The Mirror6 mins 175 6 mins 175
One of the most dreadful things in life is a mirror. Mirror is a constant reminder of who you are and what you are not. The witches in the fancy fables have hated them for the mirrors always extolled the virtues of beauties, of the Snow Whites and the Cinderellas so to satisfy their own ego they would try and destroy these Princesses for mirror is that one true factor that cannot be destroyed nor can it be silenced. I too faced a similar predicament today when I had a look into a mirror of my own and for the better or worse I acted the same way as the witches do.
Well, it all started this morning when I rushed out of the house on the daily chores that marked the start of my day. It was a major struggle to move out of the warm confines of my home into the chilly gushes of winter breeze that marked this vast expanse of the weekly vegetable market that had sprung up on the boulevard occupying the roads like vehicles were supposed to fly over them. But, as with everything quintessentially Indian, this chaos would be resolved on its own before it would start impacting anyone seriously.
I take a look at the list my mother has handed me. One look and it was enough for me to realize that she had written almost anything that would have crossed her mind, without giving any thoughts to how difficult it might be to get everything on that long list written on a thin roll of paper in such a way that it seemed like a royal fireman straight out of a Kings chamber, and firman it was for non-compliance would result in a lengthy lecture that would surely not be worth the effort that I was thinking of forsaking.
Agitated and cold, I started at the beginning of the market asking for the prices and examining the produce. The ‘green leafy vegetables’ were no longer green with a hint of brownish yellow hue spreading itself, the fruits were mushy and despite the chilling weather had started to soften pointing to the rot that seemed inevitable. I move on with a shrug and a nod, as the vendors look expectantly at me while I inquire about the prices.
The cycle of monotonous inquiry was broken off by a quarrel at a distance between a man and a woman who despite the obvious difference in their ages, seemed like a husband and a wife because of the intensity and ferociousness of their argument that had a strong element of passion underlying. She was bickering how he was wasting his time on meaningless drawings while she was forced to work which was very degrading to her. He however continued to look at his canvas with a gaze full of love and admiration like a mother looking at her newborn child. There were other painting lying around which I assumed were there for sale.
I moved in closed to the vendor selling red chillies so that I could get a better view without being noticed eavesdropping. The vendor seeing my disinterest in his ‘little red Devils’ as he boasted to me and to others by shouting at the top of his lungs, stopped his vocal promotion to tell me that I was wasting my time on the crazies. Apparently hoping that telling me their story would somehow coerce me into buying his chillies, he told me that they were a couple who owned a farm of their own on the outskirts of the town and would invariably have one of the biggest stall at every farmer’s market held in the area. But all that was now a thing of the past when the man suddenly realized his passion for painting which by the red-devil-seller’s account was a comparable to a child’s scribblings and would never fetch anything. He had tried selling his art to some of the rich folk that would descend from their plush apartments and societies to buy the vegetables from the villagers whom they would otherwise not even feel worthy of looking at.
Interested by this account I somehow felt drawn towards this man who was so out of his place. I looked at some of his paintings which were not as bad as the child’s scribblings as I had been told and rather had an element of charm which everyone else had overlooked. He had drawn a couple of sceneries that although beautiful, had nothing that would set it apart or make it to a drawing room of a moneybag. However his portrait of a pregnant woman in a crematorium had the right tone of melancholy and the sadness that served the self with a reminder of our mortal nature while providing the hope that was necessary to survive.
Intrigued by the depth of his observations I asked him why he was selling his art in a vegetable market in such a chilly weather when the most likely choice for someone to sell it would be a pretentious gallery lit up by every kind of light warmed by an air-conditioner welcoming the appreciators of his art. He looked up with an air of disapproval at my suggestion, “My art belongs to where I belong. If someone wants it they will have to come here, I will not be a sell-out just because all others all. If you want anything, pay the amount written or move on, don’t rob me of this fine setting”.
I was shocked at his rudeness and his utter stupidity but something in his eyes told me that he was not being a fool. He knew his art was worth the arrogance that he had and doing anything other than what he was doing and the way he was doing was bound to fail. His wife got up from the small vegetable stall that she was minding, tried to talk me into buying one of his works but soon realized that his words had hurt me so bad that even the best of his art would not be enough to overcome the repulsion I was experiencing at that moment. As I moved one, she looked at me with a look of apology on the behalf of her husband and started to yell at him again.
I had by then moved on and bought the vegetables and fruits that I was expected to show up with at my home but somehow I could not take my eyes off the genius who was aware of his value but would not acknowledge that he was selling it wrong.
Later the day, I caved in to the suggestion that everyone had for me and decided to take down the stories that I had written for the blog and mail them to a publication which offered to publish some of them in a upcoming book along with other ‘budding’ authors some of whom I had previously humiliated for being inferior to me.