The Portrait of Life

On a dark and cold December night that mystified the looming melancholy stretching its wings over the starry blanket, yellow street lights flogging the obscurity and the silenced sounds hovering over the colony away from the hullaballoo of the old city. Leaning on a chaise lounge next to the foggy glass window particular of winter nights, I was trying to gather the thoughts scattered in bits and pieces indulging my brain to work over them. In the meanwhile, the fog on the window became dense and turned into little droplets; a tiny drop over a misty window rolled down, it felt as if it was her quieted tears, distinctive yet unseen just like the divide between felt and un-felt by the same spectator from different wave-lengths, rolling down her face, forming silver, no, not silver streaks, but, they were streaks, crystal streaks on her face emerging from her eyes and stretching to her jawline. After passing through her pale yet golden cheeks, the streaks appeared to be absorbed in her warm traditional pashmina shawl with its variegated embroidered border, wrapped around her. As soon as the tears immersed in her shawl, the crystal streaks were gone too…

She was pretty good at fixing the streaks with toning, neutralizing the shady patches, hiding the dark circles along with the stretch marks of life; just in moments, the moments when the sun sets, so did the reflectivity of streaks… Over the years, she became so used to it that it stopped bothering her, but, the crystal streaks, with the passage of time, crystalized her vision, as clear as the water of Dudipatsar in summer that reflects like a mirror…

“Would you mind telling me, what did you find in my face?”

Beholding the sight deeply submerged in my own thoughts, I completely forgot that I was involved in an indecent activity of bothering her with my eyes. And that was something I had been doing for years without being ashamed, as it never felt immoral to me. I noticed the movement of her lips articulating words, addressing me, followed by a fine stretch protruding her cheekbone. At that moment, involuntarily, I quickly tried to capture her eyes as if they might accompany her fine stretch of lips. Her words made me a little conscious, but not embarrassed, and, I was, at that moment, unable to figure out what exactly intrigued me to do that…

“Streaks of Life,” I heard my own utterance. “I mean…” In an instant, I tried to overcome the expression, verbal expression, no matter how accurate it was, but…

“It’s alright young wit, you’re excused,” she chuckled and said, “you know, I was already expecting something like that from you, a sort of description; loud yet subdued, just like the way a painter depicts life through a portrait, spectacular yet discreet or an extended metaphor… anyways, when would you make the portrait?” She suddenly seemed to be taking interest as if she herself wanted to re-discover or gather the scattered perspectives or the images of life…

“Soon,” I replied, “but a few things are yet to be figured out…”

“Yet to be figured out?” she asked with great surprise, curtly cutting me out straight. “Didn’t you get the streaks figured out yet?” she added.

And yes, she knew what I had been looking for for years…

“You know, my dear,” folding the knitted wrap in autumn colors and putting it in her yarn basket on top of leftover yarn cake, she took a deep breath, readjusted her posture on a wooden bench, looked at me for a while and mumbled, “it’s always about time; time matters, never try to rush things, let them happen at their own pace…”

She gazed at something over the horizon. The Sun was about to set after revealing all the earth’s colors, so did she, revealing life’s colors behind the streaks…

We used to meet… “Well, I don’t know if ‘meet’ would be the right word to use as we never exactly ‘met’ before.” We both had a common hobby of seeing the rising Sun and sunset daily, which brought us both to the central park of the colony.

“What about the streaks, they appeared to be so loud, they must have echoes buried under the thick-fine make-over, the natural makeover; to compose one’s self no matter what or who’s in front, you contoured the streaks so well that you get yourself tuned by them, isn’t it?” And the words got the way out of my mouth. Simple!

A muscle in her jaw twitched, her lower lip trembled and a lopsided grin appeared slightly followed by a soft yet firm voice, “I had the best days, yet they had the worst moments. I had the most joyful times, yet they had the tiresome span of time. I had seen all kinds of roses but none of them were without thorns. I had the loudest laughs still I couldn’t forget my faintest smiles. If my eyes were flooded over an unexpected blessing, my eyes also had tears in pain over the years. With every streak something died inside me, however, every streak also produced a new me, the Me constantly adjusting…” She smoothed down her shawl, took a deep breath, rose from her seat, held her yarn basket and inched forward…

Post-script:

Sitting on a chaise longue near the foggy glass window, spreading the canvas in front of me, I’m trying to handle colors with thoughtfulness. If I apply too much of them equally, it would result in a muddy portrait. The blending and shading of colors, keeping the individuality of each color intact, depends on the way I use colors on the portrait. At times, I apply strokes of colors one after the former, other times I have to wait till it dries out. And I wonder if the same goes for the portrait of Life that has all shades of all colors; at some places they appear sharp, at others they become blurred, some of them remain bright, a few turn out dull and others come to be light yet they look well-incorporated on the portrait of Life depicting varied outlooks, the streaks, curves, stretches, texture and scribbles bear the individual traits upholding personality. Portraying reality. Residing somewhere in illusions.

Among all the illusions, Life is paradoxical; existence has become logical and living, implausible…

And it’s raining outside or the night’s shedding tears. It’s post-midnight or the darkest hour before the dawn, at times, the divide of the present, past and future becomes so revealing that it reflects one’s own reflection, the one with the streaks of life, despite the façade.

 

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Featured Image by Jade Stephens