spacious place. There are plenty of beautiful objects and decorative pieces around. They are all in harmony with my beauty.

I met my new owner for the first time when he stepped into the art gallery. He passed by me, then he returned and gazed at me with praise. Then he held me, and at some point, even caressed me! I felt his adoration and was elated. Many had praised and coveted to own me. But this master's look was different. He did not just admire and pass by me. He adored, lingered, and claimed me.

It is a few years that I call that place home. I am one of my master's most precious Persian carpets.

My master has hung me on the wall between his two cherry wood bookcases. He studies for hours in this favorite room of his. Sometimes his lovely young wife joins him. They talk about the books they have read and poems they have written. I hear them talk about the Seven Valleys of spiritual life. The first Valley is the Valley of Search, he says. Search for Truth, that ultimate Reality. Then looking lovingly to his wife, he adds that the second Valley is Love. I listen to their intoning with the words of God.

Their inner joy uplifts the space. Their reverence for nature and the divine extends to arts. I cannot wait to hear the rest of the Valleys. But, it is mid-morning, and they have to leave. The aroma of the fresh flowers in the ornamented vase has filled the room. By their admiring look at me, it is as if I am part of their morning conversation. "Life is good," I tell my silky body.

Recently, though, in their silent moments, they look out of the window and sigh. I am puzzled. Why this momentary sadness? Why the pausing sorrow? I have never been in an atmosphere like this home. I have never been to anyplace like this. They own me, but they do not covet ownership of me. They have me, but they never inflate their ego with possessing me. For the first time, I perceive myself through listening to these two love birds. I hear them talking about service to humanity. I see them meditating every day and reflecting on detachment. And then, I learn from them that the purpose of every object is to serve others. To elate and to inspire the soul. Thus, my purpose as a beautiful object is to bring joy to the heart of the beholders. And not to be attached to my beauty. I never knew that. I have always been treated and looked at differently.

My story began centuries ago. Once upon a time, an elder artisan master took it upon himself to create his best work. It took him and his workers more than two years to make me. They used silk and natural colors with shades of turquoise and ash-rose in my making. When finally I came out of the workshop, I became the masterpiece and the last work of the famed artisan.

The story of my availability reached the ears of art hunters. The walls of palaces and mansions became my home. Whoever had more power or wealth owned me. I have tales to tell of my long journey during the last two centuries. I lived as a neglected but a showpiece at best until that day in the gallery when my new master purchased me and gave me a position of ornamentation and inspiration in his household. He and his wife saw in me the artisanship, the creativity of craftsmanship. They saw in me the labor and care of the young women of the past, those whose slender fingers made me. They saw my actuality. I was honored and discovered for the first time.

Reminiscing on my life while I am in the serene space of my master's house gives me a perspective on ownership. I compare my past owners who owned me with greed and my master's ownership who owns me with pride. Not pride of having me, but of my coming to being. Oh, how much I want him and his family to be my companion forever. Sometimes you want to forget part of your life, the time of consternation and subjugation. I want to forget the period between my artisan maker and my new master, the one who made me with his gift of creativity. And the one who owns me with his gift of discernment. Feeling empowered and not overpowered, I throw a pleasing glance on my body and admiring look at my environment.

At the beginning of the Autumn, the silent moments of my master become longer. His eyes betray a deep concern which I do not perceive the reason. He is, as usual, gentle and generous. His calm removes anxiety, and his manner reassures everyone. Thus, the servants and helps who love their employer have no distress working there. But the disquieting look in my master’s eye worries me. They still come to their library every morning and meditate. My master's wife still brings fresh flowers early morning to the room before their morning studying. At one time, I hear her quietly reading to her beloved husband:

What if we lose everything,

What if the imperceptive slay us?

Rose is the rose in the garden or the vase

The soul is free, dwelling in the body or above.

What if we become dust on the ground?

Isn’t this world shadow of the next?

Isn't death take us to the Valley of Light?

Then, the unthinkable happened. And I discovered the cause for my master's concerns a few weeks ago. At midnight on a cold night of Autumn, somebody pounds on the door. The servant runs and opens it. A friend of the family with a disheveled look appears at the door. He lets himself in and calls for my master.

'What is going on,' my master asks him while he puts on his robe, coming down the steps.

'They are looking for you,' the man says,' they are only two blocks away. 'You must leave immediately.'

