India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country… Yes, I love this corrupt, dearth-stricken, hungry, ragged, homeless country. I love the litter, sewage, rowdiness, flippant movie songs, hoodlums and goons, pollution and famines in this country. Stray dogs on roads, wandering cattle, dirty pigs and flocks of […]
In my school life I always got nine on ten when it came to painting. I always lost one mark for not drawing a border…or a frame around my painting. Thankfully nobody insisted that I should get ten on ten. I thought nine marks were absolutely delightful score and continued drawing without any frame!
In high school I failed the government drawing exam, probably for being disqualified without the frame! That is when I decided to understand the “core” of art. Now of course I know that there is no such “one” core to understand. Silently this mystic world of lines and shades weaved an invisible envelope around me. I watch the world through its highly transparent but highly effective screen! I perceive the world as an object of a painting. And to be able to communicate with you all, I must express through the same invisible screen… this layer, instead of limiting my expression, has only made it beautiful. My painting still has no frame to it…and now after failing in their terms; nobody is going to cut any marks for it! What a delight art can be!
Years ago I used to dream…about erecting tall skyscrapers in my home town. I dreamed of watching this city from a lofty terrace up there…. I was young and eager to build a new era for this city. I loved this city.
But something has gone wrong in last couple of years. No…I still love this place, I call it home…don’t I?! But I do not want any skyscrapers here….not anymore. Me and my friends…we have lived here for generations. But we will neither afford a house in those… nor the lifestyle that must be bought as well.
I know who will afford it all…. Those few people for whom we toil day and night. They will buy what was rightfully ours. They will show us a dream…. that if we work harder someday maybe we can be like them…. Maybe! And someday we will really afford it all…but we’ll be too old and worn out with hard work, to enjoy it. We will be acutely aware of those who were robbed of living so that we could buy some luxuries…..and the plushness will feel so vacant somehow. We will learn to not notice the emptiness…not feel too much, not even pure happiness.
It is a cruel joke… such dark humor that I feel not like laughing at all. But the glamor-dressed reality of the building trade has taught me something. The people that I slaved for will never let me change the fate of this city. They will offer me a glorious chance to build my dream city on their terms…just a few compromises! I would build it on any terms… as long as I get to build. But it will be them who own my dream. They will sell it piece by piece, to those who can afford to buy. I will stay in a cubbyhole for the rest of my life and watch the skyscrapers with pride…. “I built it!” I will stand in the long queues, suffocate in jammed roads and I will look up to the skyscrapers once in a while, coughing and retching, “I built it”. Poor will become poorer, rich will become richer, I will watch them rob each other in turns…. I’d want to look away…to the skyscrapers… “I built it”
Ten years down the line I do not want to think that I built it all…I helped them build this horrific world. I know they will build it anyway…much worse without me. But now I do not want any part of it. My home is about to be destroyed. And I am going to run for my life. Many have fled before me. I laughed at them, called them cowards. But now I must run too…jump off from this sinking ship.
Lucky for me I know how to build. I will find a secluded island somewhere… and build another home there… a home that will not be built on the corpses of my fellow brothers…a home that will be an ascetic’s cave…. and nothing more.
I know there are more like me…. They will come too. I will build for them… I will build with love. The land will heal and blossom under my touch. I will blossom with her…someday to die in peace and return back to the sweet earth.