The members of the press and their friends, including the Director of the Board, the real custos morum, watching against any possibility that could have corrupted public morals, or manners, or language, embraced Catherine and Jacob most enthusiastically after the film ended and the lights were turned up again, as they all found their film, ‘The Kitchen Junket’, a success, a film which filled them with a feeling which effaced everything else for two hours, a film to eternize the hearts racing out of beat, in one journalist’s words, then together with the entire cast and crew, singing and joking, they headed to a rustic estate waiting for them to celebrate, filled for the occasion, symbolically, with junkets and old wine.
After a ridiculous rigmarole of searching, René noticed Apolline’s eyes finally lingering on a plumply shaped perfume bottle, and as he did not want to discourage her he said nothing, he only turned his eyes to the raindrops sliding down the window and rain and raindrops and rain on her parade and as right as rain came into his mind, and other words, many, while she went through the usual rigmorole of arguments in favour of and against buying the perfume, and after she finally bought it, he proposed they should have a coffee before the airplane departure, and as they reached the bar, they involuntarily overheard two people, already seated, conversing about the fatwa of the day, while they, too tired to talk, only sat down, and drank the coffee in silence.
After the delicate texture of Ambroise Thomas’ Mignon at the Met, they had diner, and to their contentation they found a table for two, and they set down and to amuse herself, the lovely and always ridibund Apolline ordered a Filet Mignon, while René stuck to his favorite one, Chateaubriand, and while waiting they kept salivating and talking, he thinking about the thick steak cut from the tenderloin, sliced into thin strips and topped with melted butter and parsley and Béarnaise sauce, and as it took some time until their stakes arrived, they had a lovely conversation exchanging ideas about Goethe’s ‘Wilhelm Meister’ and Faust and Plato’s aeon, his eternal world of ideas, and so engaged in conversation, from some distance, their words seemed to be singing a graceful duet.
Shayana sat on a bench in sunshine and enjoyed the lovely atmosphere of the park, with children playing everywhere, and dogs and laughter, and thought how lovely summer is, then as a sound attracted her attention, a sound one hears when something is uprooted, she turned her eyes towards the source of sound and noticed a juniper boscage with weeds growing up through it, and she thought them to look like wild clowns, the way hobbledehoys, giving flippant answers to subtle questions, look among those blessed with eloquence, and smiled, and then she noticed the Dollar weed in front of them looking as if trying to spread through the bright, green blades of St. Augustine grass, and looking at them it seemed to her that they were haggling with the new gardener, without any success though, as one by one he was uprooting them.
I have seen more than once a frabjous day all stripped of all the tedium, continuously swaying with the hours until the time of brilling, a day for beamish gazes and demeanor and cartographic poem-allegories conceived, as those of Lewis Carroll to satirize and map some literary critics and some pretentious poetry behavior.
Shayana had a reminiscence of a koan, perhaps her favourite one, a koan in which a powerful landlord finding out that a spiritual master, who claimed to know where the heaven was, was living on his land, went to see him and demanded him to show him the heaven, and the spiritual master, obliging, grabbed a stick from the ground and struck the landlord’s head, but she could not remember whether or not the blow produced a change in the landlord, and whether or not some sort of a diaphanous light appeared to him as a murmuring elegy for the landlord he was before coming to see the spiritual master.
Totally agog over everything that is improvisation, indeed, with an enthusiasm impossible to extenuate, Robin soaked her permeable mind into all sorts of affective and thoughtful extravagances, wildly in excess, excess unrestrained, to bereave herself of illusory precision, prediction or permanence.
It was the first day of the 3rd Month of Shomu, which meant that it was a very favourable day, at least that’s what they were told, the day of the great feast in the southern heaven, when Hathor and every land and body were in festivity, a day during which they learned that indeed the Cairo Calendar was right as it was at Wikalat Bazar'a, an old caravansary, where, to their greatest surprise and joy, they found a splendid lapis-lazuli menat, a necklace with a counterweight, which actually is a percussion instrument sacred to Hathor, the goddess of joy, who as a fire-spitting uraeus resides on the forehead of Ra together forming a parental-imago, and two statuettes, one of Imhotep the Wise holding a papyrus on his knees, a scribe who was deified, and another of Ptah, the primal creator who has fashioned the universe through words.
After roaming about the old library, with a stack of books and magazines in her arms, all emanating a scent reminiscent of sweet fruits, she finally found a table near the window, pulled a chair out from under the table, hanged her squamous looking bag off the back of the chair, sat down and grabbed the Imago literary journal, which was placed on top of the stack, and browsed through it until a line in a poem, sounding like a wild, plaintive cry of a bird, caught her eye.
The sonnets of Guido Cavalcanti, perhaps called Tuscan in a jactation of a dialectologist, she set to music to resonate with her lute, with the softness of her voice painting a landscape “fashioned out in ways of gentleness”, with her almost fretting fingers pressing the strings against the fret, pressing all tones to rise in pitch, to reach the picks, an epitome of loftiness vibrating toward Orazio Gentileschi's young lutenist, placed on an easel in front of her, intently listening.
The Sphinx of black quarts disappeared and we promptly judged that it would be better to wend our way from the Imbaba bridge to an antique shop filled with scintillating ivory buckles inscribed with the words ‘my vow’, and then further, for the next prize was to be ours, so a judge said, only if we could come up with an answer encapsulating at least one pangram containing the word ‘shinney’ (in its new version, he insisted, where the equipment of the game was made out of words), then when we were about to receive the prize, quick flashes, as if throwing off sparks, appeared and I woke up, then slowly got ready and checked out of the hotel, as it was our last day in Cairo before flying back home.
Shayana told me that she never watched Reality Comedy Series such as La La Land or Shameless (which she found to be not only an extraordinary embarrassment (to put it mildly) to British comedy, but also a program that, if watched, would make any sensitive person lose the will to live), and that her eclectic taste was embracing works ranging from Henry Powers’ Burlesque Painting and Arvo Pärt's "Los Angeles" Symphony to Plato’s and Shakespeare’s works (which apparently were at the time more popular than Middleton’s Farrago).
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