The Smudged Portrait
The Smudged Portrait
That night after almost a year you crept into my room, clad in silk white, along with the simmering glow of the moon. Since the cool breeze brushed off the satin curtains, the moonlight kept busy playing a hide and seek game. You didn’t bother to revive the lights in the room so I could hardly make out your face except when the moon beams sneaked in and out I caught a glimpse of your pale parted lips and the hair strands falling on your temples that made you blink in discomfort. On any other occasion you would have stormed into my room like a cheerful kid blabbering all your exciting new events in life. But this time I don’t know I noticed this defeaning silence in your demeanour, the one that exists after a dreadful gale is over. You came closer to me, and laid your hands on my faded face. Your fingers were cold lacking the same softness but to me your touch after such a long hiatus was like what water meant to a sailor. The smell of your distinct scent brought back fond memories.
You pulled off the sheets and adjusted me before picking up the pallette and splashing colours on me. I noticed your lace detailing flung at the edge of your wrists turning wet. I didn’t know what had happened that made you wear white because you hated it. I overheard people in the family speaking about how you were well decked up at the wedding, tinkling jewelleries adorning your neck, and red stones glittering on your lehenga- I wished to see you, happy and bubbly at the altar but I didn’t attend it and ended up spending the day being locked up in my room. Yes, I was extremely fueled with rage when you left me for that man of your dreams. I thought you had loved me more than anything in the world yet you chose him over me. My fault, that I expected you to be different but you didn’t do anything about it except murmur an apology and shed your tears at the dilemma. Maybe you were not as addicted to me as I was to you. I promised myself I would never see you again and I was pretty sure you wouldn’t ever return either, but I prayed you need me again soon.
Alas today that happened, but I failed to recognise you any longer. Maybe because conjugal ties have changed you. But I still wondered what was the reason you decided to come back to me suddenly.
You kept filling me up, caressing my face with your fingers, drawing lines over it, stroking gently. I couldn’t see what colour you applied on me but I was certain you didn’t switch the poster bottles until towards the end. I wanted to ask you what was wrong but I somehow understood you were not interested to talk so I kept quite. After finishing up you moved back and watched me from a distance, just how you would view every one of your creations. But this time I saw you sitting on the marble floor with your head bowed down crouching your legs and wrapping your arms around them. I looked at you and for the first time in the last few hours, I clearly saw pain rolling down your cheeks, and your eyes which hardly ever wept had turned moist.
Those eyes were weary, it lost the brightness they carried. It made my heart pound in fear because I never knew marital bliss would modify into grief that too so quickly. I was dying for you to speak but you kept staring at me with those blank eyes devoid of all the glow that had once been my most favourite. I waited to know what as wrong and then your voice boomed in the empty room, the rough voice bereft of the melody it had earlier- “You must be very happy now, because you proved to be right, I missed you and I shouldn’t have ever gone without you. I know it was a mistake, a blunder to have let go off you for him. But I tried you know I tried hard to make him believe I loved him, I thought he did too. I thought he meant every vow he took, but it was a prison cell, every night he choked me as he pressed against me like a wild monster. You see these bruises, they are all gifts from him” As you pulled up your sleeves I could make out the wounds at various spots, the severe wounds on your beautiful face and I shuddered a little almost jerking off from my stool. I realised you had shrunk horribly.
“He devoured my body but my soul got scarred, I am so tired and suffocated with this life of mine. They tell me I am being a spoilsport, that I never learnt to sacrifice but do you think so? Didn’t I sacrifice the most precious thing of my life for that man? You were my world and I gave up on you because he didn’t like you enough! Still they refused to support me. I know they don’t want me here and I don’t will to be there either. You cursed me right, see it got miraculously fulfilled”, the smirk lingered on her lips for a while and that mocking tone ripped me apart like a knife being stabbed.
But she continued, “I am not Alone I know there are some friends who keep visiting me regularly to ask me if I am doing fine, whether they should accompany me outside the house for a walk, some even advise me to make ammends and listen to his demands. But I am Lonely, very Lonely despite having an audience laughing at the cost of me, taunting at the spectacle that I had become. I am sorry for everything, I am sorry that I dissapointed you, that I couldn’t decide on my priorities, that I don’t have the courage and strength to fight any longer.”
I could feel the tension rising between us as she got up and took something from over the desk beside. Outside the leaves ruffled and heavily slapped on the window pane as the fierce wind entered the room with a gusto- I shook again but I didn’t fail to glance over at your palms clutching at a sharp paper cutter and your vision pierced through me like a nail. You smiled, that smooth sleak soothing smile that you gave everytime after you painted on me depicting your satisfaction at the output. Within a second I felt another dash of fluid on me as your head hit the ground with a dull thud. Through whatever little light that seeped in I realised you were soaked in a pool of blood, which had sprinkled on me from your slit wrists. I was so shocked that I couldn’t even scream, I could barely stand properly, and then the wind knocked me off.
As I lied there at a slight distance from you I wanted to desperately see what you had painted on me today, but the darkness blinded me. I wished to run around, pick you up and erase the stains on you so that you can breathe again, so that you kiss me with your brushes again. I was unable to reach out to you. Yes, all these months I waited for you to return, to beg for forgiveness but I never imagined you would return only for a night that too punishing me with a rock of guilt for a lifetime. Your chest heaped up and down for almost a minute and then it stopped, I just couldn’t do anything to help you recover, except watch you drown into your own heaven. Then everything went blurry as we both slipped into eternal sleep.
Next Morning as the glaring sunlight seeped in through the windows, her house maid discovered her and let out a blood curdling shriek as she stepped into the room. Within a few minutes her family gathered around sobbing, panicking, hyperventilating as they desperately tried to wake her up.
Just at a little distance lay the canvas board tipped over, with a female figure on it, dressed in all white against a black background with twinkling stars. She stood facing the darkness, her hair locks let loose that carelessly fell on her shoulders but what grabbed attention was the Red hue splattered across her white gown that had dried up now. She left a mark on him, an indelible imprint that won’t ever be removed.
Does death really have the power to separate an Artist from the Art? For some forever is never just an illusion