‘Being of nowhere and of everywhere.’

“My father is a very wise man with his beard, mustache, his soft way of speaking. But underneath there is a naughty devil. So I know that if he connects with poetry, it’s the same. He often would find the little passages that for me show this naughty side of Rumi.

“I’m very allergic to people who make him a holy figure. It takes away the very human side of him. Of course, he speaks about sort of a spiritual view on this and the next life, about connecting to the world not just through an analytical but also a feeling mind. But, underneath, there is a living, breathing human being who can be naughty, vicious, dark. I like people more that are not holy, the wisdom feels deeper.

If I take a book of Rumi in my hands, it’s really hard for me to read it directly. Because even though I am fluent in contemporary Persian, literary Persian is something else. I always have to have an interpreter. So it comes to me through my father reading it to me which means at the same time, I’m not only enjoying Rumi; through Rumi, I’m enjoying the bond with my father.

And in a way, Rumi is about connections. He writes about the bond he has with his friend and teacher, Shams Tabrizi. Some of the aspects in their relationship, I can see their echo in my relationship with my father.

The central and most beautiful message is that his work is poetry. It means, everyone could claim him and I love that. You know the Afghans could say he’s born there; the Iranians could say he wrote in our language, he was part of the Persian empire; the Turks could say he died and was buried in Konya, he started the Sufism movement here. I also love that the people who claim him don’t truly understand his poetry, because his poetry constantly speaks of being of nowhere and of everywhere.”