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© by VENUS
you're about to see are moments of his life
he shared with me. I was 23 years old Artist.

He was poor.. deaf.. and mute.
He could not hear nor speak.
But he liked my Art!

He used hands to communicate..
the 'Sign Language'
And this is what he told me:
Tafa's Story
"I can't eat.."
"I can't sleep.."
"I see bad things.."
"I have bad dreams.."
"It's cold where I live.."
"I wish I could read.."
"I hope they bury me
when I die.."
"I'll be happy
* * * * *
t was 1994.
As surprised as he was seeing himself painted, so was the rest of society
with my choice of subject matter!
It was my very first art show after graduation in Europe / Decani, Kosova.
I did not show the art to the public until Tafa himself approved it.

At first, he refused to enter my art gallery:
'I don't look nice' he murmured blushing.
I understood him by the gestures he made to communicate;
he could not hear nor speak.

'Neither do I' - told him smiling, looking like hell from painting and lack of

After few seconds of slightly smiling and thinking he entered the gallery and
faced his portraits.

For a moment his body stretched tall, there was glitter in his eyes, he felt
pride and I could see honor and dignity in him! He then put his index finger
and thumb together and blew a kiss, and another and another one, while
looking at his portraits, signaling me how beautiful his portraits were; a very
touching display of emotion.

He almost hugged himself in each of the artwork. He nodded toward each
moment, sighed at times and he laughed out really loud when he saw
himself at the end smiling....
'Hehe, that's me up there' - he kept laughing,
looking toward the sky... My eyes filled with tears instead!

After a great laugh, he then hit me really hard on my shoulder followed by a
deep *sigh*, he frowned and with hand gestures he critiqued me:
' Still NO teeth' he added 'behhh' and he hit me again on my shoulder:
' You could have painted me some teeth' - he made his hand gestures
toward his mouth and my pastels I used to create his story.

It was only then I realized what my dad, the ingenious Kosovar artist Nimon
Lokaj tried to teach me all my life since art was my passion at very early age:
'Do not copy Venus - Create,' my dad used to say to me and although
I thought I was creating because I did paint his life moments without seeing
them, I guess I missed sensing that one wish of his, beneath the surface...
I did not create teeth he did not have and I could have done so, although it
would drastically change his facial emotion.

Tafa's story taught me many things at early age, made me aware of magic
and mystery of character, the attitude, pride, friendliness, dignity, rational
judgment and strength within, regardless of social status!

And his emotional reaction at the end taught me something quite mysterious
about human nature, and that is *Desire* to be remembered how you wished
you were!
He also taught me what keeps one warm in rainy days - Education!

* * * * *

Tafa made it from the walls of Decani, then through Europe:
( Kosova, Albania, Turkey, Austria, England) - Over the Ocean -
to the walls of New York, then through USA:
(New York City, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois,
Kentucky, Kansas...)

I painted him in 1994 in Decani, Kosova, Europe.
I shared his story and portraits with the World on YouTube in 2012.

I heard few days ago ' He's dead now' - Is he really?
((by VENUS))
Venera Lokaj-Smit
USA, 2012
* * * * *