The Paintbrush - Part 2
by Geetashree Chatterjee
The Lost Brush
Back to Part 1
Thereafter ensued a spate of conspiracy. Every morning at a fixed hour I'd hold the brush on the drawing book and wish forms, figures, landscapes, Nature's Gifts, vivid and varied flora and fauna and they'd all come alive on the pristine pages with the swish of the wand - perfection personified in line, content, texture, hue, interplay of light and shadow - they were just remarkably true to life, nay, they were as though live, captured in the pages of my drawing book. Endless hours I would spend gazing at them with awestruck eyes savouring their vibrant beauty and magical imagery!
But I had still not shown the paintings to anyone fearful that magic made public might rob the quill of its power. But the temptation was too strong. The greed for applause too overpowering! So, I decided to give a final try to bring to life something which was supposed to be the most difficult task even for an accomplished artiste. I selected one of my late father's photographs and prayed hard. This time I'd give it a try myself and see how far the brush would help me.
I held the brush in my fingers and drew the lines..'stilted as ever' not in sync or symmetry with each other' the portray was a massacre. I burst out sobbing on the drawing book blotching the lines already gone awry. A little while later, composing myself, I left the room in a fit of sulk.
That night I saw him in my dreams as he would always appear in my mind's eye - a fragile, forlorn figure in a mouse brown Kashmiri 'loyee' (Gent's shawl), bespectacled, grave and a little sad. But this time there was a slight difference. He looked pained, deeply disturbed. His lips moved and the sonorous voice came floating from far, far away, 'Why do you call me now?'
'Father! I am so lonely, father!' I whimpered.
'But I can't come, child!, He said, pain etched in his tone, 'I am far away than you can possibly imagine. It is impossible for me to return. It is painful to travel such long distances.' His words were almost a whisper now.
'But father, father?' I raised my arms to call him back. His form was becoming nebulous,
receding gradually into a mist which rose from the depths of a valley whose contours were very quickly getting lost in the wilderness. I wanted to clutch the flailing end of his wrapper. But before I could do so he melted into infinity.
Next morning I woke up with a head ache. Finishing my day's chores in a daze I entered my study. The drawing book lay askew but the brush was gone. I shuffled the pages of the book, they were empty. Gone were the picturesque images too and the papyrus lay bare as it had been for a very long, long time.
Needless to say, I brought the whole house down in a panicked and frantic searching spree but the brush was nowhere to be found. Even the intricately carved box holding the brush had vanished into thin air leaving behind only wisps of fond imagery and remembrances as ephemeral as time.
My nephew rang up, 'So how is your painting sessions going?' He asked affably.
'They have stopped,' I blurted, 'I have lost the brush.'
'How?' He asked crestfallen.
'I don't know. One minute it was there. The next minute it was gone!' I couldn't hide the ring of sadness from my tone though I tried hard.
There was a lot of disturbances on the line.
'Now I can't even get you another one,' said my nephew. 'The shop has closed down too.'
Somehow I expected this.
'Where did you locate the shop?' I asked.
'Just off MG Road.' He replied with a strange note in his voice. 'It was owned by a Chinese. Queer! When I went there the next time it was not there as though it were never there ever before. I asked Mannu Uncle (a resident of Bangalore from infancy) about the location. He said he had never heard of the shop either!
'What attracted you to the shop?' I tried to sound casual.
'The name.' His voice sounded distant. The whirring noise on the line had increased.
'Of course it was in Chinese but the shop owner translated it for me.'
'And what was that..?', I held my breath.
'Something very funny 'something like the dreams that never come true.' The line went dead.
I sighed and kept back the receiver in its cradle. The End