Many many many years ago, the richest man in Persia decided to take an evening stroll in his beautiful, vast garden.
He had always dreamed of owning such a garden, it was bigger than the next 10 largest gardens in the city combined and was envy of all his friends and yet this evening stroll was a very rare occurrence in the 21 years he had owned the garden.
Not long into the walk, the memory of himself as a 15-year-old builder’s apprentice came to him. He remembered those long, back breaking days when he woke up every morning ready to quit, to run away and join a band of travelling musicians or become a fisherman like his father and yet it was the thought of one day owning such a garden as this that kept him going.
He smiled at himself, few people today knew of his humble beginnings, and he was happy that his 15-year-old self had found the strength to not ruin his life.
At that moment a pink rose caught his eye, and he bent down to smell it, “Ah it’s not a rose” he said to himself, it’s a Tulip and the smell brought back memories of the many walks with his mother as a child.
She would always point out the different flowers they saw to him, while he struggled to feign an interest. She seemed to know every single flower they saw and always knew some obscure fact about them.
She knew for example that Tulips will bend and twist to grow towards light (even in a vase!). "The ultimate sun tanning addicts!" she always made that same joke whenever she mentioned this fact, which she did often and he always rolled his eyes and laughed when she did.
He was surprised he remembered much of it, despite his lack of interest at the time, funny how the memory works he said to himself and then his mind wandered off as it often did.
He was very happy that evening, for he was truly lucky and felt he had lived the best of all lives possible, everyone said this, and he believed them, didn’t he?...
Soon however he heard his stomach rumbling and decided to walk back to the house for dinner. He braced himself for the walk back though because he knew his wife would be waiting, ready to discuss the plans she was making for their trip to Egypt.
Their trip to Egypt had been a promise he made to her 30 years ago when they were newlyweds and finally they were finally going to make the trip.
Although he proclaimed loudly to anyone who would listen that he would rather not leave his business for so long to go off galivanting on some kind of geriatric honeymoon, he was secretly looking forward to it, in fact he was probably more excited about the trip than his wife.
As a child he had been fascinated by stories of the pyramids and now he was finally going to see them and make up for lost time with his wife.
And besides, he had many good people to look after the business in his absence… If he had one skill, perhaps his only real talent, it was finding the right people to work for him and ensuring that they did so…Don’t worry he thought to himself, everything will be ok.
All of sudden he heard someone shout his name and turned around to see his favourite servant running towards him as fast as he had ever seen anyone run. At first, he was about to laugh and tease his servant for it was so strange to see him move so fast.
His nickname for the servant was tortoise because that was pace at which he moved through life, everything he did, from the way he greeted him in the morning with his cup of mint tea to polishing his shoes, he did as if he had all the time in the world.
It seemed to everyone that the servant really did believe he had all the time in the world and that the eternal ticking countdown of the clock was merely a distant rumour from an unreliable source.
Although he never failed to tease him about this, it was the thing the rich Persian liked the most about his servant, he was an outplaced oasis of calm in his otherwise hectic life.
But then the rich Persian saw the fear in his servant's eyes…“What is it Tortoise?!!” he shouted, “Who is chasing you?!”
“Death, my lord, Death!!!” Tortoise cried out “I saw him back there and he said he was coming for me”, “Please my lord, give me your fastest horse so I may reach Tehran by midnight and escape this horrible fate”.
The rich Persian was in a state of shock, perhaps Tortoise was mistaken or perhaps it was someone playing a prank on him, probably the Persian’s youngest child… but then again Tortoise’s terror was very real and so he consented, and Tortoise gratefully galloped off on his master’s fastest horse towards Tehran.
His was still in a state of shock when he reached his house, he went straight to his bathroom to calm himself and wash his face before joining the others for dinner. He was still thinking about what had just happened when he looked in the mirror in front of him and saw Death standing behind him.
He turned around full of anger, he was a man used to deference and despite facing Death, his habitual manner took over.
Looking Death straight in the eye, he demanded, “How dare you terrify and threaten my favourite servant?”, “Do you know who I am and that he is under my protection?!, Well do you? Answer me!!”
Death looked back at him, with a smile that was half mocking, half admiring “I did not threaten him my lord; I only showed surprise in still finding him here in your beautiful garden when I planned to meet him tonight in Tehran,” said Death.
“Then what are you doing here?” the rich Persian asked slowly, although he already knew the answer as he asked, “I came for you my lord” came the whispered reply “But fear not, you and tortoise will be reunited by the time the cock crows tomorrow morning”
"We are all heading towards to the same destination so we might as well do our best to make the journey enjoyable for everyone, this is our real joint venture"