On the façade of Piazza San Carlo, the royal palace in Napoli (from where my father came) are statues of the various rulers of the Kingdom throughout the years. I always adored one in particular. On every visit to Napoli it was a personal tradition to silently bid hello to this strong King with kind eyes. His name was King Gioacchino Murat, brother-in-law to Napoleon Bonaparte, whose coat of arms uniquely featured several black horses.
The first place I called home was in Earls Terrace on Kensington road; a row of Georgian terraced housing built by Frenchman Louis Leon Changeur, a rumoured Napoleonic agent. Locals suspected the houses were constructed as potential barracks for Napoleon’s soldiers.
From the age of 4 (coincidently my lucky number, hence a four pointed star tattoo on my wrist) my parents moved to a flat just a stone’s throw away from Barons Court tube station. I attended school but struggled with words and numbers. Never the less I began to write one I hit my late teens to quench creative bursts. I developed a longing to travel to the places which inspired me: namely Turkey and the Middle East. Ceramics, textiles, food, language, music – anything with the remotest heat of the East awakened my senses. Even design projects at University I’d call upon what best inspired my soul to produce the strongest of my work.
The funny things is that I’d had many a chance to travel there during my twenty something years of cross cultural friendships, but it was never the right time and I’d somehow convinced myself for whatever reason that when I did eventually get there it would seal some kind of permanent bond.
I got a regular job, although I didn’t feel fulfilled. Life was life: up and down. Sometimes comic, yet a feeling of dissatisfaction and a series of events led to a really bad patch. My creativity dried up and I no longer painted, wrote or sang aloud. I started to withdraw and go inside myself silently consumed with troubled thoughts. I crumpled and became an irritable soul snapping at the ones I love the best then throbbed with guilt immediately after. I wavered from angry tears to painful indifference, unable to muster the enthusiasm for anything. As I began to spiral out of control, powerful dreams visited at night and one in particular stuck in my memory:
I have an overwhelming sense of sadness and guilt when my black stallion escapes its tether. I hang my head and weep as I follow a path, hoping to find my horse. The path leads to a beach in Ischia, an Island I have visited with my father many times. As I take in my surroundings, the dawn sun begins to warm the dewy sand beneath my feet. My horse gallops playfully ahead of me on the beach and slows to meet a man dressed like a Saracen it white robes and turban. He takes my horse gently by the reigns and leads him to me. The man is tall and silent with almond eyes as dark as night but I am not scared of him, just thankful. I embrace my horse and notice how shiny and muscular he has become. Then, I wake up.
The dreams inspire me to write and in doing so my sanity was saved as I catergorised the overwhelming tangle of thoughts I’d been keeping inside. I wrote for hours, days even. Stirring from dreamy slumber with revelations, I reached for my notepad most mornings. Something kept the ideas flowing. After some time I realise I had accidentally written a book. It was a story of a girl who makes the wrong choices. She lived in turmoil but was reborn after a personal crisis. After learning to turn the right way, she found her inner calm and started to live again. Without giving too much away, the word ‘Dervish’ features in the title.
In the meantime life continued its cycles: The seasons rotated, days turned into night then day appeared again all too soon. The need to consume myself in the book ceased so I put it to rest until I found more time to polish its’ rough edges. NazarBlue was born after this.
Then one day when I least expected, someone came into my life. His name is Murat and he hails from Istanbul, which makes him a Saracen of sorts.
When he noticed my tattoo, he pulled out a folded piece of paper from his wallet. It revealed an old scribbly sketch of a four pointed star, exactly the same as design adorning my wrist.
Murat taught me about Alevism and introduced me to the philosophies of Persian mystic Rumi. Showing me a picture of his Persian ancestors, I note they are wearing white turbans much like Rumi himself. Murat’s almond eyes were a familiar shade of night. I understood that we’d met before, albeit not physically. He was quite literally the man of my dreams.
