Persian Delight: Part Two.

by | Nov 7, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

He drained the cup and held it up to the patron. The vessel was immediately recharged and placed in front of him.

The old man gestured to the large silver tray of food, and I immediately obeyed. I spooned some of the sabzi onto the rice, mixed it and placed it in my mouth. The explosion of flavour blew away my concerns and he nodded eagerly, shifting on his seat.

Swallowing the tasty mixture with a piece of bread I tore from the fresh disc, I addressed him. “I beg your pardon? If you’ve never met me, may I ask how you know so much about me?”

“As I said, I have been looking for you. It is not by chance that I entered these premises and contrived the dispute with the patron.” As he spoke I continued to eat while examining my companion further. I tried to guess his age but there were aspects which contradicted each other. His eyes were that of a young boy planted in the face  that could be a century old. There had been no evidence of restricted movement which comes with the advancement of time. Equally his hands were as dextrous as a concert pianist with no evidence of joint deterioration or wrinkles; the third finger of his right hand was decorated with a large gold ring.

I concluded that this man was a paradox both physically and spiritually, the feeling that I had been transported to another world and time gnawed at me.

He drained the cup and held it up to the patron. The vessel was immediately recharged and placed in front of him. He continued. “Equally, it is not by choice that you are here enjoying the meal you last had before you met her.”

Even the exquisite flavour of my favourite meal could not cancel out the thoughts exploding in my head at these comments. What was happening was yet another anomaly. This time between my ears. I felt a sense of calm which covered the underlying hysteria like a warm duvet.

“Tell me what you want of me old man,” I blurted out. The words were not of my making.

“You will write a story. A story such as this has never been written before. What is more, the tale you will relate is true and is still developing as we speak,”he said, his eyes glinting with youthful exuberance.

“I’m sorry, story? What story? I can’t help you. If, as you say, you know me, you’ll be aware of my situation.” I pushed the half finished meal away. He nodded at the tray and suddenly my appetite returned, as if I hadn’t consumed a morsel. I set about the food like a starving man.

“That’s better, enjoy what you came for. Don’t let this minor challenge defeat you. You will finish Sesame Seed, Hypnagogia and Esacallier. In addition, your Parisian novel will be a triumph. However, first you must help me.” He smiled and his two rows of yellowing teeth in no way detracted from its warmth.

It was as if a warm liquid had been injected into my veins. Every sense was heightened. The food took on another level of delight, the smell of the grill tickled my nostrils and the surrounding conversation floated in the air like music. I smiled back, a tiny involuntary chuckle dancing in my chest.

I recalled the feeling, when I sucked on a cylinder of Nitrous Oxide after breaking my ankle thirty years previously. I was in the spell of this old wizard.

“Tonight you will dream of a place far away yet here in this very room. You will wake at four a.m. You must recall the reverie in its entirety,” he said, downing the second cup.

“Dream. Tonight. Four.” I heard myself repeat, from somewhere else in the room.

“Excellent! My work here is done. I must go now. It has been a long time coming.” With that, the man jumped up, replaced his chair and danced out of the shop.

Wiping the tray with the last piece of bread, which I washed down with the sweet brew, I tried to reflect on the last thirty minutes or so. Everything seemed to return to normal. The sights, smells and sounds found their correct order in my senses.

I got up and approached the counter. What emanated from my lips shocked me. I began to converse with the owner in fluent Persian.

“May I pay please? How much?” I asked pulling out my wallet.

“Ten sir,” replied the other man, with a slight bow.

“Surely not. We had at least three teas and the bread.” I took out fifteen pounds and handed it to him.

“I’m sorry sir, we?” The patron looked over my shoulder. I followed his gaze. My breath froze in my lungs as I observed my place at the table. One tray, one plate and one cup.

“But the old man, my companion. You argued with him,” I exclaimed, to which the owner gave a puzzled smile. He glanced around the room, collecting looks from other diners. They all stared at me, then the table.

“There was no such man.” He smiled sympathetically, with a slight raising of his eyes. “Ten, please.” He took the tenner from my hand and placed it in the till.

My mouth opened to speak but nothing came out. I couldn’t even remember my last two Persian phrases.

“Have a good day sir. Come back soon,” the man said, in English. He nodded then returned to his grill, deftly turning the kebabs over the flames.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Mystifying

    Reply

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