Everything happens for a reason , and there is reason in everything that happens
“Aunty Nazi! Aunty Nazi!”, I hear the familiar call from Jameela and she runs to me pulling her brother behind. I bend down to kiss them both on their cheeks. Come see my drawing she says and we move towards the little kids table decked out with crayons, pastels and paper. Wow, I think. Hasina is such a good mummy.
“Ladies and gentleman…” the curator announces and I look up to find a short fattish man on a small poduim. People begin to gather around the podium. “thank you all for coming tonight. As you all may know tonight is special because we are showcasing the work of a new talented artist”. He continues into some history about Hasina and talks about her influences. I catch her eye and she winks at me. I am idly aware of my sore feet and I discreetly take my shoes of and lean against the wall.
Ahhh, that feels great. Realising that Jameela called me to the table, I sit down on the kiddies chair , slowly and carefully grabbing the chair behind me, my tummy pointing straight up at the ceiling. I laugh to myself at the thought of what I must look like, and I am thankful that everyone is listening to the speech, so no one notices. I ask Jameela about her picture quietly, she is only too happy to oblige. I listen as she talks about her drawing. She really has a way with words. As I listen to her I wonder what my child will be like.
Suddenly everyone begins to rush towards an open door. I am enjoying my moment so I stand back and let them pass. They must have opened the kitchen I think. “your tummy is so big, Aunty Nazi. Mummy says the baby is coming soon”, she says. “Yes,” I respond, remembering what an impression this little girl made on me the first time I met her. I enjoy being seated and I watch the scene of the gallery from my low point on the kiddis chair.
I look around an dthe large bold metal letters catch my eye. What an apt name , I think. This really has been a transformation.But is has been my transformation as well. I think about how Allah has put us in each others lives and then see the wisdom of everything. I think of what may be in store for me in the future and I picture my child playing in the park and hasina is there too. I see myself driving them to school and karate, doing homework and picnicking with Hussain. I am thankful, I think. I am thankful for everything I have and even for what I don’t know I have.
The stream of people have died down and I decide to go through the door and get something to eat, knowing full well that it was just a few hours ago that I had a wedding meal. Agh, I think. I am eating for two now. Walking through the door the room is empty. It is not the kitchen. There is an additional piece of work hanging on the wall. Above it is written in metal letters like the ones outside, but smaller, “TRANSFORMATION : def – the process by which someone or something is changed or altered forever sometimes caused by an event or action. Also see modify.”
I stare at it for a while and think about what Hasina told me earlier, “Every painting has me in it”. What does this one mean. Why is it here.
I look at it and the answer stares me in the face. It’s beautiful and the story speaks to me more than the colours or texture or composition. There is a large tree with strong branches and roots. The tree is bare, Below it is a grave stone. There are flowers on the grave and it is well kept. Further away, there is a woman. She is facing away but her profile can be seen. She waters a young seedling. It is small but full of leaves. The tears begin to flow as I piece together the story. It is Hasina’s basis for transformation and that is why it is here and not with the others. The grave is that of her mothers who had a stong influence on her and who continues to stand tall despite the loss of its leaves, the loss of its life. The other woman is Hasina, beginning her like a new apart from her mother. She is bringing new life and will soon transform with her children. I guess that is why the curator made that whole speech I think. To appreciate the picture you have to know the artist.
“I wanted to be here when you saw it” Hasina said coming towards me. “Its so sad”i say making no move to wipe my tears away, “… yet so happy” I continue. She doesn’t say anything. She gives me that look, she wants more detail. I begin to tell her my interpretation and then, she stops me.
“You think that is me?” she asks for clarification. I nod. She shakes her head. “This” she says pointing to the woman in the distance, “This my dear Farnaz, is you”. I look at her bewildered as she begins to explain. “Yes this is how I see my transformation. The tree is strong and big – YES, but the life is gone. You managed to bring the life back. Don’t you see?”. I nod without voice. the lump in my throat is about the size of china now and If I try to speak I might lose my composure. My emotion is tangible within me and I feel my eyes sting with fresh tears. I have never been told anything like that before.
“You remind me so much of her Farnaz, I never told you but you do”. Having heard story upon story about her mother, there is no doubt that is a compliment. “You finished what my mother started by believing in me , in my work” she turns to me. Thank you so much” she says her voice calm and sirene. SHe has obviously reheared this speech and is perfectly eloquent. Me on the other hand – not so much. I am a mess of emotion.
She continues, “if it wasn’t for your encouragement, I don’t think I would ever have come so far”. I smile at her. An awkward laugh escapes me, “You have been my transformation”, I say thankful that my words have finally emerged. I think about everything I want to say to her and wonder if I will be able to really convey what I am feeling. “you filled the void that was missing for so long, and you taught me that strength lies in Allah”. “I was wrong about so many things” I say in between sobs and she takes my hands in hers for support as I speak. I laugh and she laughs and everything I want to say is said. In that gesture – in that moment.
We turn to look at the painting again, together. We stand there for a long time absorbing the silence between us. there will be many more conversations, many more memories and many more gestures in the future.
Right now there were no other words needed – Not between friends like us.