of witches that blow onto knots, and from the evil of the envier when he envieth.
My aunt passed the wooden spoon to my mother, who stirred vigorously for a while before passing it to me. The fire was so low that it took us an hour to brown the flour and the nuts in turns. As we kept stirring, the doorbell rang several times and more women arrived for the occasion. The slowly heating up kitchen, the growing crowd, and the melodic prayer eventually sent my mother into tears. When the mixture had turned golden brown, my aunt poured into it a large jug of sweetened milk and stirred some more. As the prayer came to an end, she announced that the halva was ready. Shaking her head several times, she said: “Ah Ameli, it fell upon me to make your halva.” She then looked up as if looking at the sky instead of the whitewashed ceiling and said: “ Helal olsun! ” A short silence ensued. Scents of butter, flour, nuts, milk and sugar wafted in the kitchen and mingled with our sighs. My mother started to scoop out little balls of halva on porcelain forget- me-not plates. I covered some with paper napkins, stacked them on a large tray, and hurried out into the building to take them to the neighbors. My mother prepared more plates for the visitors in the lounge.
It was 18th November 2013. My grandmother Ameli had been gone for a year and we had gathered to honor her life.