Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Noor: (Arabic, urdu) meaning illumination, light, bright

               During my college years and my stay in the hostel, we girlfriends would devour novels. Only some could afford a library membership and whenever a friend rented a book at the library, we would all be at her room door letting her know that we were in line to read it after she was done. Since books could be rented out only for a few days, each of us had about a day only to read it in. That meant I was reading the book every moment I got; at the mess table during meals, in the classroom hiding it within my boring zoology textbooks, in between classes, back at the hostel after classes; hurriedly trying to finish it before I had to pass it on to the next girl waiting her turn. Such fun memories!

              I loved reading British historical romance novels, especially novels in which the lady was described as a wallflower. A heroine who was very ordinary looking, a woman beautiful on the inside but one whose beauty no one saw as they were stuck on outward appearances, a woman that no one really noticed or paid attention to, a woman who shrunk into the walls of the ballroom, a woman who was always overshadowed by the comely beauty of other ladies around her, a lady who then chose to blend in and hide in the shadows and stay out of the spotlight. But by no means mistake her for a weak woman; this lady was strong, hard-working, kind and generous, intelligent and loving, and her beauty shone from within her, a beauty so rare and fine that it would take a very special kind of person to be worth her, to measure up to her. 

            And then…Ah!…..And then along comes the handsome stunning hero who notices her. A person who sees  the real her. Their interactions are full of spirit and fire. Slowly falling in love with this hero, basking in his love for her she blooms into this confident and beautiful woman whose inner glow shines so bright that it radiates outwards. Suddenly everyone is noticing her and she is receiving admiring glances from men and envious ones from other women. Love transforms her personality from that of a wallflower into the most stunningly attractive woman in the room. 

Reminds me of a poem woven by the great Sufi Poet Hazrat Khwaja Ghulam Fareed in Saraiki language (referencing Laila-Majnu lovers)
"Kis wal akheya ve Majnu nu
O teri Laila disdi kaali ve
Majnu ne jawaab ditta
Je teri ankh na wekhan waali ve
Je tu dekheyn meri ankhaa naal
Teri surat na jaaye sambhaali ve
Ved bhi chitta, te Quran bhi chitti
Vich siyahi rakh ditti kaali ve,
Ghulam Farid, jithhe akhiyaan lagiyaan
Othhe kya gori kya kaali ve..."

Once someone remarked to Majnu, your Laila is dark complexioned! 
To which Majnu replied, only because her beauty your eye hasn’t fathomed.
If you could see Laila with my eyes,
Overawed, you wouldn’t be able to handle it.
Pages of the Ved (Hindu scriptures) are white, so are the Quran’s
But the black ink upon them brings it value and completes them
Ghulam Farid, in matters of the heart,
The distinction of black and white falls apart.

This project piece is such a transformation of love. 

            Do you have a furniture piece in your home that is perfectly functional, solidly utilitarian but a piece that no one really pays attention to or notices? Those nondescript furniture pieces that are sturdy and serve a purpose but fade into the background.

            This piece was a plain, very well-constructed wooden trunk with clean simple lines that sat in a corner and was used as a storage piece. It didn’t add any personality or character to the look of the room other than functionality.

            The idea was to take this wallflower and bring it center stage. To transform it into the most stunning piece in the room, into a piece that first catches your eye as you enter the room. 

And this beauty blooms.....

                 This is one wallflower you can't ignore. The beautiful details of the hand painted Moroccan motifs are enhanced by the choice of colors. Beautiful lines of this piece that might have receded to the background are brought forth by a palette that takes this into the dramatic old world. The design and pattern and colors complement and contrast against the overarching schema. Simultaneously, the heavy metal handles and latch details add a moody weight to the piece. 

        Saying it dramatically I would say---“Shining a light on a life in the shadows”.

               Appropriately named Noor, this piece conveys my sentiments….an immense effort of love, a knowledge, a vision, and a belief that I could see and bring out its hidden beauty…an illumination of the piece. The pattern and motifs are representative of a lamp and the flame of a light……illuminating the piece and bringing it from the shadows into the light.  A hidden gem, polished and nurtured with love, that now shines brilliantly. This was a labor of love for me...right from the envisioning to the planning stage, to painstakingly hand painting every single brushstroke of color, to correcting mistakes along the way, to the innumerable hours spent on this project, to giving it a finishing look, and finally seeing it shine in its home. A project I wholeheartedly loved working on and one on which I surprised myself too. This project challenged me to stretch the limits of what I had done so far and to reach for higher heights. Not an easy project but immensely gratifying nevertheless. 

Ready to fall in love again?

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