Over a canvas…

Scene: Art Gallery

Conversation between Vipul and Yaman:

“Don’t you find it voluptuous?” asked Vipul still unable to take his eyes off the painting, or off the bare bosoms of whosoever might have been the sitter, for the painting was both too vivacious to be fictitious and too tempting to be ignored. “I am no connoisseur when it comes to the art of painting, but aren’t good painters lucky?” he added.

“What? Not at all. I mean enticing, yes, the painting had me at once, but voluptuous, not much so. And as far as luck is concerned I reserve all my views about it for the living ones I envy. Art, of any form, is too sacred for me to be envied, and all artists reverential.” came back the reply from Yaman in a way almost as non-condescending as his demeanor.

Oh! you are so orthodox at times and philosophical, makes me feel I am standing beside my granddad with the only difference that I can stare at those breasts for longer and more comfortably when with you. I love your company, but you know you are a bore.

No, please do not mistake me for what I just said, all I meant was that there’s so much more to this painting than just the perfectly shaped breasts and the beautiful thighs. There’s something I think I am missing here. I am looking at it with an undivided attention, been doing the same for over an hour now, and yet fail to comprehend the depiction. It is like those few other arcane things that seemed charismatic to me the moment I saw them, and still intrigue me.

Oh! I am glad that you noticed those breasts. Believe me, as much as I try to take my gaze away I am lured back by those. It’s not just about the rotundity, or the sensuality that it evokes. It’s just that I have never been tempted by any painting before. Makes me want to buy this one and keep it by my bed. And also, I get so scared for you at times, Yaman, you talk all gibberish at times, move on to the next painting.

Yaman chuckled, “scared for me? Oh, rest assured, I notice everything. It’s just that I have never observed nudity in such a stillness, or should I say I have never let nudity stare back at me with such a calmness. And while we are at it let me tell you that the kind of nudity capable of doing that to me are the ones in books or paintings. The other portrayal of it, that is to say in movies, is just too fast paced to convey its essence, or it might be just me who fail to grasp it. Everything moves so fast and no one seems to care. Anyway, here it’s not me who is staring at the portrait rather the sitter who is staring back at me. I feel important and anything else doesn’t seem to matter. Certain things, just like certain people, capable of making you feel important are closer to you than the ones that intrigue you.”

Nudity in what…? Man, the only thing I care for in any nudity is the voluptuousness it possesses. If it’s capable of making me feel that the world is still a sexy place, the nudity and I are good. Sometimes I feel that you read just too much for a guy of our age. Your intellectual deductions reduce the pleasure in things, and here it is trying to reduce the sensuality the painter portrayed in his piece, I feel sorry for you but I can’t let you reduce the amount of elation I am feeling.

I can’t help but laugh at your naiveté, Vipul. Of course, nudity must be provoking – it usually is. Wouldn’t a non-provocative nudity tantamount to the kind of thirst unquenchable despite drinking gallons of water. Anyway, this is different. I mean, with this painting it is more like I am just as thirsty as I was and now that the water is here in front of me I fail to recognize it. Something soothing and discomforting simultaneously. It’s an artist’s accomplishment if he can manage to do so.

You are too serious for a man of our age and too arcane for me to comprehend, Yaman. It’s a nude and that’s all I know. My only suggestion to you is that you savor it all for the night. And while you are at it you won’t want to miss that exquisite bellybutton now, would you? Haven’t seen anything so mesmerizing. Boy! This painter must be one living genius. But I must agree that this painting does have a charm besides being exotic.

A man potent of imagining things seldom needs to remember the details, my friend. I don’t think I need to savor anything for the night, what I am indeed afraid is that I might have already taken enough of this painting that it’ll haunt me for days.

“Before you kill everything that this painting has succeeded in kindling in me, I’ll leave you here, and will have a cursory glance at the other paintings. God only knows what else might be there. Ring me up once you are done with your babe”, and without waiting for Yaman to reply Vipul made his way to the other paintings.

After about an hour both of them left the art gallery and headed for the cafeteria. Having munched down the lunch, Vipul asked Yaman to drop him to a friend’s home. Yaman, having done as he was asked to, drove his way to home. Having all of the Saturday to himself, he picked up an unfinished book and began reading it. It took him twenty minutes and two yawns to realize that he should get some rest. He placed the book on his table and closed his eyes. He lied down for around half an hour but sleep eluded him. He then picked up his diary and saw the date on which the last entry was made. And so, exactly three months and three days later the previous entry, he jotted down the following in his beloved diary.

It was not the nudity of the girl, but the nakedness of the painter that created such a lasting impact. The painter must have painted his heart out, if there’s any such thing. I am no painter, and so my deduction is solely based on the way I write things or try to do so. The painting, as is the case with every other original creation, was as much the portrait of the painter himself as of the protagonist. The painter was vigil in his portrayal, and the more I think of it the more I find myself falling in love with it, for falling in love is easy and the only thing to do when you can’t understand things. The room in the painting was unadorned and with minimal furniture. The dressing table was large but with almost imperceptible amount of makeup accessories. Although the painting was not about the room, but the same couldn’t have been ignored, for now as I try to recall, very vividly do I see that the girl wore absolutely no or little makeup, or so the exactitude in the shade of her bare hands, neck and the face seemed to suggest. So she must be enjoying a holiday all by herself, or she must have returned from somewhere, but her eyes sparkled and her body glowed, exhibiting the exuberance that one feels only at the expectation of one’s beloved, and so she must have been just out of the bathroom expecting someone to be home soon, a lover maybe or a very dear friend. But, why was she halfway through her clothes, I mean it was a gown or a one piece and she was putting it on from her bottom but why would she stop midway, letting half the dress mop the floor. Had it ever been the case with me, he thought, have I ever stopped dressing halfway. It was amidst these thoughts that it struck him. The book in her hand. Of course, the book. How silly of me to ignore the book. Could it be that she was too engrossed in the book, or that she failed to recall some important details while bathing, and just like when you forget a few lines from a song, you try your best to figure it out by either beginning all over again, or by heading straight to your desktop and googling the lyrics; she must have headed straight to the book dressing herself in just sufficient amount of clothing that would have enabled her to be presentable quick enough just in case someone knocked on the door. A misplaced detail from a book and the forgotten lyrics of a song irks one until they are remedied. The book was a hardbound edition and was held upside down as if the sitter might have been asked to do so in a haste and she failed to pay heed. It was not a photograph but a painting I was looking at, and so it couldn’t possibly be merely a matter of haste or accidental. Everything in a painting is deliberate even the dot that you think is totally out of place connects if you try to enter the minds of both the painter and the sitter.

He dated the entry, and returned the diary to its resting place.

But what could an inverted book, on the face of earth, possibly mean? It was too late to ponder over it. Beauty dies where intellect begins, and so he decided that he would let the mystery of the inverted book be so. He thought of Vipul and his outlook towards life. He was thankful for having someone like Vipul as a friend.

God, the painters can be tricky. A painter should always be near his/her painting to explain such details to small brains like me. It was again art that won, as always, and he slept peacefully all night.

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