One skill that my younger one has not learned is to accept a compliment gracefully. So when his brother’s friend said that he would like to use his painting for the cover of his album, all Aditya gives is a disbelieving grunt. Zubin tries to make him comfortable.
“Tell me what that painting means, Adu.”
But Adu isn’t going to do anything like that, not if he can help it. More grunts and squirms. Appu is mildly supportive of his brother – he too is pretty reluctant to come up with explanations for his work. He feels the viewer should interpret it as he/she wishes it.
Zubin is not one to leave things so easily. “OK, I’ll tell you what it means to me.”
“To me it means enlightenment. There’s the man in darkness. The yellow is light, sun, enlightenment, that is coming to him. That’s how I see it.” Zubin’s insights have often amazed me.
We can see Adu beginning to thaw.
“You know, when you’re a major artist and all that, people will want to know what your paintings mean. You’ll have to tell them.” Zubin adds for good measure. The prospect of being a major artist and all that is something very few eleven-year-olds can resist. Adu gives in.
“OK – I’ll tell you what I felt when I did it. You know how when we are happy, the things around us seem all bright and good and all that…?
“And when we are sad, things seem dark and not good? You know what I mean? The things might be actually good and all that, but to a sad person, they don’t seem good, they seem all dark and sort of misty? That’s what I meant.”
“Wow!” I say, more to myself than to him. That painting had been made for and given to me in an attempt at peace-making, after one of our fairly regular fights. His world had certainly not been a happy one at the time.
I think of all the issues he has to deal with – a whole world which, for reasons that perplex him, seems to want him to change, change and change more. He wants to sit at the computer, or play with his bey-blades, or read, or draw, or just dream…but the world wants him to eat his food, complete his notes, study, or do his homework … His demons are large and black, and they pursue him relentlessly. True, things aren’t often very good, most of the time, they must seem all dark and sort of misty. And he himself, just a tiny grey presence that sits in a corner, bemused.
Enlightening, aren’t they – the perspectives of an eleven-year-old?