A life to live when History finally clarifies itself.
A house in Leiden. A little old house with a small garden, or at least a patch of earth to plant a climbing rose to frame the entrance. Contrary to the Dutch usages, I don't like to paint the interior in white. I like dark, intense colours. Mahogany bookshelves. Brill editions of Oriental poetry, hard covers in dark green. An Orientalist painting with desert and camels for my living room. An erotic Orientalist painting with a beautiful Arab male, dangerous like a tiger, for my bedroom.
Alternatively, I might buy a manor in Frisia, and keep an Arabian mare and a falcon. A fanciful scenario, but no. Better to be a scholar in Leiden.
A house in Leiden, then. Mahogany bookshelves, an armchair by the window. Various nooks and crannies to hide with my reading. An armchair and a lamp, and a little table. Exclusive porcelain set, ivory white, translucent, fragile. With a fine golden stripe around the rim. Green tea and jasmine. Lilies and peonies. A grain of Omani frankincense with the coffee. Cardamom. Fresh vegetables from the Saturday market. Coriander and Moroccan mint for my salad. Fish. A slice of lamb. Quail.
The smell of paint, a little workshop in the backyard.
Travels. Things to do in good universities. Oxford, Heidelberg, the south of France, Italy, Spain. Respectable colleagues to dine together from time to time. Travels. Morocco, Jordan, Emirates, Saudi Arabia. The smell of sandal oil. Tunisia, and Egypt, and Syria after the war. Damascus. The shadow of quince trees. The Mediterranean.
Books, heavy illustrated volumes on art that require a special stand to be read. Going on train to Amsterdam. Museum, concert, dining out, buying books. Books. Heavy illustrated volumes on art. And perhaps instead of that Orientalist painting with desert and camels, a piece of modern Islamic art, names of God inscribed in complex geometry, depicted in deep, cosmic blue. I might paint such things myself, in the little workshop in the backyard.