Over time, I’ve come to realize that people always tried to flatter me. There were exceptions to this observation but those were few. So I’ve taken every compliment with a smile and continued to work on my art, and not put on airs. When this stranger told me he could connect with an unfinished painting, I was surprised.
The piece was my favorite. I could easily picture the end result in my head and it was taking shape as I wanted it to. The exhibit was both a blessing and a bane at the same time. While it offered me the opportunity to showcase my works and make some money, it also distracted my thoughts and took away the calmness I had in my studio.
When I looked at Ansh, I saw he was observing me. It was only then I realized I hadn’t spoken for five minutes. What was it in his words that surprised me into silence? Or was it the way he had spoken them? I didn’t know. Flattery, I could recognize easily. And I had a readymade answer for that. Did that mean his praise was genuine? Or was he flirting perhaps?
“What could you understand?” I asked him, finally breaking the silence. The other ‘art lovers’ seemed to not notice. They continued to stare into my art. I could recognize those empty stares. I had seen them before, and my heart readied itself to reply to their ‘words of praise’ that would eventually come.
“Er… that’s a trick question. Nope, not gonna answer that,” he said, laughing.
He looked at me, and saw I wasn’t laughing. Maybe that threw him off.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to offend. Just that my understanding may not be what you intended to say, and if that’s the case, it might offend you too. Sis and I read a lot. And each novel is completed in its own way by the reader. That’s what we feel anyways. Painting, like writing, is an art. So won’t each admirer’s point of view be different too?”
“Just tell me what you understood, you idiot!” I wanted to shout at him. Gosh! Why do people have to assume I want only my point of view showcased in the painting? How infuriating! Such a simple question and he goes and puts a big philosophy on it!
“Sorry. Please excuse me,” I say, and walk away before he can reply. The painting will have to wait. I need some peace of mind. And the aroma of paneer makhani from the buffet is alluring.
“I’ll see you soon!” he shouts. Every person in the hall would have heard him, but I pretend not to.
“Don’t count on it, mister!” I whisper. But a part of me hopes I’m wrong too.
(© Vinay Leo R. @ I Rhyme Without Reason,
11th October, 2018)