Such quirks of destiny have never been better explained than by the delightful story, aptly named ‘ Death in Tehran, which goes like this:
Once upon a time, a rich merchant was approached by his servant who was in a dreadful state, trembling and weeping inconsolably. Eventually, the servant spluttered the reason for his condition. He had been approached by the Angel of Death who had had cast his eyes on him in a terrible stare of intent and now he desperately needed a horse to escape his fate by fleeing to the capital, Tehran.
Reluctantly, the merchant agreed and the servant, taking to his heels, was gone in an instant.
A little while later, the merchant himself came across the Angel of Death while walking in his garden. Stepping closer, he asked why he had frightened his servant so with such a ferocious stare.
‘Ferocious stare??’, retorted the Angel, ‘you are greatly mistaken. No, it was not a stare at all. Seeing him in your garden, I was merely perplexed as to what he might be doing there!’
‘And why is that?’ asked the merchant.
‘Because I have instructions to take his life on the road to Tehran, later tonight.’
This deliciously subtle tale tells us that we cannot escape our fate and that, even if we were so deluded as to believe we might, would simply meet it a little further down the road of Life.
I often think of this story in connection with my own destiny: to have escaped the Islamic Revolution which swept across my adopted homeland like a whirlwind and to have settled among islands which I had, quite honestly, until then never heard of, much less identified with. And yet, now here I am, living here as if there was never any question that I would. Even those who initiated the move to Seychelles, the Pahlavis, by buying the island, have gone. I alone have stayed.
When I ponder it, I do not doubt that the same subtlety and sleight of hand present in the story, is at work here, too. It’s as if my move to these islands, in all its fantastic improbability, was somehow planned. Preordained. It’s as if, from the very beginning, even from that very time I was growing up on a dairy farm in Somerset, wheels were being set in motion to bring me here by however roundabout a route. Iran, with all of its huge significance for me: my home, family, friends, studies, spiritual orientation, fascination… was only a mirage. A simple way-station on a longer journey..to a place I had never heard of.