Uyir – The Art of Life

This story titled, “Uyir” is written for #WriteTribeProBlogger challenge, inspired by a kolam art pattern.

problogger art pattern

Uyir – The Art of Life

The painting was one of my favorites. No one understood why. It wasn’t anything great, just a random pattern colored neatly. Not a smidgen of color went outside the lines. It had no characters, no setting, nothing that breathed life.

“Why, Tammy?” asks one of the many admirers of my artwork. The gallery had been a success, and many had bought my art. New York had loved the work of the upcoming Indian artist.

As I looked at the painting, the memory came rushing back. It always did.

The sun was rising over the gopuram of the Devi temple nearby. She sat outside our home, humming a tune to herself. As I looked on, she put dots of white powder in a pattern. Once done, she’d connect the dots to make another pattern. Each day, it would be different. Each day, it would be beautiful. How steady her hand would be as she then sprinkled that pattern with colored powder. Not a smidgen went outside the lines. Not a grain of powder went to waste.

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“Why Tammy?” he asks again, breaking the chain of thoughts.

Tammy. The nickname had stuck, but only for the crowd. I see the painting’s name and her words spill into my soul again. I remember the times I had attempted the kolam, and gone outside the lines. Her encouragement is what kept me trying, and awakened a passion for art within me.

“Thamarai, nee thaan en uyir,” she would say.

“Thamarai, you are my life.” It was only fitting that this painting, my first ever painting, be named so. It was the only one that wasn’t for sale.

“Uyir – The Art of Life”

I read the name and smile happily. Art was life for me now. And many miles away, I imagine Amma would be smiling thinking of me too.

Liked this? Maybe you can read some of my earlier posts: for Write Tribe | Short Stories.

(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason,
2nd October, 2017)


Poetry & writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

62 thoughts on “Uyir – The Art of Life”

  1. The first thing that came to my mind was pulli-kolam as well. An intricate art that reminds me of my grandmother and the early morning air. You have rekindled a very fond and deep stashed memory. Thank you for this.

    • Oh. I remembered seeing it done a month back. It was so elaborate, and so precise, that I just sat there admiring. 😀 Glad it rekindled a memory, Anjana. 🙂 Thank you.

  2. Kolams have always attracted me too. In fact some of the ‘kolams’ by my erstwhile Tamilian neighbours in Ernakulam were so intricate and beautiful that I’d just look at them and wonder how they were done with such precision.
    You brought back those memories.
    Thank you.
    (Geeta Nair recently posted… Life as I see it)My Profile

  3. Vinay, yours is the first story I read in this challenge and I am glad I did so. Beautiful story, narrated even more beautifully. The emotions of the artist come across so vividly that I could see the smile on his face when he thought of his amma.

  4. I marvel too at the ease with which the rangoli makers draw patterns or the Mehindi wallas pipe out design trails one after the other. Its mesmerising to watch their work and for me a great stressbuster is to go and get mehindi put on my hands as I am soothed by the way he draws the designs on my hands.

    Does UYIR mean life Vinay?
    (SHALINI BAISIWALA recently posted… “Monetarily up yours ” is the common anthem of Private sector banks [ #writebravely ])My Profile

  5. You need to invest your deepest emotions into your art, to create something truly beautiful. Lovely story. I could visualise her creating the kolam, and the little boy watching his Amma. Great start to the challenge. ?

  6. Lovely story. It reminded me of the time when I decided to introduce kolam in one the stories in my book. It was meant for grade 4 and kids loved it. There is something about art that makes it divine to me.

  7. That’s an incredible take on pattern Vinay. Kolam (Muggu in Telugu) is indeed very close to my heart. I love creating muggu with colors on festive days! Me and my mom share the load, she makes the outline with white powder and i fill it with colors. This post brought back many fond memories 🙂

    • Kolam is quite close to many hearts, I feel. It’s almost part of a routine, one that many do not want to break! 🙂 Glad my story could bring back fond memories for you, Keerthi.

  8. That’s a lovely one Vinay. Kolams are new for me – 11 years new. I have always loved them here in Bangalore and I have so many pictures of kolams. My friends at work have shared its significance and that makes me admire the art more. 🙂 That’s a lovely kolam too.
    (Parul Thakur recently posted… A giggle and a click)My Profile

  9. This one reminded me of my mom’s intricate Alpana art that we do during Laxmi puja every year. So many miles away from home, this one just touched a chord in me and rekindled memories of my growing up years that seems like another lifetime now. Another beautifully written piece from you, Vinay!

  10. Ah! we all find happiness in our imperfect perfection (I’m not good at kolam – we call it rangoli, yet I feel proud to show off) . your piece, though is perfect and precise.

  11. The way the kolam pattern is used to weave a story is very interesting. I have seen it in the courtyard of certain homes in Kerala. While my appreciation goes to the complexity, symmetry and precision in a kolam pattern, I also wonder about the reasons for it being restricted to certain households only.

    • Hello, Prasanna. I’ve seen it rarely in Kerala. 🙂 It’s not restricted by household, but maybe by choice. Not everyone wants to do it because it is so precise!

  12. Beautiful story, Vinay. And beautiful kolum. Reminded me of the one my Mom-in-law used to make every Diwali. Not one dot or line would be crooked despite her trembling hands (she had been on anti-psychotic drugs which brought about the tremors).
    It is something about the kolum that brings the artist alive!
    (Shilpa Gupte recently posted… Self-love…quotes for the ‘self’.)My Profile

    • Me too. There were two housekeeping ladies at the office recently. Drew a big, beautiful kolam within minutes! Stunned! 😀

      I love the word Uyir too, SSJ. A very beautiful word, I feel. Glad you loved the story!

  13. Wow! I was blank after reading the prompt – ‘Pattern’. And here you thought of kolam! :O
    But what a lovely story! I especially loved the names you used- Thaamarai, Uyir! Well-thought! 🙂
    (Shalini recently posted… A Pattern)My Profile

  14. Some patterns set the life with a great pattern, isnt it? With your post learnt a new phrase “Uvir”! I can now see that there are so many intricate patterns in my life with my own Uvirs!
    – Anagha from Team MocktailMommies

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