On the one hand your new born baby – head flat against outstretched palm, its body pushing back onto your lower arm like a monkey on a bed of leaves.
In your other hand, the stock of an AK-47, barrel pointing upwards – a vertical axis to complement the horizontal infant.
Do they weigh about the same – these two things, each gravitating to the crook of a different arm? I would have guessed the gun was heavier than the baby….. but you look so well balanced.
As one offsets the other, there is no sign of strain in your arms or shoulders – it seems you could stand like this forever. Meanwhile the tiniest tilt of your head, the less-than-half-a-smile playing across your lips, indicate the internal equilibrium of a Mona Lisa.
News reports of 31-year-old Abu Rumaysah, who skipped bail (awaiting trial for ‘encouraging terrorism’), and boarded a bus from Victoria coach station to join theJihadis of Islamic State (dodging MI5 turned out to be as easy as taking the Victoria Line from his North London home), have pointed to the gross discrepancy between left and right: innocent infant on one hand, shoot to kill on the other; two handfuls co-starring in the selfie he posted to celebrate arriving in Syria and the arrival of his new born son.
There is more to the disparity. Rumaysah’s given name is Siddartha. Given to him by his Hindu mother long before he converted to Islam, it is also the birth name of theBuddha. How ironic that the latterday Siddartha turned from ways of peace into a man o’war (and not even a proper war, at that).
Yet there is no getting away from the poise in the picture.
Although his actions are utterly misguided, absurdly lop-sided, and – yes, let’s have another layer of irony – he may even end up doing the same work for IS (press releases and web design, if reports are to be believed) that he could have picked up in London’s ‘creative industries’, nonetheless for a moment at least this man has found his spirit level.
Critical, hostile, scathing – we can be all of these. But which of us – those of us who know the hunger for wholeness – doesn’t also envy his fleeting equilibrium?