Sunday, November 13, 2011

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


V
“Prakash Pacha is dead!”
“Artist Pacha passed away.”
I visualized these headlines in my mind. One was more proximate, the first headline. The second seemed much far away; the artist, which I could never be.

Though the visualization itself had no material grounding and just a hypothetical exercise in order to find an answer to a question that never existed, the process of imagining these titles gave me some sort of satisfaction. Peace. But then an acute sense of tragedy overwhelmed me. I was the tragedy. If I die now, my death would be a suicide. And suicides would be reported as ‘suicides’ not “death” or “passed away”, moreover, which news paper would cover my death. I was nothing, which I still am, for that matter. The sense of this tragic nothingness pushed me even harder than my genitor.

“What are you saying? Are you hoping God would help you? Then spread your hands and wait; let me see who would come to help you.”
My ears never rang, but that day.

My self had been divided into two; logical and emotional. My mind had reached the end of a monotonous indifference. For no specific reason, I felt slightly uplifted. I felt a delicate smile trailing through the right end of my lips, the euphoria of a warrior running towards his enemy soldier to kill or get killed. My logic had been forcing me to go back home. It showed me the fear of the wall my absence could build inside my family. It made me think about the lack of any sleeping space, and free food in the future; being an outcast sounded luxury. I trusted none of my friends to come for my help in hard time. Not because I was unfaithful to them or they are not good people, but they had their own problems to deal with and life had its own betrayal games to play with them.

No. I do not blame any of my dear and near. I love my family. I love all of them. I am the culprit. I could not face them. I realized I was slipping into a dark dungeon. My smile had vanished. The pale light seemed to diminish. I sat down on the concrete slab in the shelter. It was my emotional self, reminding me of another sort of loss, a loss that I could never be able to fill; the loss of love. My beloved ones are abandoning me because I pursued a path that was deemed impossible. I saw in the dim light the distant shape of a temple. I closed my eyes and prayed. I apologized, to a God that was darkness in the pale street light, for what I had done to my family. We sometimes say sorry and hardly mean it. That was one of such moments in my life.   

I got off the bus that dropped me close to my home, in the local bus station. The rest of the distance home should be walked. But my feet stood still. There was a bus shelter nearby. I went in.

There were very few people in the bus station, as it was half past nine at night. I wanted to hold on to someone or something. I wanted to be looked at by some empathetic eye. And I found a pair of eyes at the shelter looking unfriendly at the new arrival in the limited space. Perhaps it was a beggar. I could not see in the dim light inside the shelter.

Being an artist and an art work oneself are two different things. The latter is more threatening. I felt one at that time; the portrait of a confused young man, inside a dark cubbyhole, the bus shelter, with a pale background. It was the street bulb. I was ever more visible in that picture than at any other point in time. It was confusing too. I was alone, but with a beggar who is just a patch in the darkness of the portrait. But still I was visible more than being with all those who belonged in my family, those streaks of brilliant colours.

I thought of my painting at home about the “Impossible Flight”. The pigeon that took the flight had the form of an eagle. A pigeon transformed into an eagle. “When you follow something no one else believed worth following, you will undergo tremendous transformation.” John Varghese had said.

The pale colour was also the colour of uncertainty, or that was how I fixed it in my mind. There was no such accepted notion I hear anywhere which defined the colour between yellow and white as the colour of uncertainty. It was my decision, my choice. It is ridiculous how we all cling to our obstinacy to live on when the ground below our feet skips away mercilessly. Perhaps it is life that makes us adamant. Life is a teacher that teaches thorough a series of betrayals.

John Varghese had said something else too. What Varghese said did not fit proper with any of my divided selves. It was altogether a different situation. “Transformation means resurrection too,” John Varghese had said.

So I chose.
I decided not to go back home.
{Will be continued in the next post}
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