The sun shines right through some people. If you’re at the right place at the right time, you’ll see how they carry the burden of the joy that fills your world. It’s a very private burden. To know it feels wrong.
But if you hold her hand in an imaginary land where to know is not a crime, you’ll feel the water slipping through her fingers; living water flowing from veins ripped open by the world. It falls on the grass and makes words grow like tress and bear music.
She is what people call a muse.
In this world that I’ve made up in my head, where lions escort us through the wilderness of harsh and bitter reality, I am constantly reminded of how undeserving I am of the beauty that she inspires. Is she a memory, a meeting of the earth and sky? Am I in love? Is this what it feels like?
White softness, submissive and complying, sits before me with its back against the easel and asks me, “Do you see me?”
“Huh?”, I ask, my eyes returning to focus on the perfect edges of the paper.
“Do you see me?”, it asks again, quieter this time. Much quieter.
“No”, I say and run my index finger over my eyebrow.
How could I? I’m an artist after all. I’m supposed to see things on the paper. The paper alone means nothing to me. It hides behind colour in near perfect submission. It lays no demands for the focus of a trained eye or the sweet caress of a surrendering hand. It wears whatever I give it and flaunts it in absolute stillness. Why would I ever see it?
But today, I’m forced to. Today, I must surrender my title and see nothing. I must do so because the only way to open a closed door is to forget there is a key. At least that’s how it works at the cul-de-sac inside my brain I call ‘creative space’.
And today the door is closed.
And I know it because I can hear it. Yes, I hear it when graphite touches paper. I hear it and I know that the door’s closed.
You see, there’s music in the air and on paper when the door’s open. A swish here and a swish there. They’re all expressions of the past, a reproduction of decisions made seconds ago. An experienced hand will handle the temporal separation with fidelity and resolute organisation. What you hear then is music. It rises and falls, bubbles up and explodes, and stomps with grace at a full stop.
But today, I don’t hear it. What I hear today is graphite choking on paper like a cat choking up a furball. My hand is moving over the paper like a drunk man at 5 a.m. on the subway. There is no fidelity, no organisation. My mind has nothing to say to my hands and I’ve lost all control. I turn the room upside down looking for the key. I must get out. If I don’t, I will kill me.
It is in this quiet desperation on a Monday evening that I find myself in the company of a perfect sheet of paper. It is offering me a way out. A way to convince myself that there is no key. A cheat code that will connect me to reality and unlock potential. So I cave in.
I frame the blank sheet of paper and I hang it on the wall.
I tell others I did it because art should never make us blind, even to paper.
This piece is part of a series called ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’, where I talk about weird concepts and ideas that I have. In this short piece, I intend to highlight how art lies in the reason why you do something and not just in what you do. I also believe that we sometimes experience creative blocks because we forget this. The fact that I can get away with calling a sheet of paper art has to be good enough evidence. I didn’t even make it. I just came up with a reason to call it art and identified the reason as art in itself. You can too.
P.S. The 4D family is growing fast 🙂 If you like what you read, do share it and consider following the blog. We’re all friends here. Remember to always have a blast just existing. God bless!
I’m an Indian kid doing his undergraduate course in English Literature. Most people don’t know this but in India, the number of kids trying to get into Medicine and Engineering is insanely high. The competition is so high, there are literally lakhs of unemployed engineers. It is in the midst of all this that I decided to study English. When I tell people that I am studying English at college, they are mostly extremely unimpressed. And I can’t blame them, IITs and Medical Colleges rule India. I mean it does hurt sometimes. I mean, I did get into one of the best universities in India and I love what I do. I love it so much that I would rather be at college than enjoy a holiday. I would never be at such a great place in life if I had done what everyone else was doing. A lot of people go through life doing what they don’t love. Instead of their work life nourishing their personal life, it sabotages it.
A few days ago, I made a small track and wrote a small poem (though it’s not a proper poem) to articulate how hard it is to go out and ‘do your own thing’. I hope you enjoy it.
Th track is called ‘Leg-Shoe’ and I’ll share the Instagram link to the track here. You can also listen to it at my YouTube channel at Stef Guitar Geek but there’s something wrong with audio at some parts.
Here’s the poem. I don’t have a title yet. So feel free to suggest one. 🙂
I feel burnt out. Utterly inexistent
My legs have grown out
of the shoes that i have come to love
I find myself
locked into a room full of old worn out shoes
And I must choose. For
the world is not for a man with no shoes.
But I can’t. They
stink and they are revolting to the eye.
They are torn,
bleeding leather, but they are warm
They are warm because
they are worn.
Everyone wears them.
They wear ’em till they die.
Some never even take
They go to bed in
them. They bathe in them, some even make love while still in them
They are definitely
not for me. My toes want to feel a virgin pair.
So they can in time
rest in a pair of their own.
A pair that has formed
into the shape of my feet.
Not in worn out shoes
they can’t even feel.
But I am locked in.
The keys do not even exist.
I do not know how to
pick a lock that isn’t there.
So I examine the worn
They are introduced in
pairs, yet were undeniably incongruous.
But I persist. I put
aside my pernicious eyes of judgement and peek into the intricacies of creation
I see where the needle
cut into the leather. I look at the lines and curves.
I search for marks
made by time but seldom come across one
But I come across in
plenty , marks made by man.
Marks made in his
haste to conquer, but sometimes because he lacked succour.
For years I’ve been
dragging my shoeless feet, leading my eyes onto more worn out footwear.
My mission is to make my own worn out pair, a pair that Iooks like my feet.
I pick up the pieces
of leather falling off the shelves, I bring them together with the threads that
I sew them over my
feet. Sometimes, I feel a prick or two but never in the same place.
Like the men with the worn out shoes whose toes feel pain again and again.
I really hope this inspires you and encourages you to go out there and do what you love to do. God has a plan for all of us. So be brave!