Thursday, December 17, 2015

Unfinished Business

The table was blue. Foldable. Just about 2 feet tall. It had a light blue piece of sunmica fitted on its top. Accompanying it in the set was a small chair. I forget the colour of it now. It was a gift, the set, for my kid sister. And it was used well. On afternoons that she would industriously sit and work on her homework on the blue table.

She outgrew them, the table and chair. Then, the base of the table came off, leaving behind just the blue coloured top, more a board now. But we kept it, like everything else that is always kept in an Indian household because it might come in handy someday. And it did.

I discovered the book ‘Painting With Pastels’ in my uncle’s book collection and brought it home, along with sandpaper, Camel Oil Pastels, charcoal pencils and a red box containing drawing clips. I decided it was time to explore my creative side. So I used the blue board and clipped some sandpaper to it using the drawing clips, carefully putting them back in the red box whenever I was done. I began enjoying myself, turning out paintings that were far beyond my expectation. My mother, not one for keeping amateur drawings out of sentiment (it applied only to stuff), even decorated a corner of our room with my paintings. And that made me feel like I had a future…with the blue board, the sandpaper, the pastels and the drawing clips.

It all came back to me while watching a rerun of Dhobi Ghat yesterday and watching Arun (Aamir Khan) sit with a similar board and paper and clips. Except Arun was a famous painter. I am not.

The blue board is gone. Finally thrown away. The drawing clips misplaced, lost. The pastels long worn out and discarded. And gone with it all is my potential. The one I never tended to. The one no one ever asked me to tend to. Because I was scoring well in the sciences. And set for a career in engineering.

That's how the things I cared for and enjoyed fell by the wayside in my journey with the crowd. I became an engineer because that’s what we all do. It was after years of walking with the crowd, like you do on crowded pavements in big cities, that I turned around one day. And I saw the fallen pieces by the wayside…of the things that I cared about. And then I started jostling my way back through the crowd…to the places where the pieces had fallen. To pick up from where I left off.