August 2013: A Classic Iraqi Tale
August is nearing its finish. I missed the mid-month mark for my blog entry as I was on holidays — took a week off to check out Kootenay National Park and Radium Hot Springs in BC. Wonderful place! I highly recommend taking a time-out from the rat race in this quite little corner of the world.
As for taking breaks, I decided I would cheat a little this month and share a tale I came across in a marvelous book by Will Schwalbe chronicling how he processes the life and death of his mother in a beautifully written memoir entitled, The End of Your Life Book Club (2012, pp. 21-22).
In a ‘convenient’ twist, this coincides with the approaching end of August that also marks the ending of summer. While the weather may not be convinced, and the lunar calendar declares its still summer well into September, the yearly routines shift gears in the coming weeks.
As you consider the shifts in seasons and schedules, keep in mind this little tale.
Appointment in Samarra
(classic Iraqi tale)
There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, “Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.”
The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?” “That was not a threatening gesture,” I said, “it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him Baghdad for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”