It was a sunny day. October heat was picking up and people were sweating profusely. Amongst the bustling scene at Nehru Street, Meera sat in her front porch engrossed, painting on her canvas. Her hand moved swiftly from side to side taking occasional dips in paint. Meera put strokes of violet, mixed up two poster colors on her palette to make a matte mustard yellow and plunged her brush in it, ever so slightly. She made a stunning gradient from the violet and mustard yellow, which sounds curious but looked magnificent. She was so focused that she did not even notice the kettle screaming in the kitchen. As soon as she heard the screeching whistle, Meera dashed into the kitchen and switched off the stove. She took some steel cups, filled them up till the brim with aromatic tea and grabbed a few biscuits. She came back to the porch to resume painting on the canvas. Her thick black hair fell on her brown eyes and she brushed it aside getting some red paint on her forehead. All the people walking on the road stared at her in awe as she was covered in a ton of paint! But nothing distracted her, neither the twittering of birds nor the tingling bells of the ice cream truck, she was serene and deeply immersed in her painting.
Meera’s painting was coming closer to closure when the sun reached its uppermost position. At half past 1, she put her brush done and finally exhaled! She lifted the painting high up in the air and grinned so broad. Her eyes swelled up with tears of joy and her eyes sparkled with pride! The painting was the product of weeks and weeks of hard work; it was her joy. She loved it more than anything in the world. After examining the canvas for any tiny mistakes and strokes, she took it inside her house to let it dry.
She washed her face with cool water, finally removing all the paint stains and she glowed: not only from the soap but also with the joy of finishing a task after long time! After drying herself, she sat on her bed, but fell asleep immediately.
The clock struck 3. The sky became cloudy and cold. Nature seemed to be settling down after a gruesome afternoon; that is when Meera woke up. She seemed half asleep. Her hair all messed up and her eyes burning red. But when she looked at the clock, she had a tiny panic attack.
“Oh no! I am late!!!!” she exclaimed as she was trying to dress herself as quick as possible.
Combing her hair, applying some makeup, and dusting her clothes- it seemed as if she was in a rift with herself. She became ready and finally calmed down. Meera walked into her living and took her painting, it was dry now and looked phenomenal!! She smiled and told a small prayer before she put it in her bag. She thrusted some papers and took some stationary, then she also took an apple to eat. Armed with all her things, she walked out of her house with delight.
Meera strolled through the wide roads of Nehru Street, even though she was in a hurry. She wanted to experience the scenery around her and find some artistic inspiration. One could hear Meera mumbling positive vibes to herself and breathing deeply. It seemed as if what she was doing right now was going to be particularly important for her. At least now she witnessed all the birds, bugs and flowers greeting her.
Mrs. Saxena, the old lady who lived in a huge mansion next to Meera’s house saw her.
“MEERA!!! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” she screamed in a shrill voice. It was her aim to poke her long nose into everyone’s lives.
Meera, who was about to cross the main road, turned back and came to Mrs. Saxena. She touched her feet (for good luck) and spoke in an ecstatic voice.
“Aunty, I am going to Art Gallery on AVL Road. They are offering scholarships and hefty amount of money for amateur artists. I am hoping to get my painting reviewed and receive the Budding Artist Scholarship, which might help me get into an art school!”
Mrs. Saxena smile, she put her hand in Meera’s bag and saw the painting.
“Beautiful.” She whispered.
Her words did not describe the complete splendor of the painting, however she was now bored and starting walking towards her home.
Both bid adieux.
Meera crossed the main road and reached the bus station. Everyone hustled from place to place looking for their buses. There were many vendors selling bhelpuri, tea, candies, toys etc. She stopped at a vendor and bought a key chain with ‘M’ inscribed on it.
After ten minutes, the bus to AVL Road finally arrived. She sat next to an old lady and gleamed.
“Today is going to be the best day of my life!”
Time flew by. At 4, Meera alighted the bus. The road was baked in smoke. Vehicles covered the roads screaming at each other. In the distance she saw a sign which said AVL Road Art Gallery; she knew that she was not lost.
Walking toward the gallery was not pain, even though smog kept entering her nose. She shielded it with happy thoughts and optimism. Finally, the destination was reached. Meera was excited and screeched with joy. She dashed into the gallery and immediately ran towards the offices.
She sat in a sofa and the receptionist came to her. She handed a form and Meera filled it up. She waited for her turn to meet the officer.
Two minutes later, her name was called. Meera rose, her heart raced and yet she stayed tranquil. Breathing slowly and moving forward- well by millimeters, she opened the door which had MR. AJAY RAO written in bold, on it. A gruff voice was heard.
Meera became meek now; she tiptoed and sat in the chairs in front of Mr. Rao. He did not look or feel pleasant. With a boulder like body, bald head, and a thick moustache, Meera thought that he looked like one of those villains from movies. He slipped his thin glasses to the tip of his fat nose and looked at her, as if he were judging.
Meera came back from her imagination, she introduced herself in croaky words.
“Good evening sir, I am Meera Dhar and I want to apply for the Budding Artist Scholarship.”
She handed her report card and the form which she filled earlier to him and Mr. Rao scanned through them like a hawk. Then Meera gave her marvelous painting.
