Jack was snooping.
Not really sinful snooping, because he was, in fact spying on what belonged to him. He should’ve been politely listening to his good neighbor Sami Faraz, only the voice and earlier ranting of Jack’s bride Ruby, echoed in his ears instead, and those words spoiled everything.
“Why should I sweep? Those ‘dusty leaves and mess’ you hate so much, are what give our garden its charm. And I will never agree to chop that tree down. Do you hear me Jack? Never. Ever!”
He heard her. Although he hoped slamming the door on his way out made her think otherwise. Gathering folding chairs from his perfectly ordered little garage, he had quickly escaped Ruby’s angry missiles and that troublesome tree with its litter of leaves, to the safety of next door.
“Many many thanks, such a big help,” Sami said, even before Jack had reached the top of the side porch steps. “Come in, let me take those from you. Such good neighbors to help for such a happy day.”
In seconds, Jack had been warmly gathered into the Faraz home, where busy preparations were underway for their daughter Leily's wedding. Greeted by a parade of industry, Jack watched as the happy gaggle of Persian aunts and cousins laughed and joked in the large kitchen, elbowing each other out of the way as they prepared what looked like a harvest festival. Tables groaned under covered dishes festooned with fruit, nuts and pastries. But Jack, who had never been inside before, was lured curiously to the generous bay window, by the vista of his own property.
This new vantage point, was perfect for snooping.
Just as he thought, the yard was in chaos. Didn’t matter from which angle you regarded it, that liquid amber tree was being a right old drama queen. Scarlet leaves were strewn over his manicured lawn, covering it up like a starlet’s dressing room veiled in feather boas.
Hessian bags dotted the yard, overflowing with leaves he had collected this very morning, waiting to be tied up and stashed away. One had tipped sideways, spilling debris in defiance. Leaning against Ruby’s beloved tree, the wheelbarrow he was sure he had parked in the shed, slumped like a sleepy drunkard, in a humiliating display of garden shambles. So preoccupied was he with his spying, Jack barely took in Sami’s chatter.
“ ... And even though the boy is young, we say ‘OK Kasra, you can marry our Leily, but wait for next year’s autumn. Give yourself time to grow, yeah?’ And here we are already. Tomorrow we have wedding day!” Sami reached out to take the last of the chairs Jack had delivered, and whispered. “Still not grow up much though, this Kasra. His mouth still smell like milk!” he laughed at his own joke, shaking his head.
“Why autumn?” Jack asked, turning around.
“ My friend, Persians lay the wedding table with the best fruits of autumn. We show pictures of the future with magnificent gems.” Sami replied.
Moving to the sideboard he reached for a large rosy fruit and held it up like a trophy.
“Pomegranate. Only ripe in autumn.”
He waved a finger. “No Persian wedding without pomegranates. When the bride leaves home for last time, she step on one. Boom! How many seeds inside is how many babies coming.”
The two men grinned at each other.
“We decorate with the fruits of life, ripened by God Almighty himself. Apples, walnuts and almonds for fertility, bread and honey for sweet friendship, and roses...” He stopped beside a huge vase of blood red blooms complete with ugly thorns and nodded slowly.
“ We wish for sweet days, that’s why we serve sugar cakes. Still, we must tell bride and groom the truth. Like roses, marriage can be a beautiful but somedays painful bond. But Persians say, ‘Write kindness in marble, write injuries in the dust....’ ”
Jack’s gaze drifted to the window again.
Ruby was outside now, sweeping the garden paths, her copper curls catching the afternoon sunlight. He watched as she peeled off her cardigan haphazardly, and tossed it tangled and inside out, onto the handles of the wheelbarrow.
Never before had he spied a more beautiful scene than that one. Never. Ever. What a fool he’d been.
“....at my wedding, my father, he says, ‘Sami, the wise man sits on the hole in his carpet.’ ”
Jack smiled. “On my wedding day, my father said, ‘Love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.’ ”
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