The door makes a noisy creaking as I push open the wooden block and enter the room. “Close the door, please” says a familiar voice. I oblige. While pushing the door back to its original place, I can’t help but wonder how even after all these years, the voice has not lost its charm, although its intensity and passion can’t be found anymore.
I try to adjust my eyes to the dim lit room. The only light is a narrow shaft of the setting sun’s rays through the slightly parted curtains, as it tries to illuminate the darkness that is engulfing this place. A reeking smell of cigarette smoke fills up the air.I look around trying to make my way through the now forgotten pieces of canvases and paint. At the far end of the room, a flash of fire goes up to light another cigarette.I catch a glimpse of the tired and weary frame lying on the arm chair. I pull a beanbag and settle down next to it.
“Let me open the windows, it will be nice and refreshing”, I say and start towards the window. “No, let it be, darkness is sometimes good for the soul” comes the reply. I oblige once again, settling myself back into the beanbag.
Even though her optimism is lost, the soul searching has not stopped. A few years back this same soul was the chirpy nonstop chatter box who had helped me come out of the biggest depression of my life and it’s unbelievable to see her today at the place where I stood some time back.
I uneasily fiddle on my seat trying to find words to begin a conversation and break the wall she has created around herself. Why does it seem so difficult?
“Don’t try so hard” she says, reading my mind. I gaze at her and reply “Trying is what you have taught me. Remember you always used to say, There’s no harm in trying, even if you don’t gain, there’s nothing to lose.” A thin smile appears on her face. “I see you have taken all my words to heart, child.” The words are followed by a puff of smoke. “Yes, I have. They hold true after all and work wonders, don’t you think?” A hollow laugh goes up from her as she replies, “Wonders, huh? They don’t exist.”
Well I have hit the wall again! How has a single experience turned this forever optimist into a cynic that I can’t relate to? How has life been so cruel on her as to totally turn around her way?
“Show me one of your recent paintings, I don’t remember the last I saw”, I try once again. She stares back at me quizzically, “You really want to? Don’t think you will find it to your taste.” “I insist” I say. “Well if you insist”, with these words she pulls up her fragile frame from the arm chair and walks towards the table. She picks up a small canvas leaning against the ottoman and hands it to me. I try to study and understand the theme on the thick piece of cloth. These are not the usual colours I would find in her creations. The piece is covered in the hues of darkest colours and myriad brush strokes. I look back at her with a blank expression. “Well I told you, it won’t be to your taste” she says.
“This is not even to your taste; this can’t have been done by you!” I retaliate. A sarcastic smirk is followed by “This is my inner and outer world, child. What else did you expect?” “I expect…. I expect you to come out of this misery that you have drowned yourself into. Come back into the world where you belong, back to the life that is yours!” I try to stubbornly voice my thoughts.
She chides me with a pat on my cheeks, “Ah! Expectations! I don’t belong anywhere and neither anything belongs to me. The world is meaningless, child. But to answer your expectations, one day I might find the courage to walk back into what you call world, until then this is where I need to be, emotionally and physically.” I start to give another argument but she cuts me and says, “It’s getting late, you should get going.”I nod and get up to leave. She walks me up to the door and says, “I like you, keep visiting, won’t you?” “Yes, of course!” I reply. I take my leave from her by hugging her. She unexpectedly smiles and plants a small peck on my forehead and says, “Be blissful.”
And you too, I send out a small prayer as I walk towards the faint light of the dusk.