A woman who adores Sana’a [Archives:2005/835/Last Page]

April 21 2005
Photo from archived article: photos/835/lastpage1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/835/lastpage1_1
Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
I used to wonder whether a person would be willing to live in harsh, difficult conditions in stages of life that are supposed to be spent relaxing from hard work. I also wondered whether there are people willing to forsake their comfortable developed countries and prestigious positions for another country with less prosperity and status. I had not thought there were such persons. I have realized however that this does happen but only with great people.

There may be a wisdom that we cannot conceive as we are living in a fast-paced world. Those wise people's intention perhaps is to renew their abilities and be creative. The point may be to regain patience or live in isolation, contemplating Allah's vast creation.

Great people may have all the trappings of success and creativity but they abandon it all that for the sake of these fundamental goals and noble ends from which many people benefit. Preferring to take this humble course, they are reborn.

They are many people like this but we are not interested to find them and tell their amazing stories. Why don't we have an interest in them? They are trying to bring a ray of hope into others' hearts. They should be held in high esteem because they lay their fame aside and set off to distant and difficult cities leaving behind their green, cultivated gardens in order to grow heart-soothing gardens in our simple modest cities.

There are many stories of enchantment between the Old City of Sana'a and her visitors. One such story is between Italian Professor Marlena Ratti and Sana'a. Yes, Sana'a.

She has been in love with Sana'a since 1960, 45 years ago. The relation became stronger when she purchased a house in this city, which is on UNESCO's world heritage list.

It was by coincidence that I came to know the active Prof. Ratti. That was before a few days when someone interested in her cultural and scientific activities asked me to write a news story about her.

I went to the Old City where I found several surprises: a three-story house the first of which is an Italian cultural center containing some 5000 books at the disposal of knowledge seekers especially Yemenis studying in Italy. Drawings cover the walls and you are astonished at their craftsmanship and creativity.

Marlena Ratti, aged 65, works industriously at her paintings, for which she has received several international prizes. She paints diverse scenes, and some of those that depict Yemen and are displayed in Italy, France and the U.S.A.

As a professional, she rose to fame in the West when she won international contests in Geneva in drawings reflecting the plight of political abductees whose fates are unknown (desaparecidos). She also won a contest organized by Amnesty International focusing on human rights.

She has an unbelievable number of certificates in drawing, and psychology, etc. Her house in the Old City of Sana'a, which is a living masterpiece of drawings, is a reflection on her character.

“I love Sana'a and Yemen,” says Marlena. “My house in this city has inspired me with much creativity. It gives me seclusion, simplicity and tranquility.”

She does drawings in her room at top of the house. “From my room, I enjoy looking at the moon, the sky and the stars.” She goes beyond our world where she feels a stronger belief in God.

“I derive creativity from the simplicity of this city,” she confessed.

Marlena offer us in colors a view of her private world, overwhelming us with happiness and a great sense of respect for her.