139O0272C Beauty on the Shore 30x40



        Ah, yes, hello. Miss Duman? I am very pleased to meet you, Miss Duman. “Jiniri”? Oh, of course, certainly. “Jiniri”, that is a lovely name. Jiniri, I am “Sahel”.

        Jiniri, you say you are Arabian. You say your father was a scholar of Arabian mythology. He used to tell you when you were a child that he named you Jiniri because the Jinn themselves appeared to him and your mother, holding you as a baby. Yes, the Jinn, I know. There are three sapient creations of God: the Angels, the Humans, and the Jinn. But only Humans and Jinn have free will to disobey God. Shayṭān, Satan was not a “fallen angel”. Satan was a Jinn according to the Qur’an. And your father and your mother would tell you that this Jinn begged them to raise you. A charming story to tell a little girl, yes.

        My father was a watchmaker in Tehran. When I was a young child I used to think that my father was creating time, actually creating time. He let me believe that. You can see that in my heart I am a poet, not a business man.

        Jiniri, you insist to me that you are a refugee? An exile?

        Oh, how darkly beautiful you are, as precious oiled wood of color and scent, walnut skin, starless-night hair, veiled honey-golden eyes that dance for my head, yet, if I can keep my head, I can notice… the fractured galaxies in your eyes. The smokeless scorching fire.

        Oh, nothing, I am listening, go ahead, I apologize.

        Jiniri, you are telling me that you used to be a reporter for Al Arabiya television?

        Are you serious? Amazing. That is amazing!

        You insist you were forced to leave after reporting that the Arab countries had all failed miserably to offer either democracy or economic well-being?

        I am sorry. I do not mean to pry. But just how did you come to work in the United States in this special-needs day-care center?

        Really? How, how… prophetic, if that is the word. You had done a series of reports for Al Arabiya television about physical and mental disabilities in the Middle East.

        Yes, you never see people with disabilities there. Yes, that is heart-breaking. It is true. To this day, physical and mental disabilities are viewed as stigmas there. But do you see hope?

        Oh, my God, you don’t say. One in 160 children is diagnosed with autism in Saudi Arabia alone? You were the only one reporting about autism centers around the Middle East and the young lives affected by the disorder?

        Where do I work? My hands work in the store of my cousin, Mehdi, the store called Party City. In my heart I am a poet, as I have said, and… Yes, I said “Party City”. Costumes, party hosting, like that. I must tell you that sometimes I can make extra money as a clown at children’s parties. In fact, in my Sufism religious studies… What? Yes, I do make some small money writing poetry, yes. No, I am not practical, no, I am surely not. My wife was practical. That is why she left me. She left me because of me, yes, because I am not practical. No, she did not leave because of our little twin daughters here, Sufia and Suja.

        When my wife and I were told that Sufia and Suja are autistic, well, you can imagine. My poor wife, Ziba, she could not imagine that it was not a curse put upon us. I prefer to believe that Sufia and Suja are pure and they cannot look at this world so they stare together into the next world beyond. If I can think of it that way it is really quite extraordinary. And practical.

        Ziba left them with me, yes, she left them, she left us.

        Jiniri, you now say “hi” to Sufia and Suja. You now turn your head to get them to look directly at you but their gazes slide away as if you are merely a fleeting mirage to them.

        Yes, that can be unsettling. No matter how you position yourself it seems like they are not looking at you but looking at something beyond you.

        Jiniri, you now watch Sufia and Suja wander off together toward the toy piano. Sufia sits on the carpet in front of the toy piano and she begins to finger an achingly beautiful harmony, of unearthly tonality, yet alive, organic. Suja begins to sing an accompanying melody, using words that she appears to invent.

        I agree. It is amazing. Yes, this is why I prefer to believe that Sufia and Suja are pure and they just cannot acknowledge this world, and so they yearn together into the next world beyond. Together. They are like waves chasing a shore.

        I don’t want to leave but I must go to work.

        Jiniri, I must be going to work but it was very nice to meet you. I will be back here by six o’clock to pick-up Sufia and Suja. I want to say to you, welcome here. I mean, to this country. I am sure that things will go your way.

        Shades of doubt, shapes of hope, I pray that it may be my way also.

        My insides have liquefied with sorrow from the end of my marriage. I have liquefied inside like a fly full of spider’s venom. I have become a toxic flux of anger and that is what inflates my form. If not for my cousin Mehdi’s weekly Sufism study group I do not imagine what would have happened to me by now, I just don’t.

        At work I write a poem to you, Jiniri:


You become the blood of my heart.

Shades of doubt, shapes of hope,

You might be the angel of my death

Yet I embrace you.







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