The village of my heart went up in flames

All that is left around me is an empty field covered with dust. The village of my heart went up in flames. It burned all my emotions and all my longings. One by one, they were destroyed in the fire. The flames never burned me, yet turned all that I was into ashes.

That was then.

This is now.

I walk on the grey soil, soft like a Kashmiri carpet. I see the desolation and I see the joy. All is gone and I am left utterly empty, empty of all that weighted me down. My steps are so light, I leave no marks nor lift any dust. There is silence, a vast silent emptiness.

A smile dries my tears and then I see a touch of green amidts the grey, bright like an emerald emitting its own light. I can smell the aroma of rebirth, that mix of grass and soil and water. Life is coming back to the burned village of my heart. Gently I caress the grass blades that do not cut. Gently I get up and continue walking out of the burnt down village and onto the open road.

The sky above me, that divine cup turned upside down with no end and no angle, is now my only guide.

Kenza.

The quiet festivity

The traditional New Year celebration is not really my cup of tea, a change of number barely gets my attention. New Year’s eve is just like any other night, a bit of music, a bit of poetry and quiet dreams of infinity.

For me, it is Navroz that brings on the festivity; when Spring gently knocks at the door baring the gift of light, illuminating the house and encouraging me to clean it meticulously.

I prefer the swallows’ early morning songs, to the loud and hollow conversation of revellers; and the quiet opening of the hyacinth, to the commotion of fireworks.

Instead of the display of caviar, champagne and glitter; I would rather feel the blessings of the haft seen, the seven items of the altar: the lentil sprouts, the garlic, the apple, the vinegar, the fish, the mirror and of course, the book of Hafez’s poetry.

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On that day, you are cordially invited to our house to sit under the cherry blossoms and listen to the gentle conversation of the violet, the pansy and the tulip. Believe me, they always have a lot of interesting things to say if you listen carefully.

Please come and come early, so that together we may dance amidst particles of light and smile at Hafez’s witty and eternal poetry.

Photos: Courtyard in Isfahan, Iran; and swallows in El Charco Botanical Garden, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

On my way to the boulangerie

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Mama! What did you see on the way to the boulangerie?

When I went out of the house early this morning to go to the Boulangerie, the mist was so thick I could not even see the end of my toes! But let me tell you what I could see as I walked really fast to avoid my ear tips from freezing.

As I walked by the vegetable and fruit market, I saw birds gathering around our friend. You know, the giant man with the large belly who always wears those bright green sweaters. He was giving them bread. The birds looked so hungry. Some were eating right out of his generous hand!

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As I rounded the corner towards the Boulangerie, I saw a lady with a large hat full of multi-coloured feathers being pulled by a rather funny looking dog. He was in a good mood and as I approached them, he wrapped himself around my legs. “I am so sorry!” the lady with the multi-coloured feathered hat told me with a smile. “It is my son’s dog. His name is “gato” as in “gâteau” cake in French.” “It is fine,” I said as I tried to unentangle myself from the dog’s happy embrace. “It is a bit confusing for Mexicans,” she added as the dog pulled her forcefully away. Well, confusing for the dog as well, I thought.

At the boulangerie, I saw our friend Claude, the Chef Boulanger. He said “Bonjour! Comment va le petit?” Claude is always so nice!

But the cashier was grumpy. I wanted to make her smile by telling her about the big man feeding the birds and the lady with the multi-coloured feathered hat and the dog named “gato,” but I hesitated. So I just gave her an immense smile. That made me look rather silly, but I did not mind. Yet, grumpy she remained. Maybe I should have told her about the man and the feathered lady and the confused happy dog. I should have known better.

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As I headed back home with my bag filled with fresh from the oven petits pains au chocolat, croissants and a baguette, I saw the morning mist gently rise above the tall pink church tower. It looked magnificent and I must say that San Miguel, perched high with his wings and staff, looked absolutely dashing! A pigeon was eying him though, and I am afraid he was about to fly and land on his head, taking away some of his aplomb.

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More pigeons greeted me as I made my way back home. Two of them were busy gossiping while warming up in the early morning sun on their balcony. You know the one near the yellow and red church, right above the rendez-vous place of young secret lovers. I am certain they were exchanging stories about the latest ones to have promised to love each other for eternity, as it always happens right there, under their balcony away from the pry of onlookers, and parents.

