بخش 89

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بخش 89

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  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
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متن انگلیسی فصل

Suleiman the Drunk

KONYA, MARCH 1248

Blood, sweat, and tears. Outsiders think drinkers are lazy people who have nothing else to do. Little do they know that drinking increasing amounts of wine every day requires a lot of effort. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.

Tired and petulant, I was dozing with my head on the table, having a not-so-pleasant dream. There was a big, black bull, angry as hell, chasing me on unfamiliar streets. I ran away from the animal without a clue as to what I had done wrong to stir him up, knocking over stalls and smashing merchandise, drawing the anger of all the vendors in the bazaar. Still running, I entered a thoroughfare that turned out to be a dead-end street. And there I bumped into a mammoth egg, bigger than a house. Suddenly the egg started to hatch, and out came the ugliest baby bird ever, wet and noisy. I tried to get out of the street, but the mother bird appeared in the sky, glaring down at me as if I had been responsible for the ugliness of her baby. Just as the bird began to descend, its sharp beak and even sharper claws pointed at me, I woke up.

I opened my eyes and realized that I had fallen asleep on a table by the window. Though my mouth tasted like rusty nails and I was dying to have a drink, I felt too tired to even move. So I kept resting my heavy head on the table, sinking ever deeper into my stupor and listening to the usual sounds in the tavern.

I heard a heated argument rising and falling like the buzz of swarming bees. It came from the men sitting at the next table, and though I briefly considered the possibility of turning my head to see who they were, I did not move a muscle. And that is when I overheard that ominous word: murder.

At first I dismissed their talk as drunken ravings. One hears all sorts of things in a tavern and in time learns not to take every spoken word seriously. But there was something in their tone too menacing and potent to disregard, so I pricked my ears and listened. My jaw dropped open when it finally dawned upon me that they were serious. But even deeper was my shock when I understood who it was that they wanted to kill: Shams of Tabriz.

As soon as they left the table, I stopped feigning sleep and jumped to my feet.

“Hristos, come here! Be quick!” I yelled in panic.

“What is it this time?” Hristos came running. “Why are you so distressed?”

But I couldn’t tell. Not even him. All of a sudden, everyone looked suspicious. What if there were more people involved in this conspiracy against Shams? I had to keep my mouth shut and my eyes wide open.

“Nothing! I’m hungry, that’s all,” I said. “Could you please bring me some soup? Make it with a lot of garlic. I need to sober up!”

Hristos stared at me quizzically, but, being used to my moodiness, he did not ask me any more questions. In a few minutes, he brought me a bowl of goat-intestine soup, spicy and scorching, which I ate in haste, my tongue burning. Having sobered up sufficiently, I dashed into the street to warn Shams of Tabriz.

First I tried Rumi’s house. He wasn’t there. Then I went to the mosque, the madrassa, the teahouse, the bakery, the hamam.… I looked in every store and cellar on the street of artisans. I even checked the old Gypsy woman’s tent among the ruins, in case he had gone there to get rid of a sore tooth or a bad spell. I looked for him everywhere, my anxiety growing with every passing minute. Fear began to gnaw at me. What if it was too late? What if they had already killed him?

Hours later, not knowing where else to look, I made my way back to the tavern, downhearted and exhausted. And just like magic, only a few steps away from the tavern door, I bumped right into him.

“Hello, Suleiman. You look preoccupied,” Shams said, smiling.

“Oh, my God! You’re alive!” I exclaimed, and ran to his arms.

When he managed to pull away from my embrace, Shams stared at me, looking quite amused. “Of course I’m alive! Do I look like a ghost to you?”

I smiled, but not for long. My head ached so much that at any other time I would have downed a few bottles to get drunk as quickly as possible and doze off.

“What is it, my friend? Is everything all right?” Shams asked suspiciously.

I swallowed hard. What if he didn’t believe me when I told him about the plot? What if he thought I’d been hallucinating under the influence of wine? And perhaps I was. Even I couldn’t be sure.

“They’re planning to kill you,” I said. “I have no idea who they are. I couldn’t see their faces. You see, I was sleeping.… But I didn’t dream this. I mean, I did have a dream, but it wasn’t like this. And I wasn’t drunk. Well, I had drunk a few glasses, but I wasn’t—” Shams put his hand on my shoulder. “Calm down, my friend. I understand.”

“You do?”

“Yes. Now, go back to the tavern, and don’t you worry about me.”

“No, no! I’m not going anywhere. And neither are you,” I objected. “These people are serious. You need to be careful. You cannot go back to Rumi’s house. That is the first place they will look for you.” Oblivious to my panic, Shams stayed silent.

“Listen, dervish, my house is small and a bit stuffy. But if you don’t mind that, you can stay with me as long as you want.”

“Thank you for your concern,” Shams murmured. “But nothing happens outside of God’s will. It is one of the rules: This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. Fear not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody is setting a trap, remember, so is God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even a leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does beautifully.” Having said that, Shams gave me a wink and waved good-bye. I watched him thread his way rapidly through the muddy street in the direction of Rumi’s house, despite my warnings.

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