I learned, at this ripe stage in my life, restraint and a sort of modesty, and how to read between the lines, how to leave things unsaid.
He became expert at sidestepping their questions, staving them off with homilies while remaining a bachelor. Despite his provincial life and the fact that he had never left Iran, he was open-minded and well-read, a passionate student of politics, from Plato onwards.
We had lively discussions and he helped me to see a non-Occidental view of the world.
He had been posted there for his National Service and I had come from London for my annual visit to my roots.
Although there was an immediate attraction, I never thought there was the possibility of any actual romance between us—his life in Iran felt a world away from my London existence and our meetings within the family home precluded any possibility of a physical relationship.
I learned to be subtle, and poetic—once, before I left Iran, I took a rose he had presented me with, the particularly fragrant damask rose from which rosewater is extracted and which in Iran is called the Mohammadi flower, and I dropped the bloom that bore my name into his bag so that he would discover its petals, half-dried and twice as fragrant, when he got home after I had gone.