Last night we gobbled down a creamy pasta that was a dinner request by Arabella for her boyfriend who is now the ex-boyfriend and goes by the title of ‘special friend’. Just after finishing our creamy pasta Arabella’s phone rang and it was The Tailor who was asking if we were on our way to his home for the fitting. ‘Oh sorry’, said Arabella, ‘We’re just finishing our dinner and then we’re leaving. We should be there at eight if that’s okay’.
‘We wait for you to have dinner.’
‘Oh no, sorry, I didn’t know we were invited for dinner. I thought we were just coming for a fitting. I’m really sorry but we’ve just eaten.’
‘What time you come?’
‘We’re leaving now. Sorry you’ve been waiting but you go ahead and eat and we’ll be there soon’.
So Arabella, Fred and I rushed out to the car with our stomachs groaning from having gulped down our dinner and we drove in sheet rain but cheered ourselves up by scoffing down chocolate-coated sultanas.
An hour later we arrived and were welcomed at the door by the tailor’s tiny wife who greeted us warmly. She is so short in stature I felt like a neanderthal. I had to bend down to greet her and she kissed me on both cheeks several times and called me ‘Sister’. Arabella had to fold herself in half to greet her and the tailor’s wife kissed her and called her ‘Daughter’ and I resisted saying, ‘You can have her’.
I took a few steps inside the tiny townhouse and saw the material for Arabella’s formal dress lying in one complete piece on the kitchen table. I thought we were there for a fitting and the fabric hadn’t even been cut out. I did a quick mental calculation and noted that Arabella needed to be wearing that material in around 19 hours. Stress levels rising.
We were asked if we would like cups of tea and the tea arrived, black and on a tray accompanied by a large pot of Iranian sugar lumps and no milk jug in sight. We thanked his wife for the black tea.
I wondered what Arabella was there to try on but then the tailor produced a calico mock-up of the intended dress that she slipped on and the tailor made the necessary adjustments/alterations and I thought we were free to leave. Not that I was in a hurry to rush out of there but I thought the sooner we left the sooner he could start and I don’t know much about sewing but I had a feeling this was not a simple assignment.
I grabbed my handbag but then we were asked to sit in the very small lounge room where there was only enough seating for me, Fred and Arabella.
‘You try Middle Eastern soup’, said the tailor. I couldn’t fit in another thing. ‘Oh, thanks anyway. We’d love to. But we’ve only just had our dinner and we’re quite full’. But he handed me an enormous bowl of steaming spicy soup with a spoon and stood there grinning. ‘You try. Special soup. Has noodles. Lots of spices’. I knew there was no way I was leaving without eating that soup but as it was such a large bowl I handed it to Fred. ‘I would love to try it but could I just have a tiny amount because we just had pasta’, and he smiled at me, went into the kitchen and returned with a bowl piled higher than the one I’d just given Fred.
Arabella was panicking. She didn’t want to eat another dinner. I called out to the kitchen, ‘Arabella’s very full and she has a dress she needs to squeeze into tomorrow night so if she could just have a small amount.’ But Arabella was given no less than what Fred and I had been given.
I had no idea what was in the soup. I could only distinguish noodles and legumes. ‘Is this vegetarian?’ I tactfully asked. ‘Yes, vegetarian’.
‘Oh, that’s great. Looks delicious’, I said.
‘Vegetarian chicken? Lovely’. Then he went back out into the kitchen and returned with a knife and aplate of grilled marinated chicken that he cut up and served to us.
As we were seated on the only bits of furniture the tailor and his wife sat on the floor in front of us and ate with us. They hadn’t eaten. They had waited for us. And after the soup and the chicken there were cakes. Little banana and chocolate cakes fresh from the oven. And we politely ate everything they had so generously prepared and all the leftovers were then bundled into containers and given to us as gifts. Along with some homemade gifts of pickled garlic and pickled vegetables.
We gave them nothing.
The tailor told us we could collect the dress in the morning.
We wished him well.
We left there with our stomachs churning and groaning from our two huge dinners and our stress levels rising from that vision of the long piece of pale-pink silk lying on the kitchen table that had a lengthy night ahead of it.
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