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Squash Appears Filled With Letters, Symbols 

BY KATHY STEPHENSON 
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE 

PHOTO

An opened banana squash at Kasim
Barakzia's downtown Salt Lake City
restaurant on Thursday yielded seeds
that appeared to be marked with letters
or symbols from several languages.
Barakzia has been cutting squash for
years, and says ordinarily, seeds are
smooth and unmarked.
(Ryan Galbraith/The Salt Lake Tribune)

Cutting into a 15-pound banana squash Thursday, Kasim Barakzia thought perhaps he had lost his gourd. 

The owner of Salt Lake City's Baba Afghan Restaurant, 55 E. 400 South, noticed strange white etchings on the normally smooth seeds, which resemble those from a pumpkin, inside the thick-skinned winter squash. 

"I looked at one seed, and then another," said Barakzia, soon realizing that almost all had unusual white markings. The restaurateur said he thought the squash was rotten or diseased, but after inspection and a tasting, Barakzia declared "it was perfect." 

Barakzia said his restaurant has cut into two or three banana squash every day for the past nine years and he has never seen anything like this. Two other banana squash also supplied to the restaurant were filled with the usually smooth seeds. 

On left, Kasim Barakzia's drawing
of the Arabic symbol he
recognized engraved into several
of the squash seeds which is
Arabic for Allah. On right is a 
close-up of the Allah symbol.

"It's a bizarre situation," he said, pointing out the etchings, some that resemble the letters A, T, E and F and the numbers 4 and 14. Other seeds had markings that looked like a tree and bird. Barakzia said a few of the seeds had the symbol for Allah, the Arabic word for God. One seed had the Arabic letter baa, a kind of "u" with a dot underneath. 

On left, mathematical
Pi symbol; on right,
engraved yellow
squash seed.

Barakzia, whose fingers had turned yellow by Thursday afternoon from sifting through the squash's hundred or so seeds, said he believes some of the etchings look like Japanese, Chinese and even Hindu letters. 

"I would like someone who knows these languages to come and look," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "Maybe there is a message for someone." 

On the other hand, it could be that "the seed coat has cracked and it is basically opening up and starting to germinate inside the squash," Maggie Wolf, a horticulturist with Utah State University Extension Office, surmised. "Although we would probably have to look at it to see what was happening." 

Barakzia asked numerous lunchtime diners to look at the unique seeds, which he had laid out on black trays near the cash register of his adjacent Oriental rug and pottery business. 

At least one customer wondered if some sort of insect had created the etchings since the thin film that characteristically covers the seeds was still intact. 

"It was probably worms," said diner Lori McConnel. 

"They are very interesting," added Andrew Sanders, another diner who is fluent in Arabic and confirmed the Allah symbol. 

When asked if someone could be playing a hoax on him, Barakzia shook his head. "It's a lot of work if it's a joke." 

 

Copyright 2010 Tim Stouse
Last modified: December 10, 2010
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