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My dearest Danyal

As elders, our natural instinct is to want to protect our kids; we aim to take care of them, we imagine that without anchoring them they might waver in life. As time winds down, the realisation dawns that when your children have grown up, the first thing you do is stop telling them what to do – not because they would oppose you – but simply because by stepping aside on tiptoe, you can observe them etch a forte for themselves where they would be a role model for the rest of the world to idolise upon.

The day I watched you spread your wings my dear Danny, I grasped that it was my time to tiptoe and observe, from afar, how humanity was taking to you quite like iron takes to a magnet. I found myself finding such rapture in your eminence, and it was not something that I could express via any medium: art or words. It was a feeling that an elder brother felt for his younger brother, and it was a feeling that I would want gone with me when I cease to breathe, embedded and buried deep within my heart.

However, when the world is shrouded in mist, and the atmosphere is so bloody that only the stupid are fairly untouched, whilst the sensitive wither like a bug-befouled leaf, my chest rather swells with honour when I see light at the end of the tunnel because of you my Kidd, or do I even entitle you that, because you are now an admirable young man who has acquired such a secure grasp on how to shape civilisation just by being yourself, that calling you a Kidd would be most violating that very essence, although, the fact does remain that regardless of how older you grow, you will still remain, in my heart and soul, my little Kidd . . . my little Danny. And as severe as this may sound, this is also precisely why I am rest assured that even if I were to die, my greatest treasure, you, would be the beacon who would manoeuvre the mislead to the zenith of peace and harmony that they most rightfully need to find themselves in, for god knows that the world needs a healer, and most urgently.

Thus my Dan, a man with such a gifted ability and influence to make a dent, remember that when I close my eyes never to wake up again, live so that your very presence would have made all the difference to mankind. Commit to memory that your alluring lips must speak words of kindness. Your lovely eyes ought to pursue the good in people. For an athletic structure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it at least once in a day. For carriage, walk with the knowledge that you will never walk alone. Remember that whether we elders are there with you or not, we leave you a tradition with a future that you will try your best to the tender loving care of human beings, and you will strive that it will never become obsolete. That you will keep in mind that it is not things, but people even more than anything, that have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Be mindful that these very people will displease you to such irksome levels, whereby you may desire to toss them before the guillotine, yet, never toss anybody out, for everyone who traverses your course does so in order to teach you something of value. Most important of all, bear in mind that if you ever need a helping hand, you must find one at the end of your arm, and the other one, you must use for helping others, always.  

While I wish you the best of everything in life and nothing more my Danny, do not think me callous when I say that I would also like that at different walks of life for you to experience defeat, suffering, struggle, loss – it is these occurrences and their responses, laterally with delight and humour that are rather responsible to provide you a way to find your way out of the depths of delirium. It is these encounters that will help inculcate in you an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that would fill you with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen, the trials and tribulations of life make them what they are.

I am infinitely thankful that you exist, my Dan. Now go along and mend the world. It is indeed your forecourt.

In deed and thought
I remain
Your very own
– Farahdeen  

PS: I know, I know, I vowed I would step away and watch quietly, and even then I ended up giving you the longest lecture in the world. For that you officially have the freedom hereon to hold a gun to my temple and pull the trigger (as swiftly and painlessly as possible), as I mouth the last words – But, my Kidd, old habits die-hard, so do I really deserve this? 

Photographs by Izzah Shaheen Malik


Canaletto - London. The Thames from Old Somerset House Terrace towards the City. 1750-51

Giovanni Antonio Canal (18 October 1697 – 19 April 1768) better known as Canaletto was an Italian painter of city views or vedute, of Venice. (A veduta, Italian for “view”; plural vedute, is a highly detailed, usually large-scale painting, or, more often print, of a cityscape or some other vista. The painters of vedute are referred to as vedutisti. Canaletto also painted imaginary views (referred to as capricci), although the demarcation in his works between the real and the imaginary is never quite clear. (In painting, a capriccioplural: capricci; in older English works often anglicised as “caprice” means an architectural fantasy, placing together buildings, archaeological ruins and other architectural elements in fictional and often fantastical combinations, and may include staffage (figures). It falls under the more general term of landscape painting. The term is also used for other artworks with an element of fantasy.

He was an important printmaker who used the etching technique. In the period from 1746 to 1756 he worked in England where he created many sights of London. He was highly successful in England, thanks to the British merchant and connoisseur Joseph Smith, whose large collection of Canaletto’s works was sold to King George III in 1762.

London: The Thames from Somerset House Terrace towards the City (1750-51) Oil on canvas

Canaletto arrived in London in 1746 and remained there for most of the next nine years. This painting is a pendant to a view in the opposite direction, towards Westminster. This pair was the last by Canaletto, and the only English views to be acquired by Canaletto's great friend and patron, Joseph Smith, who was British Consul in Venice. They are on a Venetian type of canvas with a russet ground rather than the light grey that the artist used for most of his English paintings. This suggests that Canaletto painted them when he returned to Venice briefly in 1750-1. The view is not based on the drawing, but on a slightly different view now in the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery. Canaletto adjusted the composition to suit the much grander scale of the painting.

The view is taken from the Terrace of Old Somerset House. Its New Gallery facing the river had been built in 1661-61 for Henrietta Maria, the Queen Mother and was perhaps designed by Inigo Jones. The building was subsequently the home of the Royal Academy, and part of it is now occupied by the Courtauld Institute of Art. The skyline is dominated by St Paul’s Cathedral, completed in 1709. Canaletto altered the dome so that it is viewed from slightly below, magnifying its powerful presence. Beyond it stretches a horizon dominated by the steeples of the City churches, largely built by Christopher Wren following the Great Fire of 1666. At the right is visible the Monument to the Fire, erected in 1671-77, Old London Bridge with its houses which were demolished in 1757, and part of the south bank.

The pair of views relates not only to Canaletto’s Venetian scenes, but also to the long tradition of topographical views of London dating back to the 1600s. Earlier engraved prospects of London were usually printed on several sheets to include the whole riverside from Westminster to the Tower. During the last century artists had chosen to depict the city stretched out in a line from a bird’s eye view over the south bank. Canaletto adopted a high viewpoint for his earlier views of the river but brought the viewpoint almost to ground level here. The great curve of the river dominates the composition, which also manages to include all the principal features to be seen from the terrace of Somerset House. When the two views are placed side by side they create a long panoramic view of the curve of the river, the equivalent on the Thames of Canaletto's wide-angled views of the Bacino in Venice.


François Flameng – Bathing of Court Ladies in the 18th Century 1888

François Flameng (1856–1923) was a very successful French painter during the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th. He was the son of a celebrated engraver and received a first-rate education in his craft. Flameng initially received renown for his history painting and portraiture, and became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts. He decorated such important civic buildings as the Sorbonne, and the Opera Comique, and also produced advertising work. Flameng was granted France’s highest civilian honour, the Ordre National De La Légion D’Honneur, and designed France’s first bank notes. He was also made an honorary Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the 1908 Birthday Honours.

Flameng married Marguerite Henriette Augusta Turquet on 30 November 1881.

This painting hangs in the Hermitage.