Thirteen year old Anil has big eyes and they are searching for something all the time. It sparked when he saw us opening the colour bag. “Aaap painting kartey ho?” (you guys paint?) he asked with glitters in his eyes.
He was asked by the family we were staying with, to assist us in the process of painting. For next many hours, Anil didn’t move an inch from there.
Helping us in moving the furniture, making the colors, lightening the bulb and ultimately he joined us in painting on the wall. Anil, in just a few minutes, made a relation with us through his interest in drawing.
Our stay in Udhampur was facilitated and mediated by a family member. He gave us the contact of Sindhuja.
Sindhuja who has worked with media for some years and now is a freelancer with United Nations and many other organizations, read our blogs and invited us to paint in her mother’s school.
She wanted us to make something in the little angel’s school run by her family. Due to summer vacation, only the caretakers lived there.
The day we were suppose to paint, Meenakshi got severe dehydration and was almost bedridden. With all the sugar-salt syrup she recovered and decided to paint next day in the evening.
Sindhuja also loves to paint but with two babies ( a three year old and another eight months old) it was difficult for her to focus on art.
Since she couldn’t join us, she asked Anil and his brother to help us by providing water, lights etc.
We had no idea that Anil or his brother might be interested in painting but the colour bag did the trick for us.
Sindhuja and her family wanted us to paint something which has a social message and what else could have been better than Gandhi’s three monkey…..with a twist…
Gandhi’s fishes depicting see no evil, speak no evil and listen no evil.
Meenakshi spotted Anil’s interest in art and asked him if he would like to paint. He was reluctant, actually scared. But once Meenakshi made the outline and gave him a brush, he jumped on to it.
We watched him silently working on his fish. His hands were steady. He was learning with every stroke. Seeing and asking Meenakshi about colours and patterns, he flared.
In the meantime he showed us his few paintings which he had done in his school but the heartbreaker came after a while.
When he felt comfortable enough, he apprised us that, ‘’you asked me to paint but in my village I used to get beaten up by my teachers whenever I painted.’’
Anil is glad that he is no more in that school and the government school he is studying appreciates his art.
After the painting finished, we clicked few pictures as we had to leave for Srinagar the next day. We promised Anil that on the way back to Delhi we will meet him and he promised that he will do some paintings for us.
After one week we met again and he complained- “you told me you will come on 26th and you came on 27th”. That was the love he must have felt for us. We saw his paintings and got the good news as well.
Sindhuja and her family has asked Anil to do some paintings in the other branch of the school in a distant village.
Anil was happy and so we were.
We cant measure what art gives us. The feeling can’t be explained. Anil doesn’t know about the big art market and money some artists make. He doesn’t know the politics of the big studios and the murky world of art politics.
He paints because he loves painting and that’s the prerequisite to become an artist. This is what we have understood in our little journey so far as artists and we are glad that we helped another one in continuing his interest in Art.