The next thing I see is my master with his wife leaving the house hurriedly. Their last gentle glance falls upon me. Then silence fills the house. Lonely and in the dark, I stand there as a witness. It does not take that long that some angry men attack the house. They seem to be like crazed animals. They pillage, break, and burn. Their first aim is the library. Why? "Destroy those forbidden books," an angry voice filled with hate orders. 'Burn the books,' the man commands.

I am terrified. I feel the blaze of fire is catching up with me. For years I have been the companion of these precious books. They contain beautiful words of wisdom, divine philosophy, and history, especially the book of Seven Valleys which by now I have memorized. But now, one by one, they become ashes. Suddenly, a hand with a harsh movement pulls me down, rolls me, and puts me on his shoulder. Where am I going? Why this act of savagery? And what happened to my master and his wife? It is chaos in the city. The targeted homes are all on fire, homes with the book of Seven Valleys.

Now, it is many years that I am rolled up and put in the corner of this dark storage house. Once in a while, a man with a turban comes to check on me. With no shame in his unlawful possession, he admires me. I am his most prized take from the pillage that night. The man has possessed other beautiful objects from the house of my master too. We all lament together, remembering the calm and beauty of the space where our master so gently took care of us.

The depressive days of my life in this dusty place pass with the grieving of being far from my true self. I have become a commodity again. The possession of greed and wants. My values have become the material one only. The language of love and creativity weaved into my being, forgotten. Rolled up and limited, cornered and closed-lip, I only harbor hope of liberation.

One day the turbaned man brings another person to the storage room. They talk for a long time and haggle over the price on me. The unscrupulous keeper of me wants to make the most money of his unlawful take. Eventually, he sells me for an exorbitant price. I become the possession of a new owner, and I see the light of day at last. Not knowing where he is taking me, I am happy to be owned by a man who lawfully purchased me.

He carries me to an art gallery. He owns the place, and with the utmost care, opens me to praise his deal. He looks for a prime location in his shop to expose me to art lovers. I am hung on the wall again. Years pass, and I am in exposition. Then it comes a day when an adoring beholder arrives in the gallery. He moves close to me. I perceive a deep connection with this customer. He is not as young as my master, but his look and charm are like him. He lingers and adores. He touches me gently with admiration. Could he be my own master?

I have become myself again and liberated. These days the room I am part of the decoration is the library in another beautiful house. My new owner received me from his father as a gift for their wedding. His father purchased me on that day from the gallery. Ever since the question, of whether he was my original kind owner

or not has stayed with me.

This young couple loves to offer hospitality to their friends and family. One evening when they had a gathering, I heard their conversation on the Seven Valleys. What is this? I thought to myself. Why is it that when I hear the spiritual words, I feel like myself? Their discussion reaches the Valley of Contentment. Then, I see the man who purchased me from the gallery sitting in the corner quietly. His silver hair and wrinkles have made him look older than his age.

His son tells the story of his parents for the friends in the room. He tells the story of the attack on his parents' property and how his father, by accident many years later, found his favorite Persian carpet stolen from him years before. He tells the audience that this carpet was a gift to his mother by his father on their wedding day. And now he has gifted him and his wife with the same carpet. He looks at his gentle father. His tearful eyes and smile tell the story of a life with pain and joy. Then, after all, it was my master who rediscovered me at the gallery. My delight has no limits.

But I do not see the lovely wife of my old master in the crowd. The one whom every morning would bring fresh flowers to the library. Where is she? What happened to her? Looking at my old master, it is as if he remembers his wife’s poem: What if we become dust on the ground?

Then, I hear the son telling the rest of the story that his mother died when he was five, prematurely and unexpectedly. She passed away with complete surrendering to the end of this first life, with her soul in contentment soaring to the realm of eternity.

I suddenly remember that the Valley of Contentment is another stage of the Seven Valleys. Oh, I know I will be happy in this place, the house of master's son. I am beside myself that they hung me on the wall in the library filled with books about love and life.

August 01, 2021 19:12

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Lorna Jolly
21:25 Aug 11, 2021

Absolutely beautiful! I love your twist on this prompt, and I loved the tragic tale of the carpet. It's not often I come across a truly intriguing, unique short story, but this was one of them.


01:13 Aug 12, 2021

I am grateful for your kind comment.🌷


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C. Jay Loren
04:25 Aug 08, 2021

What a unique story told from the perspective of a carpet! I loved it. Reminds me of a Hans Christian Andersen story about a tree who went on a similar journey but to a far less happy ending. Well done! 😊


02:17 Aug 09, 2021

Thank you for taking time to convey your kind and encouraging words.🌷


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