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