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fFinding Beauty: An Inspiring Old Lady
by Salia
March 31, 2016


Back in the summer of 2004 in Iran, when I was in 11 years old, I was walking with my family and cousins through the cherry fields to find a suitable place to set up a picnic. Most of the picnic supplies were carried by my cousins and me as we looked for some nice shade on a hot summer day. The only gift given on that warm summer day (around 38 degrees) was a cool breeze that gave the field a sense of calmness. After walking for a bit, we finally managed to find a nice place to set up our picnic.
As my mom and cousins were setting up the area, I decided to take a walk in the field to explore the surroundings.

As I was walking, I heard a soft humming sound coming from a distance. I leaned towards the sound and paused when I saw an old lady, with a basket in her hand, picking cherries and singing a patriotic song of Afghanistan. It was very surprising to see a very old lady working in the field in such high spirits. I was so attracted towards the sight and the sound that I started walking towards her. As I got closer, I saw she was wearing a sky blue scarf with brown blouse and a skirt. “Salam”, I said, as I stood near her, and she nodded her head in acknowledgement, smiled but continued singing the song. She finished the last verse of the song and said “what a beautiful little girl” and offered me cherries from her basket. Her skin was completely bronze from all the work in the sun and her hands were visibly rough. “How do you know the song” I asked her (I had heard the song before in my school).

With her dazzling eyes looking at me, she replied “This song is my life, and” – she stood up – “This is what keeps me alive.”

I looked at her in confusion, and she smiled and told me that she prays for Afghanistan every day and that this land has given her everything she has and that it is like her mother. She told me that she lost her husband and her only son in a war to protect this country. She said she is lucky to be breathing in this air and living free in this beautiful country. The passion she had in her voice when she was talking amazed me, and I was completely in awe. I could not believe how positive and inspiring she was in spite of losing her family in the war and working at hard labour at that age. It wasn’t long before my parents called out for me, and I had to leave and get back to the picnic area.

I have never forgotten the lady’s face and how enthusiastic and lively she was. I could not imagine the pain she must have been through after losing her husband and son, but even then, she had this positive attitude towards life, which taught me that one should enjoy every moment of our lives no matter what we go through. She taught me that with a positive attitude, life is beautiful no matter what situation you go through in life. I swore to the god I believe in, that I would live my life to the fullest, and, above all, I would have a positive attitude towards everything. I have had several challenges in life, we moved to another country, which meant a totally different culture, language and environment. But it was the optimism that I learned from her, that helped me get through all the challenges and has instilled the self-belief in me that I can do anything in this world. —634 Words