In addition to my weekly lesson in Arabic, last week I had the privilege of attending an afternoon workshop in calligraphy. I pretty well know the alphabet now, but it is rather laborious. I see the letter ب and I think now that is one of those underliny ones, the dot is underneath, it’s………….B!
I know if I see
I can figure out that the word is bab and means door, but when I see
I do not automatically see
in my mind.
Here is the paper I dirtied while practicing, using a qalam (pen made from bamboo) and India ink.
The teacher’s stroke so was so well controlled. I could not get the fine line like he could. He showed us how he does a coloured background, using a wide flat brush, dipped in several colours of ink. The top one is my writing on one of his backgrounds, the bottom one was done entirely by me except that the teacher loaded the brush.
We wrote words such as light, love, peace, dream, confidence, that he had us pull out of a little basket, like fortune cookies.
Learning Arabic, as I may have previously mentioned, takes me back to before I learned to read, before a sound became visualized by the letters of the alphabet I usually use. It’s not easy. There seem to be layers and layers to scratch back and replace (not replace exactly, but add). Penitence is somehow related to this, trying to erase layers of what we call human nature—desires to dominate, cheat, put down the other person, be greedy and lazy, well, I will stop the list—and rewrite myself as loving, forgiving, pure (not sure I should even write this one, it is so far from reality). I rather doubt I will be able to speak and write Arabic like one who was born and schooled in that language, just as I doubt I can become perfect, but I will keep trying, putting one foot in front of the other.