بخش 74

کتاب: ملت عشق / فصل 74

بخش 74

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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Aladdin

KONYA, JUNE 1246

By Allah, I had never been so embarrassed in my life. As if it weren’t shameful enough to see my own father in cahoots with a heretic, I had to suffer the mortification of watching him lead a dance performance. How could he disgrace himself like that in front of the whole town? On top of this, I was utterly appalled when I heard there was among the audience a harlot from the brothel. As I sat there wondering how much more madness and destruction my father’s love for Shams could cause us all, for the first time in my life I wished to be the son of another man.

To me the entire performance was sheer sacrilege. But what happened afterward was far beyond the pale. How could that insolent man find the nerve to pour scorn on our ruler? He is very lucky that Kaykhusraw didn’t have him arrested on the spot and sent to the gallows.

When I saw Sheikh Yassin walk out after Kaykhusraw, I knew I had to do the same. The last thing I wanted was for the townspeople to think that I was on the side of a heretic. Everyone had to see once and for all that, unlike my brother, I wasn’t my father’s puppet.

That night I didn’t go home. I stayed at Irshad’s house with a few friends. Overcome with emotion, we talked about the day’s events and discussed at great length what to do.

“That man is a terrible influence on your father,” said Irshad tautly. “And now he has brought a prostitute into your house. You need to clean your family’s name, Aladdin.” As I stood listening to the things they said, my face burning with a scalding shame, one thing was clear to me: Shams had brought us nothing but misery.

In unison we reached the conclusion that Shams had to leave this town—if not willingly, then by force.

The next day I went back home determined to talk to Shams of Tabriz man to man. I found him alone in the courtyard, playing the ney, his head bowed, his eyes closed, his back turned to me. Fully immersed in his music, he hadn’t noticed my presence. I approached as quiet as a mouse, taking the opportunity to observe him and get to know my enemy better.

After what seemed like several minutes, the music stopped. Shams raised his head slightly, and without looking in my direction, he mumbled flatly, as if talking to himself, “Hey there, Aladdin, were you looking for me?” I didn’t say a word. Knowing of his ability to see through closed doors, it didn’t surprise me that he had eyes in the back of his head.

“So did you enjoy the performance yesterday?” Shams asked, now turning his face toward mine.

“I thought it was disgraceful,” I answered at once. “Let’s get something straight, shall we? I don’t like you. I never have. And I’m not going to let you ruin my father’s reputation any more than you have already.” A spark flickered in his eyes as Shams put his ney aside and said, “Is that what this is about? If Rumi’s reputation is ruined, people won’t look up to you as the son of an eminent man anymore. Does that scare you?” Determined not to let him get under my skin, I ignored his mordant remarks. Still, it was a while before I could say anything.

“Why don’t you go and leave us in peace? We were so good before you came,” I shot back. “My father is a respected scholar and a family man. You two have nothing in common.” His neck craned forward, his brow furrowed in mighty concentration, Shams drew in a deep breath. Suddenly he looked old and vulnerable. It flashed through my mind that I could slug him, beat him to a pulp, before anyone could run to his rescue. The thought was so dreadful and malevolent, and yet frighteningly seducing, that I had to avert my eyes.

When I stared back at him, I found Shams inspecting me, his gaze avid, bright. Could he be reading my mind? A creepy feeling got hold of me, spreading from my hands to my feet, as if I were being pricked by a thousand needles, and my knees felt wobbly, unwilling to carry me. It must have been black magic. I had no doubt that Shams excelled in the darkest forms of sorcery.

“You are scared of me, Aladdin,” Shams said after a pause. “You know who you remind me of? The cross-eyed assistant!”

“What are you talking about?” I said.

“It’s a story. Do you like stories?”

I shrugged. “I have no time for them.”

A flicker of condescension crossed Shams’s lips. “A man who has no time for stories is a man who has no time for God,” he said. “Don’t you know that God is the best storyteller?” And without waiting for me to say anything, he told me this story:

Once there was an artisan who had a bitter assistant, who was cross-eyed to boot. This assistant always saw double. One day the artisan asked him to bring a jar of honey from storage. The assistant came back empty-handed. “But, Master, there are two jars of honey there,” he complained. “Which one do you want me to bring?” Knowing his assistant too well, the artisan said, “Why don’t you break one of the jars and bring me the other one?” Alas, the assistant was too shallow to understand the wisdom behind these words. He did as told. He broke one of the jars and was very surprised to see the other one break, too.

“What are you trying to tell me?” I asked. To display my temper in front of Shams was a mistake, but I couldn’t help it. “You and your stories! Damn it! Can’t you ever talk straight?” “But it is so clear, Aladdin. I am telling you that like the cross-eyed assistant you see dualities everywhere,” Shams said. “Your father and I are one. If you break me, you’ll break him as well.” “You and my father have nothing in common,” I riposted. “If I break the second jar, I’ll set the first one free.”

I was so full of rage and resentment that I didn’t consider the ramifications of my words. Not then. Not until much later.

Not until it was too late.

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