My Muse

I painted my Muse. Now I have to destroy it!

I cannot fathom the unruly hour which made me do this hideous act. I should have been incapacitated the very second this unworthy thought struck my mind. But my capriciousness led me to it.

Fifteen years ago, I left him intentionally at the Art Gallery. He was watching Van Gogh’s Starry Night with an air of wistfulness. And I slowly traced my way outside the Gallery and into the cold street. When I had distanced myself from god knows what, I stopped and turned around. I saw him walking the street, eyes searching every other stranger’s face, and then suddenly resting on mine. The desperation of his eyes settled into a calm merriness. He ran towards me, touched my face, pressed my shoulders, and looked at me from head to toe. Finally, when he was sure what he beheld was his brother, he surrounded his profligate arms around my weary heart just like a wreath and then smiled foolishly.

Then suddenly, using his face to express his lack of speech he showed “Why did you leave me alone? Don’t you love me? Do you hate me?”

That face, the expression, the eyes which were still in a state of pensive did something to me. I felt myself feeling weak and all the glories I had gained as a painter seemed worthless. I realised, I knew nothing and I had to start all over again. I wondered how just a gaze could unclothe my emotions so easily. I had never felt so defenseless in my life. From that very moment, he became my Muse.

I picked up my pen and settled down at my desk. I had to write him an apology, I wanted him to know how much he means to me. And I did not intend to hurt him this time in any way.

Dear John

Are you listening?

I see in you, the memories of being young

Like a fireproof warehouse storing innocence.

I see in you, the sunset marked skyline

Creating a boundary of ending,

And also a reminiscence of a beginning;

Are you listening?

Your presence took me

And brittled me down into something beautiful.

Your existence for me is beyond physicality

That I don’t have to remember you because I’ll never forget you;

Are you listening?

You are the streetlight that flickers across my street,

And also the lighthouse of my ocean

I don’t see rainbows anymore

But when I see you

I end up looking at the sky

And always find a rainbow thick shimmer;

Are you listening?

You are that longing for an unknown place

Like a boat sailing me through a strange land

Making the destination, a home!

How many such homes have you built me?

Are you even listening?

You never asked me what is it that I feel

But I think you know

Sometimes it’s

Like waiting to be burnt

Like choosing the same book, again and again, not wanting to discover something new

Like dead lilies on a driveway

Waiting to be picked up by a kid and kept in a book.

Just when I finished writing I knew what I had to do, to amend this situation. I asked my dear friend Mathew to bring back the painting from the exhibition as early as he can.

After a while, I heard a knock. I opened the door, Mathew stood there with the painting. He gave me a bewildered look.

“Why on earth did you send this to an exhibition if you didn’t want to show it to the world?” he asked.

“It was a mistake, a horrible mistake,” I said.

“I don’t understand why it’s a mistake”

“Don’t you understand, he is my muse!”

“So what he is your muse?” he asked, shrugging his shoulders. “How does it change anything?”

“Just give me the painting,” I said, impatiently.

And Matthew came inside and sat at my desk.

“You wrote him a letter?” he asked, trying to suppress his astonishment.

“Yes indeed, I wanted him to know”

“What is wrong with you, HE IS DEAD!” he said, looking uneasily at me.

I picked up a wet cloth and rubbed it on the painting, till it was destroyed.

“Not anymore” I replied.

“He has been dead for five years now. What madness has taken over you?” He asked, looking at the now destroyed painting.

“I can always feel his presence. I cannot preserve him in a physical state, it would imply that I need something beyond my heart to store him. I ought to leave him alone, he is too pure to be contained” I replied, with a heavy sigh.

“Doesn’t that demolish the role of an artist?”

“No, it doesn’t, because I hated every second I spent on this painting”

“Then why didn’t you stop”

“Because I wanted to see the end, I wanted to see how much I remembered him. And when I started drawing I could picture him as he was— the little mole on his forehead, his kind blue eyes, his bushy eyebrows. I could draw everything. But then when I finished, what I saw was a perfect imitation, but what I couldn’t see was reality. It was far removed from reality, that I almost felt as an impersonator. And it was unbearable. I had to destroy the painting to protect him, to protect the raw him.”

“So it is about how you feel, it has nothing to do with doing him justice!” he asked.

“No, it’s only about him. Don’t you understand? He is my muse. He exists, that’s why I can create art. I cannot make him an art by painting him, he is already one.”

I went inside, after offering Mathew my deepest gratitude for bringing the painting back. Then I sat down on my hard bed and slowly closed my eyes. Splinters of imagination started forming a perfect deportment inside my head. My muse was back, and I knew I had to start painting.

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