It was not a typical scenery or a portrait, but exhibited contemporary art. There were many smidges of exotic colors and followed a light color palette. Exquisite paints were brought together, and rough colors made serene. Along with all these expressions, there were two eyes placed far apart from each other and tilted lips were in the center. The organs stared into minds and conveyed the story of Meera’s painting. She called it-
‘DOORS TO THE SOUL’
The painting was truly exceptional, phenomenal, incredible- if I were in Mr. Rao’s place, I would have accepted her immediately- but sadly I was not.
His voice changed after looking at the painting. It was a low scowl.
“Miss Dhar, what do you want to convey in the painting?”
Well, this was strange. She was hoping the eyes and mouth would tell him that, but then she realized it was inanimate. Sweat started dripping from her forehead, she knew what it symbolized but did not know how to explain it with WORDS. Trembling, she tried to form sentences, but it was in vain.
“Sir, it is uhhhhhh… cubism… I am…. fan of Picasso. Doors to the soul, says ummmm…. people are symmetry outside…. But broken… in… side… ummm.”
Her ‘uhhs’ and ‘umms’ made Mr. Rao angry.
“Meera, you are a good painter, but when you are required to explain your painting, you need to be more expressive. I do see some flaws; they can be ignored. But….”
This shook her.
“….. I cannot offer the scholarship to you as you have scored 75% in your college examinations. You need to score above 85% for this. I am sorry. Thank you for coming, you may leave now.”
These sentences were arrows which pierced her heart and tore it into a hundred pieces. All those tiresome days; her painting just gave up all her hope. The scholarship could have helped her get into a good art school easily, having her painting hung at an Art Gallery would have been such a tremendous honor but now… It is all gone. Her aspiration just left her lonely and weary. She recollected what had just happened but did it by bursting into tears. Meera sniffled and controlled the huge pressure she felt; she blocked tears from touching her eyes. She said lowly without crying her eyes out-
“Thank you, sir…” and left.
With the door closing at her feet, she got down her knees and wept. Oceans and oceans of tears fell out and drizzled her clothes. The day could not be retrieved.
At this moment she just wanted to own a time machine- to go back in time and study for all those exams instead of painting murals and helping her neighbors. If she could do that, she would be walking home with a bushel of money and fame of being in the prestigious art gallery. But sadly, that was not the present.
She continued wailing and weeping in silence when the receptionist saw her. She gave Meera a tissue.
“I am sorry dear” she said and walked away.
Meera exited the art gallery.
Being there reminded her about sorrows, failure, stupidity, losing opportunities and all the negativity her mind could generate. At this point, she wanted to go to a place where the world seemed to stop, and everything lay peaceful.
A pond was nearby (it looked more like a puddle though). There was a fence around it. She kept her painting outside the fence and slapped it hard, unleashing all her anger. Then she crossed it and sat near the pond. With some stones in her hand, she tossed them and watched it skim across till the end.
The waters from far looked noticeably clear but instead it was flooded with algae. It reminded her about what her painting signified, and it made her feel more dejected and depressed.
As her mind swelled in grief, she heard footsteps coming from behind her.
“Hello ma’am, do you know whose stupendous painting is this?”
He came inside the fence holding her painting which she discarded.
“Well, it is mine.”
He stood in awe.
“Your art is phenomenal. Let me guess, this painting shows how a person may look alright from outside but inside they are broken.”
“Art like that shouldn’t be abandoned on the streets, it needs to be preserved properly.”
She had no expressions. Meera wanted to say out her troubles but she controlled it.
“Oh, sorry by the way, I am Tom, an art enthusiast.”
“Meera.” She replied.
“I am actually part of an organization called Art4All, we teach art to kids who are underprivileged, and we organize many art events across the city. It would be amazing if you could come by sometime and help us out. We will pay you, but it won’t be much though.”
That was unexpected,
“Talent like yours needs to be shown to the world and used to instill knowledge of art to those who want to learn.” Tom gave her a business card.
“Please think about it.”
He left the scene after returning the painting. Meera was left to her thoughts again.
Okay, she was thrown from one opportunity but that does not mean there will not be more. Now she had the chance to help other kids and bring more opportunities to them. All the negative thoughts vanished and were replaced with sweet positive ones. A smile finally arrived onto her face and she clenched her painting and the business card.
After picking up her stuff, she crossed the fence and stood in front of the gallery and said proudly-
“I will be back.”
She continued her journey back to the bus stop and was in sync with the golden sun setting in the backdrop. A day of learnings and new hope.
Truly all wondrous moments happen at dusk…
This story tells that there isn’t just one way to get what you want. Meera wanted the scholarship but most importantly she wanted to be a true artist and showcase her talent. At the end, she did get what she wanted, but uniquely! 😀
If one door to success closes that doesn’t suggest that another won’t open.
Just like that age old saying:
Where there is a will there is a way
Don’t lose hope. Things are never as bad as they seem😊😊😊😊!!!
I hope that you were inspired by this post and enjoyed reading it! What are your thoughts on this? Any tips to improve my story-writing skills? What made you like or dislike the character of Meera?
Tell me in the comments! 😁
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