Sheep Heads and a Moment of Perfection


Sheep Heads and a Moment of Perfection
by Temporary Bride

Vahid’s question was probably not so strange. For someone who had never had sex, and had the idea that Western women had sex at every opportunity and with whomever they could - it was possibly almost normal to assume that I would be expecting to ‘get some action’ while I was in his country.

I gently explained that sex wasn’t such a big deal. That I hadn’t had a boyfriend in over 9 months and before that I’d had a fairly protracted ‘dry spell’. We laughed at the expression ‘dry spell’ and for the first time, I started to feel at ease with him.

Vahid told me about being a student and about going to parties in Tehran. He told me about how some of his friends had slept with girls in university and how one of his cousins was a maths professor who gave his female students higher grades in exchange for sexual favours. 

“What about you?” I asked. “What about me?”, he said. “Well have you ever done anything?” I pressed. His expression turned serious. “I kissed a girl once at a party, but I didn’t love her.”

We walked a slightly different route to my hotel and as we passed a mosque, Vahid resumed the lecturing, tour guide mode that he had used so much with me in the few days that I had known him. I smiled and rolled my eyes at him.

“Aren’t you interested in monuments?” he asked but my attention had already moved on to a butcher shop with a tray of sheep’s heads stacked in the window. 

“They are for making kalleh pacheh,” he said. “It is a soup made from sheep heads and feet that we eat early in the mornings.” Seeing my excitement he continued. “It has a lot of fat in it, so we eat it before going on long hikes in the mountains. It is really delicious.” 

Vahid looked at me at first like I was an alien, and then he smiled, a sense of comprehension spreading across his face.

“I understand now!” he exclaimed. “You aren’t interested in monuments or historical places. You are only interested in food! You came to Iran for its food!”  

“Yes!” I cheered.  He struck his hand to his forehead in comprehension. “Aha! So I will plan the rest of your days in Yazd for you. We will have a food adventure.” 

I couldn’t believe my ears - it was too good to be true. In the last few hours Vahid had made a transformation from youth curmudgeon to my personal hero.

Vahid, looking pleased with himself to be my new food ambassador, sketched out a plan for the following day. 

“We will have to start early,” he said, “at 5am to have kalleh pacheh, and then I will ask for the pastry shop that you liked to show us how they make their baklava. And you mentioned you wanted to see the butcher that has camel meat.”

He scrawled a set of precise instructions in Farsi and handed me the piece of paper. “I am going to meet you at 5am to start our day tomorrow. Hand this to the taxi driver so he will know where to come to pick me up so we can get started.” I took my instructions like an eager schoolchild and Vahid walked me home.

As we passed through the bazaar with its stone walls and overhanging lights I had a sudden urge to sing. 

“Would you like me to sing to you?” Vahid asked. 

“Can you sing?” I asked. 

“Yes, my friends say that I have a good voice.” And as we walked, Vahid began to sing a melody in Farsi.  

I have never, ever had anyone sing to me in my life before, but this I know: if you are going to have someone serenade you, let them to do it when there is a full moon. Let each note of their voice bounce off the arches of a low-ceilinged bazaar and echo along its cobbled passageways.  Let the dim lighting elongate your shadows into tall and majestic personages. 

Let the shop doors be locked, let the bazaaris be gone home so that you are accompanied only by the tender sounds of your footsteps scratching lightly over thousand year old stones.

If there is an experience that will make make you feel like everything that has happened in your life was simply to lead you to this place to feel such a complete sense of perfection and wonder - this has to be it.

We reached the heavy, wooden door of my hotel and stopped, our feet shuffling along the dusty stone floors. “Did you like my song?” he asked. “Yes, it was beautiful,” I said quietly.

“Bye” he said abruptly spinning around. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”


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