And finally, as I turned into our little street, I looked ahead hoping to see you at the window and I did! I was so happy! That was the best thing I saw on my way to the boulangerie.

A heavy burden

“Accomplish but do not boast,
accomplish without show,
accomplish without arrogance.”
Lao Tzu

A long time ago in China, two monks were traveling in a carriage returning to their monastery. One was an old master with a gentle smile and sparkling eyes. While his hands looked like old pine trees twisted by age, his back was straight and his mind most sharp. The other one was a young monk and his student. While he was in the prime of his youth, unlike his master, he retained a rather stern demeanour and small lines had already started to form between his thin eyebrows.

After many days of travel, they finally reached the village at the foot of the mountain where their monastery was located. It was raining steadily. A large puddle greeted the travelers as they stepped out of the carriage.

A lady dressed in long robes and wearing silk slippers looked upon the puddle. “How can I come down? This is terrible! I will get my clothes and my slippers all dirty!”

Upon seeing her distress, the old monk gently lifted her in his arms and carried her across the puddle to a dry place under a large tree. His legs were all muddied and his sandals and robe soaked. He bowed and smiled at her, both gestures left unrequited.

Still smiling, the old master called upon his student so they may start their long walk up the mountain to the monastery.

They walked in silence. The old monk humming some mantras, listening to the birds and caressing the high grass with his palms.

After some time, the young monk turned to his master, and with deeper than usual lines between his thin eyebrows, told him:

“This is just terrible! You carried the lady across the puddle, got all muddied and wet, and she never thanked you! How ungrateful of her!”

The old monk replied with a gentle smile: “I stopped carrying the lady hours ago, while it seems you are still carrying her!”

Kenza.

A day in Paris

“Mama, what do we do today?”

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We walk. We look at the clouds. Watch leaves falling like books in the air. Old manuscripts. The smell of ink. Dust and sun in our eyes.

The sky immense and blue. “Let’s take a piece and put it in our pockets,” I say, “you know for later when we are far away.”

We watch milk twirl in your first ever decaf cappuccino! On the side, a round crêpe like a full moon, folded to match the clouds.

The metro filled with ants, all heads down. We dance a few steps on the platform as we wait for the train. An old man looks at us, and smiles. Just like the one who plays the violin at the entrance. We listen to his notes.

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Run through empty arches. A man stands by a window, reading a book. Perhaps from the pages we saw flying earlier in the park.

Walk behind pigeons imitating them, back side waddling. Play. Stop. And play some more. And laugh.

Dance along small streets. You are always dancing.

And talk. Talk about a book and Japan and chocolate at the window, starting every sentence with “can I tell you something?” Buildings measured against Tsunami waves, a graffiti on the wall, the lady with a dog at the light, the day you rode your bike for the first time. Intarissable…

Imagination free, the instant takes flight always further and yet always present.

And I answer when I can. My thoughts are too real, too material so I discard them. I decide to join in your blabber and then I see the light and the dust. My eyes now guide me instead of my heavy thoughts. I jump from colours to sensations, just like you!

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Art in gallery windows and the gentle smile of ladies in Chanel. More art. Beautiful art. Time stops as we stroll gently through the empty museum. Now you are glad we woke up so early.

Outside the boulangerie, we spot a small bulldog wondering what he is doing in a dog’s body. Another one closer to the fountain, watches pigeons fly wishing he could join them. Or may be not. It may just be our interpretation.

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A giant advertisement for an anti-winkle cream that promises youth as though the heart could heal so easily, returns me to absurdity. And then I let it go.

And the man looking at the void. A homeless from a far way land who then looks up at you and gives you a generous smile, “I have nothing,” he seems to tell you, “only a smile.” And you answer in kind, and you both smile and hope seems to rise even if ephemeral. “What a nice man,” you tell me as you skip down the boulevard.

And then you stop and come back to me. “I wish the entire world was soft and clean.” And I wish that as well. So I kiss you as we stand in the middle of the pavement. Smiles from others. A soft and clean world, even if for an instant. And I wish for it to expands.

IMG_E1725Éclair au chocolat, the best ever! Everything for you is the best ever at that very moment. I admit though, the ones from La Maison du Chocolat are the best ever!

“This is the best day of my life,” you say as the day ends. Of course it is! You always say that. We should all be saying that.