I remember when in school, I was in the football team of the Tulip house. Ours was not particularly the strongest in the school. Students were divided into houses and Lotus were always the defending champions. It so happened that we were pitted against them in the semis after a gruelling first round. Tired of pulling off an underdog win in the first round, we were exhausted. They had an all attacking line up while we just defended. We were 2-0 down in the first half itself. It so happened that we got a goal from a very steep angle and that pumped us up. Soon we were at par as the momentum shifted to our side. By the end as the scores were still level, the match went to penalties. I remember everyone praying. I never had faith so just looked up in the sky while the players got ready. We lost 3-0 on penalties. I was sad, but not as much as the people who took the penalties. It is rather uncanny to see guys cry. Especially for me it had always been difficult to relate to such emotions. It was then I that I regretted the unusual in me. I soon realised that the precedence of any high is never the same amount of drug. For me, it was just higher.
Being a personality who had always been close to art one way or the other, I had a fair idea how to sell. I never intended to keep the painting. I never had a single one at my house. I only kept posters. Somehow keeping someone’s passion on my wall meant an invasion of my privacy. There comes a person in everybody’s life, for whom we are ready to refute self-respect. We hide it under the parasol of love, it is pathetic, but glorified so much in the delusion that it actually satisfies a lot of emotions. Now the question is not about practicality but about how life should be lived. I would not denigrate it to call ‘logic’ but should life be about sane straightness of thoughts or should passionate foolishness that glorifies sadism also be considered? The beautiful thing about an artist is that on the very rare occasions, love need not be with life, but with a drive to give life to your delusion.
I orchestrated an exhibition. Connoisseurs from the area had come. It had a spring theme and being a Shelly fan, hers was the first piece on display, with the same quote. Every piece a more beautiful scenery. The genius in art is how you present it. Why do people come back to the solitary, the dark when nature itself is your companion? Why choose the lady sipping her drink alone and probably wants it that way? There is always a romance in such hypocrisy.
It was a big hit. It sold for a thousand pounds as compared to the combined eight hundred and seventeen pounds of the rest ten combined. Soon the artist’s identity became the question of the hour. It wasn’t to be revealed, at least not yet.
Over the next few months I took random pieces from the tree house. I knew she’d know, but then I didn’t think she’d mind enough to stop. It did offer her greater relief. Exhibitions, with different themes, but always the same result. There was a buzz now. It was now time. In the final exhibition, I told everyone a story. About how an artist found a place of solace where her passion could ooze; the escape from the moribund. No one cares if there’s a tinge of hatred in a world of love, but a put a little love in a world of hatred, and people give their hearts to it. You see people aren’t much different than me. Their emotions too are governed by relativity. If you say you love someone, you’d be treated with numb oblivion; say you never felt that way before and a princess they become. As I said before, love in rare cases can be with inanimate. And the princess was a woman- The Dark Queen.
I went to meet her that day.
“I see someone has taken a liking towards these fortnightly escapades.”
“What can I do? People keep on stealing my art.” She said with a smile.
“I am an ardent collector! Have you ever thought of having an exhibition? You do paint well.”
“I think I might, after I am convinced that I should. I still need to improve. In addition to that I am not sure I want these shared.”
“Every piece of art is meant for certain pairs of eyes. The irony however is the need to always know what you want; the paradox however is that when you do realise it, it is too impossible to hold on to it. (She stared while I paused) I never hang paintings on my wall. I sold them off in exhibitions. They love you. They call you the Dark Queen. I told them your story.”
“Why would you do that? It should always have been my prerogative. I don’t have a story.
I got up to leave, “I thought you needed it.”
The next day morning, people started flocking in to greet the queen beside the lake. It was too late and too rude for her to leave. She greeted, she explained and even managed a smile while at it. All she could see, was that there were no houses still, but people; tarnishing her idealism. Humans are not defined by societal sophistication but by their crudeness in grave circumstances.
I knew she cried after they left. She knew it ended. She had burnt the entire house by the time the night ended. She planned to go back to her stability, her life, her practical life. Perhaps she’d paint again, perhaps she’ll come back, or maybe she just didn’t love it enough. The love for art is so delicate that I wryly laugh and ponder how it demands so much moribundity.
I don’t know people I don’t feel pain, I don’t know emotions; but I know faces. I can tell what they might feel. So I create the strongest emotion I know is coherent. Perpetuating a dream long enough that it becomes a part of you, and at the very peak, the very beginning of achievement… Bring it down. It makes me feel.