I reach out to pick her paint brush: I want to smudge a bit of flake white hue on the peacock’s neck, just for fun!
A sheer cry of outrage emerges, ‘Not on my bird!’
‘ Hey! Once upon a time, I used to take classes with a renowned artist, my dear! Come on, let me dab a bit of paint too!’ I plead in vain.
The verdict is clear. Amma has to keep her hands off the oil painting. It is hers.
I remember the oil painting of the crying Mother Mary that I had made all those years ago.Dattan Sir had asked me to copy a masterpiece painting. The amount of white, brown and blue that I had used up- the specks, the smears, the dots and daubs!
I had taken the painting to my ship uncle. For some reason- definitely influenced by years of tension and trauma speckling those tangled skeins of family relationships- he was affected strongly by the art work and thought that I had intentionally ushered in tears in its wake. I heard that he spoke about it and then refused to keep the painting with him. Did the painting return to me? I still do not remember.
It took decades before he could understand that I was simply a teenager, who had offered her first oil painting, out of love and respect to the believer who prayed daily to the Holy Mother. To be a harbinger of pain – by painting the Pieta- was the last thing I had intended.
The proclivity for colours and doodling has passed on to the young one. Along with the obstinacy and the rest of the stubborn ilk.
‘ You can paint your own bird,’ she tells me, flicking her brush.
‘ Yes, it has been a long time,’ I murmur, still caught up in memories, ‘but we should not usher in tears if we can…’
She looks askance at me. Then, shrugging it off as another irrelevant Amma-talk , dips her brush in burnt sienna.
I look at ship uncle’s photograph kept on the side table.
From somewhere, he gazes back at me. Now, he understands.
Tears have no colour, do they? For a moment, I could have sworn, I saw tears in those eyes.