Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aiming the Impossible: An Artist's Memoir (Contd.)


IV
Painting: "Contemplation"By Kramskoy
Suggested by: Sarath Krishnan
I always disliked spiritual talk. Reading self-help books and philosophizing life were worst in my hate list. I hated writers like Paulo Coelho and all his sort of spiritual journeys. I had never dared to face the spirit, in fact. I knew my friend John Varghese had embarked upon a journey that would inevitably invite me to one of those maddening fancies that appear in all those books that many read, and say changed their lives. For me life had been unchangeable.

Then he said something that irritated me to hell and I was right about him too. There he was, telling me a story.

“Once upon a time,” he started; “In a small country, there lived a young girl. One day she read a book and liked it. She liked it so much that she decided to meet the author who lived in another city in the same nation. She met the writer and asked him if she can help him sell his books in other languages, as well.  

“She moved in to the city where the author lived, with her boy friend, leaving behind her studies in chemical engineering.

“She approached many publishers with the book. But not a single publisher was ready to go through the book, not a single stone had been turned.

“One day the author came to meet the girl. She was making a living by doing the work of a waitress and distributing pamphlets. At a cafĂ© nearby, they both sat down and talked. The author was not at all hopeful about the success of his book, and he felt bad seeing how the girl was suffering for something impossible. He urged her to go back to her city and continue her studies, and not spoil her career for a dream that seemed almost impossible.” He stopped abruptly and looked at me in my eyes. I saw his eyes surveying mine. I saw his lips too. I knew they haven’t finished yet.

“But she knew she was taking the path her heart wanted to, just like you.” He picked it up again, with a voice that felt very dramatic then.

“After six months, the author came to see her. This time they met in the apartment she recently bought. Now she owned a car too. The book she was trying to sell the publishers became a huge success and was phenomenon in the publishing industry.

“That book was The Alchemist, author, Paulo Coelho and the girl, his literary agent Monica.”

He might have read it somewhere. He was not a writer after all. His creativity had no such charm to cook such a story all of a sudden from nowhere.

I said good bye abruptly and walked away, as if I can pay back the internal humiliation caused by my father that way. I was taking it out to Varghese. I had this thought then that he would understand, it’s my deeply wounded heart that made me behave that peculiar way. We trust upon our intuitions even if there is no guarantee they would be true; and think people can understand what we feel as if the screams of our wounded mind is in some audible frequency. I could not get another chance to meet Varghese, because all these days after that encounter I had been in a search for a route to find myself from what seemed an endless maze of confusing theories of ‘being what I am’.    

I spent the whole day in Kannur beach. Nothing productive happened. I was just beside myself. Then the sun went down. And darkness brought a whole new situation to the forefront. It was not where I would go; as my father had thrown me out of my house; but it was how tall would be the wall my absence could build inside my family.  
{Will be continued in the next post}

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Aiming the Impossible: An Artist's Memoir-III


My father decided it; I, his invisible son, will write the bank test.

He bought the application, paid the fee and asked me to attend for a coaching class that prepares candidates for the test for bank clerks. It just happened so, as if I never existed, not the ‘I’ my father’s psychopathic mind could see now, but the ‘I’ who is an artist, who is always a vaguely reflective crystal surface in front of him.  

I found no reason why I should tell him I could spend my time and money in a better way somewhere else. I was invisible. My voice would only seem wind-howls which meant nothing.

It was quiet on the day, my mind. It had stopped communicating with me. I was in my room looking blankly at my new painting which I titled the “Impossible Flight”, where I depicted a pigeon flying with a jet airplane. The impossible pace the pigeon took in the picture had given it a look that was close to an eagle. It was a pigeon transformed into an eagle.

“It’s time to go. Are you not dressed up yet?” Father asked. He was talking about the coaching class. As if the coaching class is absolutely normal. It is never close to normal for someone like me, but unfortunately that ‘me’ did not exist at that scene. “No. I am not coming.” Out of nowhere, as if the sun shows its diamond ring in its sudden lurch after a solar eclipse, the artist “I” jumped out of his hiding.

“What are you saying? Are you hoping God would help you? Then spread your hands and wait; let me see who would to help you.” He said all at a stretch as if he knew this moment in the past itself and rehearsed it well to suit it. I did not believe in God; because I couldn’t believe something I could not see in colour and texture. I thought it that way.  

I am progressive. There is no guarantee in a progressive person’s life when and where one becomes his enemy, like what happened that day with my father.

