A Painting and a Story # 15
Meenu (short for Meenakshi) peers hopefully into her "Gift Collection Cupboard" to see if she can find something for her friend. She is going to a baby shower later this weekend. And she needs a gift. She wants to see Sindhu's face light up when she opens her gift. Her eyes become big, her dark pupils shine and her cheeks burst with joy. Meenu wants to see that. Meenu rummages through multiple options. Sequinned bags, a bunch of plastic flowers, a hand-carved wooden box, beads on a string, terracotta Ganesha.... "so many oh so beautiful things" that Meenu has picked up at various exhibitions on a whim. You know, how you go to these places with a 'Spending Will' and you end up buying things. Pretty things... But!!!
She hurries into the gift shop down the street. The helpful salesman hovers around offering suggestions and thrusting colourful knickknacks under her nose. Meenu is sympathetic. The guy is doing his job... enthusiastically... be calm. she tells herself. Naa... Nothing here will bring that spark. Meenu is desperate. Should she buy a dress? a stole? An earing? Calm down Meenu! She does some self talk. Imagine Sindhu's eyes lighting up. Imagine her face radiant with joy.... she tells herself.
Meenu does that. She closes her eyes and imagines a face lit up with joy. She is startled. She is now little Meenu! She sees her mother's face. It is radiant with satisfaction. It's like she has won the heaven itself! ..... Little Meenu is curious. What has Amma brought from her neighbour's house that is making her so ecstatic? Meenu peers into the plastic basket that Amma has left on the dining table. It has a few beetal leaves, 2 areca nuts, a fruit and a bag of boiled gram. Meenu digs into the boiled gram (irresistible snack) but she can't understand. What is so special about this? Why is her Amma so happy!
Adult Meenu recalls the answer her mother had given her. 'The fresh beetal leaves, delicate jasmine flowers, jingle of glass bangles, ... to her all this signify a confirmation of a rich and fruitful life. "What more can one ask for... than a blessing of hope and life?" She had asked and walked away humming a happy tune. Meenu knows what she should do. She picks up a stole... just like that.
And then it's the day of the baby shower!
Meenu arrives early. Sindhu has a nice baby bump. Dressed in a green saree she receives her at the door. Meenu watches Sindhu's face light up as she hands over to her a big bunch of richly fragrant rajnigandha - (tuberoses) - her best-loved flowers. And yes, Sindhu's eyes become big, her dark pupils shine and her cheeks burst with joy! ....The stole?... ya that too!
A baby's smile, your puppy's eyes, swaying green grass, a mother's lap, a lover's hug, a hot cup of tea, a spouse watching a film with you because you want to watch it, a job well done ... these bring joy that stay with us in our mind. Yes, the big car, the exquisite silk dress, the award, bring moments of happiness. But what we essentially remember is the emotion attached to sharing the experience with others. We want to feel valued. A cup of tea can say 'I VALUE YOU' as efficiently as a diamond necklace? If you can't make that cup of tea... then you need to buy that diamond!
My painting for this week is an offer of life and hope.
Tamboolam - Water colour.