When the time was right I finally got my chance to visit Istanbul with Murat as my guide. One afternoon as we strolled through Ortaköy, the call to prayer reminded us that we stood on the edge of the Orient.
‘What do you think about the name Rumi?’ Murat asked.
‘It’s lovely.’ I already knew why he was asking.
‘If we have a son?’ Just as I’d thought.
‘Kismet.’ I answered.
We bought a beautiful stone plaque of a whirling Dervish inscribed with a Rumi quote for our future home.
“Come, come again, whoever you are, come!” Acceptance – something every human in their diversities craves.
The Dervish was spinning with a content expression, eyes closed and blissfully dreamy. It was an expression I had begun to understand quite well.
Later on that afternoon Murat’s sister, Dilek, read my coffee cup.
‘I see a horse…’ she studied the grains of coffee again ‘…and a crown.’ Murat and I exchanged knowing looks with a smile.
One year on and we are due to marry.
Yesterday I was looking for a particular jeweled whirling Dervish pendent I’d seen on the internet some days ago. I began typing ‘Whirling Derv…’ and Google auto predicts ‘Whirling Dervish West London’. I click a link then another and discover that just streets away from my childhood Hammersmith home, is the Study Society in Colet House which is home to London’s only Whirling Dervishes who’ve been ‘turning’ since 1963. It was as if their turning reeled me in throughout childhood, calling out and drawing me closer with rays of cosmic energy. It was unknowingly, a profound influence on the paths my life would take. The Study School welcomes everyone regardless of background or belief. They host poetry sessions based on Rumi’s wisdom. Perhaps I’ll join them to feel this inner stillness just like the character in my book. Perhaps I’ve already found it through life’s twists and turns.
Rumi quoted “What we are seeking is closer than our own jugular vein”. Absolutely, it was under my nose all along but only materialised when the time was right. The signs had always been there yet it’s only now that I’ve been able to piece everything together after some reflection. A series of coincidences maybe, Kismet definitely!
The idea of fate has always been present in human psyche having played an important part in mythology and philosophy. To say events are written and predetermined not only suggests a wider spiritual and religious belief, but acknowledges that most things are out of our hands . I was particularly inspired by Greek, Roman and Norse mythology which personified fate in the shape of three maidens who weaved the story of people’s lives and appeared at the birth of each baby to decipher its destiny. Each gave their own hand in a person’s story: one for the past, present or future.
I prefer to think of the oneness of destiny and call it Kismet, a force which cannot be broken down into near-deities or demigods. It would be easy to blame the three fates when things went wrong, but with one big force behind life’s patterns we can believe there is a greater purpose and find a positive outcome from a negative situation.
Every life is full of ups and downs – of tragedy and comedy, choices, longing, ambition. The saying ‘Life is what we make it’ rings true in some respects, but what about the things beyond the grasps of our control? We are constantly plagued by decisions whose outcomes will help determine our future, yet unexpected situations arrive on our doorstep, some welcome and others absolutely uninvited. At times of turmoil, desperate attempts to resolve a troublesome situation serve purely as a tool of self-destruction. When we realise that there is simply nothing we can do to help ourselves, we’re forced to accept that certain things are out of our control.
Contentedness is born from acceptance. Acceptance comes after reflection and crisis. Sometimes crisis is necessary to find out who we are and what we’re capable of and on reflection we realise that a series of happenings has led us to the present situation. Consequences of events, whether good or bad, decipher our destiny. A sense of calm becomes us when we give up trying to fight against the powers that be.
Kismet is a comfort when things aren’t panning out as imagined; it liberates us from the ‘if onlys’ and ‘what ifs’. It’s a force which hushes the storm within and a concept which erases frowns and etches smiles. Everything will be OK, it always is in the end.
We can’t say for certain why things happen the way they do, or state with a logical mind that we believe wholeheartedly in something we cannot see but surely a series of events which fit together so intricately cannot be dismissed as coincidence alone.
Kismet makes absolute perfect sense.