Is Nothing Sacred?

Rafiee Ghani oil on canvas 214 cm x 214 cm

Rafiee Ghani – Nothing is sacred
oil on canvas 214 cm x 214 cm

Today evening, I went to an art exhibition in KL, a solo by a Malay artist Rafiee Ghani. Raifee is an abstract painter, the solo exhibit is based on the theme Homeland that relates to the phenomenon of people/communities being uprooted owing to wars or calamities, who have to take refuge and find identity in new places. Vibrant colours on large canvases seem to be his style.

I spent sometime at the gallery, enjoying the big pieces of work, among other strangers , probably art lovers. The feeling is really good, KL is growing on me slowly, and I am finding peace here.  I was reading the titles of the works like , ‘ Yearning for home, No network, Peace below the red mountain’ , and ‘ Nothing is sacred’. It caught my eye, and memories rushed to a few years back when I had read Mr. Salman Rushdie’s essay/lecture –  Is Nothing sacred? Nostalgia struck . It’s so beautifully written, I came home and searched for it , read it all over again.

“I grew up kissing books and bread.

In our house, whenever anyone dropped a book or let fall a chapati or a “slice,” which was our word for a triangle of buttered leavened bread, the fallen object was required not only to be picked up but also kissed, by way of apology for the act of clumsy disrespect. I was as careless and butter- fingered as any child and, accordingly, during my childhood years, I kissed a large number of “slices” and also my fair share of books.

 Devout households in India often contained, and still contain, persons in the habit of kissing holy books. But we kissed everything. We kissed dictionaries and atlases. We kissed Enid Blyton novels and Superman comics. If I’d ever dropped the telephone directory I’d probably have kissed that, too.

All this happened before I had ever kissed a girl. In fact it would almost be true, true enough for a fiction writer, anyhow, to say that once I started kissing girls, my activities with regard to bread and books lost some of their special excitement. But one never forgets one’s first loves.

 Bread and books: food for the body and food for the soul – what could be more worthy of our respect, and even love?”……….

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Filed under Latest Story, Me & My Art, The making of Me

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