Dear Darling Friends,
This happened over 15 years ago.
Paintings really confused me. That which looks pretty to me, is petty to the expert. That which looks ugly to me, the expert says is beautiful. That which looks confusing to me, the expert says is so expressive and clear.
One day I got hold of my friend Shazeen who loves to paint and asked her, “How to understand a painting? How do I know if the painting is good or not?”
For a few moments I saw uncertainty on her face. Was it because of my question or was it because she was attempting to frame the right answer? The look she had must have been the look I had when my daughter asked me today morning, “At the end of Ganpati festival, why do we put Ganpati inside water. Should we drown poor Ganpati?”
The question was very genuine. Keeping in mind, the maturity of the seven-year-old child, how to give a credible answer?
Right now, Shazeen must be having the same predicament. Understanding my limited maturity about paintings she said, “To understand the painting you must be able to feel what the painter must have felt. If the painting invokes feelings inside you, if you WANT that feeling inside you, then, it is the ‘right’ painting for you. Otherwise it is not the ‘right’ one for you.”
She had my attention and she knew it. ‘WOW! I said to myself. This is very interesting. She continued, “A masterpiece is one where stroke by stroke, the painter has expressed his feeling and that feeling is understood by people. Sometimes there are cute little strokes but even the little strokes are confident. Sometimes there are large strokes and they are confident. Sometimes the strokes show self-doubts, sometimes they show elation. Is this what the painter wanted us to feel? If yes and if we could feel what he wanted us to feel, then, it is a ‘masterpiece’”.
I was certainly impressed.
That night as I was ruminating on the events of the day, my son Neeraj was sleeping next to me and I was stroking his hair. I felt like a painter in those moments. He looked like ‘the masterpiece’ we wanted to create. (joint painting…Ha ha ha)
When the world stands in front of him, what emotion do I want them to feel? Love? Peace? Excitement? Surrender? Devotion?
I had never thought like this on parenting. It created little unrest, some confusion and a need for more clarity.
What was clear was, stroke by stroke over a period of time, this masterpiece has to be created. This masterpiece should impact the lives of people positively.
Some careless strokes may mar the painting forever, while some may provide scope for correction in the future. A small part may involve a lot of time, certain parts may need lots of attention, large parts may be easy, and some spaces may need help. Most importantly this painting will be my expression of intelligence and ‘my feelings’.
A black in that space will not mean the painting is a disgrace; lots of white will not mean it is pure. It is the way the colors will be mixed and presented that will make all the difference.
My child is going to have so many colors in different combinations, in different places and different ways. I as a parent will help him to understand, express, explore, accept and create the masterpiece.
Time will come when his hands are steadier than mine, his vision for the painting (himself) is clearer than mine. It will be time for me to hand over the brush to him.
At that time if I can feel what I wanted the world to feel when I began the painting, then I have been a successful painter, a successful parent. If my life too was a painting, and if that painting had eyes, a drop of tear expressing gratitude would have rolled down. Happily, the eyes would be ready to close forever.
With love, prayers and exceptional wishes,
Imagine, when we wake up, we are given only what we had thanked for.
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