Just then he gave me a push. I went flying out of the door to the verandah, feeling something heavy in my heart. The weight in my heart might be due to the shock of the sudden push. However, Instead of thinking about father’s behaviour a movie came to my mind. I could not recollect its name, but I remembered its characters, all of them having special abilities, some pushing others away without even touching them!

There must not be any mention of my father or family when I talk with anyone about the whole issue. I had decided it prior to meeting John Varghese, one of my friends, a spiritual teacher and the proprietor of Maruthi automobiles Mechanical Showroom, Kannur section.

Without asking much questions, he said: “I understand your situation. Something similar had happened with me too. But that was long back when I was about to take huge decisions in my life, when I was a youngster. Now I am 50, but even now the thought of those days fills me with self-respect. I dared to follow something no one else believed worth following. You are doing the same.”
{Will be continued in the next post}

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aiming the Impossible: An Artist's Memoir

II
Beautiful days are like books, they smell good. It was a perfect day. After skipping the exam, I wandered around the city and got inspired. I did not attempt another Eligibility Test till this day, due to the sheer aversion to the process of testing one’s abilities with respect to someone else’s standards. It’s for a teacher, not for an artist. But how can a teacher teach art if he or she knows art in terms of its history alone?

As all contracts end, my contract with the private institution too ended one day. And a state came upon me, which is generally not very comfortable for parents; called joblessness. I remained jobless for the next four months until the local university needed an art teacher and my ill luck decided to favour me. Teaching in the university offered a new set of artistically stimulating period in my life. And like all artistically stimulating experiences this too was an ordeal. Ask any artist, the best of one’s works would be the product of the worst days of his life. Inspiration is mostly like lotus. Its roots lie in dirt.

Joblessness of their children endows parents with a sense of urgency. The time spent in jobless state is directly proportional to the degree of this urgency. This is a psychological state in which parents lose sight of their children physically and mentally. Children become invisible and their being becomes an alien equation to be sorted out. And they make impractical and illogical plans for their offspring who they can’t see or feel any more. Instead of the golden principle which dominated the family dinner-table, “there is a limit to the happiness money can buy”, money becomes the only matter of talk and the only idea worth living for.  

And in one the days of this specific psychic disorder my father decided that I should apply for the job of a clerk in a bank. 

{Will be continued in the next post}

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Artist’s Memoir

Writing memoir is like talking to oneself with frequency that is impossible for anyone else to decode. People might read but will see only words and stories, their meanings hidden deep behind somewhere in the chasm of the writer’s soul. A memoir is like a painting. Behind the bright and dull, there exists a world which only the blessed ones can occupy. Below is the memoir by my artist friend Prakash Pacha. He shared it with me after my incessant requests ever since I came to know he had dared to write, partly to satisfy my sense of superiority through judging the work, and partly due to my curiosity. It’s a long one for my blog, to be included in a single post. So I am dividing it into parts, hoping my friend Pacha would not mind. 
 Aiming the Impossible
I
I never tried this; writing. I feel insecure. This is not my thing. It is after the advice of my writer friend, that I am trying this. I had been teaching at a private art institute in Kannur, after my post graduation in Fine Arts.

Then came a moment when the so-called National Eligibility Test conducted by the University Grants Commission became the only criteria for teaching jobs in colleges. At this point in my life when I must find a job of my own and be independent from my family that still provides me, the Eligibility Test showed itself as a monster with chuffed perfection. In front of it I found my self inferior and helpless. To qualify the Test meant to do things the best way as they say. But I believe in doing things the best way I want. I am an artist for whom art is religion, and creativity God. Each moment spent at work is worship.

The test is special. Once you qualify, you are a part of the NET qualified teachers’ community. There will be questions in the exam that have nothing to do with art or creativity. The Answering in the test involves processes such as darkening the bubbles—the objective test—and a written test, where you are asked to write essays on what a specific art movement’s name means. I am artist, not an art historian. It thus eventually sucks all the creativity from your soul and leaves you dead.

The application was sent, the fee was paid and all the travel expenses were taken care of, by my family. The day of the exams came.

I had to go

It was in the examination hall I thought; if I wanted to sit for the whole day or not. The choice was mine. Sitting there for the whole day meant spending a day in front of a set of meaningless question papers prepared by university blockheads who have no idea what the word ‘art’ means, other than what their dusty old tomes told them.

So I rose and went out. 

{Will be continued in the next post}
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