Divya came out of the Art Gallery and paused near the flight of steps for a while.
Not that she wanted to go back and have a look at the exhibits again.
No way, she said to herself.She started walking towards home.
It was well past noon and there was no sun in the sky. A mantle of grey with dark clouds looming in the South warned her of a shower. She loved the feel of rain and recalled the days she would come home drenched with the small umbrella tucked inside her bag. But those were her school and college days. and Amma was there to prepare spicy pepper rasam along with a mild dose of scolding too.
Her heart was darker than the sky above. I should not have ventured out to see this Exhibition, she thought. It was foolish on her part to rush and see these paintings after reading a review about the paintings, lauding the Realism, Surrealism, Metaphysical aspects Of Art etc. etc. …all the usual jargon relating to Modern Art…even as she knew it was not her cup of tea.
She was an Artist. A Fine Arts student. She remembered poring through books on all these topics and writing essays within the four walls of her class room. A fool. A pretender. A hypocrite. I have been all these in my college days she thought. Just to score more marks. When the heart really enjoyed John Constable and Rembrandt.
Ultimately all of us are hypocrites..She indulged in such thoughts all the way from Mylapore to Nungambakkam.She pitied those artists who presented horrendous art forms…abhorted deliveries..she said to herself. Society and media praised such artists too. All you needed was a social standing and you could churn out anything and give it a title and call it Art. The pastime of the Rich and Famous. And there were CHAMCHAS to promote these !!
Oh ! God ! Why am I thinking like this ? Am I jealous ? Is it an inferiority complex ? Inability to continue to paint and hold exhibitions ?
Heck ! No !
She laughed aloud and opened the door. How quickly I have reached home !
She splashed water on the face and the usual cheerfulness crept back.
She pulled out the big suitcase lying under the cot. Her heart fluttered as she opened it. She took out all her paintings one by one.The tribal woman soaked in rain, trembling slightly with the chill.
The falling cascade of water and the winding river. The trees along the riverside replete with colorful blossoms. The glimmering Temple Tower under the moonlit sky…every single painting had been her creation.
What if I were to hold an exhibition…she thought. Immediately she laughed. Who will make an effort to see these ? In fact, will any Art Gallery agree to exhibit these ? She remembered a review she had read a few days back– an Art Critic calling a set of such exhibits, Calender Art.
A true painting is a silent poem. But who appreciates silent poems ?
The telephone rang. Divya rushed to pick it up. It was Jayanth. Her husband, calling her from office.
” Divya, the G M is here on a sudden visit. He’ll be coming home for dinner. I ‘ll try and be back early.”
Mr. Sinha. He loved South Indian cooking.
Oops ! There was no coconut oil to fry pappads.
She remembered the maid saying that a new provision Shop had been opened in a building four blocks away.
By the time she reached the shop, set in a Flat, little drops of rain had started falling.
The old man in the counter greeted her with a smile. A little boy was seated near the woman who was sifting wheat. The front room of the flat had been converted into a shop.
The walls were adorned with photographs of leaders, past and present.
Hey ! What’s this ?
There was a lovely painting in oil.
A mountain. The setting sun was spilling the glow through the leaves of the trees. The red orange shimmer falling like waves on the leaves of the trees, now flowing down to the grass land.. The golden touch…magical…
she felt a thrill running through her..
The old man brought her back to this world,” Take this Ma’am. twenty Rupees in all.”
Her heart was humming the song .
She reluctantly took her eyes off the painting.
” Sir, where did you buy this ?”
” Oh ! That one ? my youngest son painted it.”
” Is this the only one ? Are there any more ? I mean, can I see?”
He cut her short. “Where’s the time for all that ? He leaves at six in the morning and is back only by ten in the night.”
” Oh ! Where does he work ? In a studio ?”
” No ! We have another shop in the next town. If he sits in the counter he’ll be able to get up only by nine.” He was rushing her. He had other customers to attend to.
” He had invitations from abroad. I said a firm ‘No’. What a wasteful way of spending time ! ”
As she walked home she recalled those crazy works of art in the Gallery. And the adulation !And the crowd.
Heavy drops of rain had started falling. This unique, excellent ,talented and divine artist must be sitting in front of a mundane counter counting money and writing out bills for urad dal and tamarind.
Her heart ached.
A re post of a short story which i had posted in Sulekha some seven or eight years ago.
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