Mosque Lamp; Ottoman, AD 1549; from Iznik, modern Turkey | Made for the Ottoman restoration of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem | British Museum | Click image for larger view.

The moment I saw this mosque lamp, I felt that my mother would have liked it because she – like many other people, and I among them – was very fond of ceramics and perfumed candles – my usual and last birthday gift. I could see it in the colors and patterns that they were concisely of that sort, as parents and siblings can possibly see in a child’s eyes those little things – and lovers too in each other or in any experience of beauty – guessing at the colors and patterns and those little things in the form of sensations received, renewed, remembered, reinterpreted and ultimately transformed into premises, attachments, possessions and other moorings of the mind, variously over time and place, and occasionally envisioned as articles of faith and works of art – the sorts of evanescence that are unquietly our own and therefore precious and meaningful. The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids was my favorite bedtime story which my mother often retold with variations to keep me entertained – and she would dotingly recall how I once corrected her that goats ‘graze’ [charna], not ‘eat’ [khaana] – and I remember it was in those days when my mother was young that I imagined God to be an old benevolent woman. The youngest of four brothers and finding myself somewhere between being a son and a grandson, I also bought my first few volumes of Freud in the standard english version with her at a book fair. One of my brothers is a psychiatrist – whose son was her favorite grandchild by far, and the happenstance, a great happiness of my life – and I proudly showed her what good taste I had in books, having read and half-understood Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents at seventeen from another brother’s bookshelf. She was indifferent in a very pleasant way and it was enough that we were basically out for a drive on a pleasantly cloudy winter afternoon, and that she let me read whatever I liked – something that later gave rise to certain opinions and criticisms of mine which she didn’t like at all. While last year’s Eid was the saddest of my life, I want to share her memory, again, perhaps with a feeling akin to adoration.

Eid Mubarak.



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