Nawrooz was born in Central Asian to parents of different ethnic origins whose marriage had been arranged. This couple barely knew each other before they created the marriage union. In the western world, when it comes to marriage, two loving hearts get together and create a union. In her world it was different; when it comes to marriage in the Muslim world, often times two families come together and they unite their children in a union.
When Nawrooz came into this world, her name was chosen for her by her paternal great grandfather. According to Islam, the child should be given a beautiful name that does not mean anything bad. The oldest member of the family chooses the best name, with the best meaning. And so hers was chosen with the utmost care and with the hope that she would grow into what her name meant. She was given a name with a very beautiful meaning. Later in her life, Nawrooz would grow into the real meaning of her name. The name giving was followed by the ceremony of whispering Az’an into her right ear. These are the very first Arabic words that Nawrooz heard as a baby. When Az’an was whispered in her ear, according to Muslim traditions and beliefs, Nawrooz was proclaimed a Muslim.
Years pass and Nawrooz grew into a beautiful girl. Her curiosity, her love for books, her thirst for knowledge and a love for languages were her loyal companions wherever she would go. She was given the role of a peacemaker in her family. She was a good Muslim girl pleasing the temper of her father and being a shoulder to cry on for her mother. Nawrooz learned early about shame and honor and how to protect her family. By the age of ten, Nawrooz memorized several chapters from the Qur’an that every respectful Muslim person should know. Nawrooz would recite these chapters for certain occasions or like a mantra to keep herself safe from the evil spirits.
Her childhood was spent between two diverse grandparents’ homes, one Persian speaking and another Russian speaking. Both grandmothers were different; one was like a hawk ready to strike an innocent creature that is completely unaware of danger. The other grandmother was like a soft and sweet gentle breeze that comes as a reward at the end of day, after a scorching day’s heat. One grandmother taught her how to be afraid and another how to love.
By the age of ten Nawrooz had known many tears and hardships. But they did not break her curious spirit. On one occasion, she came across a cartoon on TV, called Super Book. She was fascinated by the heroes in the cartoon. The majority of the heroes were from similar stories that she had heard earlier in the Hadith or Qur’an. But one of the heroes in this cartoon had a different purpose. He was called the Son of God. Nawrooz knew that it could not be the truth. She was taught that God did not have any children and He especially did not have any sons. At the end of the cartoon, there was an address that children could write to and request a brochure and a free book about the Son of God. Nawrooz’s curious personality could not miss this opportunity. One morning, right before school, she wrote a letter and sent it to the cartoon address. She could not wait until the moment the promised package would come. Can you imagine the excitement of 10-year-old Nawrooz when she came home and was handed a large yellow envelope that was inspected by her mother earlier that day. What do you think was inside?
Part Two of the story to come….