"Hey, did you see my paint brush?, I couldn’t find where I usually keep it”.
Mr. George came limping to me and asked.
I replied,” Your brush…!! Nope, who else will take your stuff, but you...”
Mr. George murmured… “Hmm… Then it might be Bashir, he might have taken it to poke his ear; I had caught him red-handed once. If it is him again, I’m not going to give the consideration that he’s a nutcase. ... I will crack his head open”, and limped back, murmuring something.
Mr. George, he was the first person I met, when I had reached this place. An exemplary artist, a magician, who etches the essence of life on canvas.
The day I came here he was composing a new drawing.
Pointing to an incomplete drawing, he asked, “Can you tell me what this is about?” which was when we hadn't even know each other's names.
Being a complete philistine when it comes to paintings, he expects me to tell him what it is.
The anguish of arriving in a new environment was freaking me a bit. I felt a kind of anger much beyond the anxiety that I initially had.
Mr. George said "Just give a try"
The man who spoke to me for the first time when I came here, the man I might be with, going forward, why I should pick up a fight in the first place, I told myself.
Filled with anger and frustration, I made a futile attempt to move into the picture. I tried to induce the idea that I had thought of something, and I said, "Hmmm…, a deer drinking water from a lake and … a tiger waiting to attack it from a distance."
Mr. George looked at me and gave a bland smile, the unrecognizable laughter of whether I hit the spot or failed miserably without even getting close.
I thought for myself Mr. George, You're a damn good actor too.
He left anxiety in its own way and returned to his canvas and I turned to explore the alien environment.
Like I said, the unfamiliarity about the place bothered me a little bit. And I have my own reasons for that.
On the very first day I arrived here, the first thing that caught my attention was a man with scars all over his body. Even his face was disfigured by a deep wound. I have never seen anyone like this before.
I walked forward out of the daze of that sight.
I could see a few kids playing there. Not everyone is of the same age.
I happen to notice some physical disfigurations in some of them as well - people with large tumors in the abdomen, blind eyes, and heads larger than the body.
Suddenly my eyes caught another child in a way that shook my mind.
A ten-year-old boy, half of his face was shattered as if something heavy had struck him.
“What the hell, all I see are painful scenes...Why is it like this?"
Scenes did not end there. People of all ages were there. But those with bruised bodies, blue-skinned people, those dehydrated without food and water, and some only with a mass of flesh grabbed my attention, even though there were many others among them who seem pretty normal.
As I was trying to escape from these tiring scenes, I got stuck with a crippled guy, Mr. George who in fact pulled me out of the obscurity. I was with him for the next month and a half; or rather I believe, he kept me by his side. Maybe his early days here were as miserable as mine, and he might have seen himself in me.
Mr. George talked to me about many things since the time he came here. During the conversation, I asked about the people here, and in-fact; my curiosity to know about them was much more.
However, he did not bother to tell me who they were or why they were like this. Instead, he asked me a question: "Can you see sadness in anyone's eyes?"
Perhaps, I might not have noticed it, or too prejudiced to think that they are too depressed. I can say that my later days were to find grief and suffering among the people with various problems, disabilities, perfect health, old people, and so on. But I did not find any grief in anyone. Everyone is happy.
They neither worried about their past nor about their future…, they lived in their present. The joyous beauty could be seen even on ugly faces. There were those who shared happiness with each other, there was lovers, there were those who killed time together. Each of them enjoyed every moment.
I realized that their lives were not as rough as they looked.
In that sense, there is only one ugliness one disability, and I am that one.
My intense desire to be one of them also drew me closer to them.
I started making friends with them and gradually started to be one among them.
Mr. George didn’t say anything about the history of the people, and no one bothered to ask each other about it. To be honest, he never even asked anything about me.
After about two weeks since I came here, Mr. George asked me about his picture again, which is almost sixty percent complete now?
As soon as I saw it, I described without much thought, "A beautiful woman sitting on the shore of the lake waiting for her love. She is looking at her own beauty in the water of the lake to kill the boredom of waiting. In the distance, her lover is gazing at her."
He replied with a sly smile which meant that I might have almost got it right.
By now I’ve started to feel that I almost belong to this place. I totally got along with this environment… Or ... in essence, my surroundings might have changed to accommodate me…, who knows. I have been here for over two months.
Everyone in life is a traveller, travelling to different paths each day. At the end of each day, one could say, "I have travelled till today, or I’m still being alive... or today also I've survived without dying.’ But, some tread back in their life or are being dead every day. In the book of time, these days will be written in the pages reserved for us.
As I untied the noose of thoughts, my eyes came to the most beautiful sight of what I could note down today in my memory.
A young woman braids her daughter’s hair, sitting by a window. The girl is about four-year-old. The woman doesn’t seem she is old enough to be the mother of the baby, but I guessed it might be, as they looked similar.
When her mother's hair fell onto her wide eyes, in the wind, she set it aside with one hand. At that moment, I thought she would see what I was looking at. Her oily black colour makes those eyes glow. I'm not going to get tired of seeing this scene all day today.
"Did you see my brush?"
My thoughts on the beauty came to a halt like being stopped by a sudden red signal. It’s Mr. George, he is out to look for his missing brush, and after putting up that question, he went looking for Bashir. My eyes went back to that window.
Gone… They are gone from there. I had this urge of anger to kill Mr. George. It doesn't matter though; I've got someone to stalk from now on.
Wasn't she the beauty you saw in Mr. George’s painting?
That or even, my heart was telling my mind that I could be so misunderstood. I walked towards the canvas as I felt my heart tell me to go to the room where it's kept.
My eyes are seeing that picture now, and my heart is realizing it.
The guy holds his girlfriend to his chest by the lake. Kissing her on the lips, their love makes the lake flow with more vigour, causing the wind and the flowers on the shore to embrace.
In the distance, Mr. George is seen walking with Bashir, happily with his hand on his shoulder. The brush is in Bashir’s hand.
As I mentioned earlier, Mr. George is a magician, or how can he cultivate the feeling of three pictures in me by showing the same picture, without making any notable changes.
"Hey.., can you help me ... I ... I ... what ... how am I here".
When I looked back, I saw a stranger, staggering, yes, new person, someone like me.
I told him what Mr. George had told me the first time, when I had the same question before.
"If you can see me, talk to me, hear me, we both are dead".