Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Painting on The Wall

Keshav could take some more time, so Zareena thought she may do some cleaning. There were so many stuff lying around for no particular reason. She looked into a box kept on top of the cupboard. It had a dusty old candle and an equally dusty night lamp - the small one with a plug and a glass slide with an impression of a mosque and a moon on it. She took it in her hand, sat down on a chair, dusted it lovingly and looked up the wall where the painting of Ganapathi was hanging.

Zareena and Keshav had married defying conventions. Inter religious marriages especially Hindu - Muslim were bound to fail because of the great differences in lifestyles and beliefs-  they had been told. The very first difference did come when they began to hang the paintings they got as gifts for their marriage. But here was a dilemma. Zareena was not used to paintings of Gods or living things. For her, having them did not give her a homely feeling. She told that to Keshav.

 "Well, not having them does not feel like my house. I am as used to them in my house and you are not used to them not being there". He said. Well he had a point. After all it was "their" house.

So they made a deal. No more paintings other than the three they already had - and that too because they were beautiful and not because of  any religious connotations. The others would be of flowers. "Deal" Keshav said. Of course buying paintings was a costly business, so Zaree picked up around 6 small paintings for around Rs200/- from the nearby Sarojini market and hung them in different places. Both were happy.

But it was not over yet.

They soon decided to buy a vacuum cleaner. While Hubby Keshu was looking at the vacuum cleaners, Zaree's eyes fell on some very beautiful glass slide night lamps with impressions on them - Some of Christ, various Hindu gods,Mosques, Arabic inscriptions and moons. A person with weakness of pretty trinkets they caught her attention. She wanted it more than ever and searched for a religion neutral slide but none were there. At last a beautiful solitary crescent caught her eye. And she asked Keshu for his opinion. Imagine her surprise and hurt when the normally generous Keshu vetoed it.

"But why"

"It’s a waste of money"

"But it only costs 50 rupees. We spend 100 rupees just for a coffee in coffee day". She persisted.

He became more and more stubborn. "You didnot count the electricity bill." He replied. 

"Ok now you are just saying something for the sake of saying something. What is the real reason?" she insisted.

"I don't like how they commercialize religion and sell it. They know people buy them for that sake only."

"I was not buying it for that reason. There was no other slides and I really think it’s beautiful. Anyhow, what about the Ganapathi painting hanging in the wall? That's way more costly too. You have no problem with that."

"Well that's beautiful. This is just a moon, and not even a full moon."

"Well what's beautiful for you need not be for me and what is beautiful for me need not be for you. Ganapathi feels familiar to you so you think it is beautiful. This crescent feels familiar and beautiful to me. How would you feel if I refused to keep the painting anymore because I felt that it was not beautiful?"

"But You said it was beautiful".

"That's because I can see it as a painting only. Well, I don't think it's beautiful anymore. I am going to remove it. so there" Zaree replied exasperated.

They had started bickering like kids.

Suddenly both became aware that all this argument was taking place in a store and the store boy who was showing the vacuum cleaner was loitering uncomfortably a bit far off.

Keshu quickly finalized the cleaner while Zaree moved away looking at other things.

"You can buy it if you want" Keshu said in a reconcilitary tone coming to her. But she was too hurt and angry ."No thanks Keshu the moment is gone . Its beauty has been spoilt." Zaree  replied coldly. Keshu didnot say anything. Zaree knew Keshu was hurt now but she didnot care. 'How could he grudge me a small trinklet citing religion after all the adjustments I had made'. She thought self pityingly.

They had reconciled soon later and the incident was forgotten. Zaree of course didnot pack off the painting as she had threatened but it did irritate her sometimes.

She was making biryani for Eid and Keshu had just come from the market. While rummaging the bag Zaree saw a small rectangular box ."What's this Keshu?" she asked opening it. Out came a small night lamp with a glass slide with the impression of a mosque and a crescent.

It was more than  2 months. Poor Keshu, She smiled lovingly. It has been in his mind for this long.
Keshu came sheepishly."Oh I wanted to gift it to you. You found it?" Keshu confessed he had felt bad about it for the last 2 months and every time he went out he had searched for it. Zaree was torn between accepting the gift and explaining herself. On one hand she didnot want to belittle his gift and on the other hand she was afraid he would think it was a religious thing. "you know keshu," she began softly.

"I really thought that the crescent was beautiful. I would have never bought this one."
Keshu nodded regretfully."I know I didnot think it was beautiful either but I have been searching for 2 months and I never found the crescent. So ultimately I bought this."

At last it had come to the open. You know keshu , I was surprised when you refused to buy this for me that day. I thought you felt that i might try to impose my religious feelings on you. Did you buy any chance feel so. Zaree asked again. We have to trust each other that we will never do that. I thought you knew i would never do that. She said.

Keshu replied softly.... I know that now.

Zaree knew that he did.

After that the ganapathi on the wall became a kind of symbol to let the other person know when the line was being crossed.  When  Zaree would feel as if she was pushed into the other direction she would quip- I am going to keep photos of Mecca and Medina just opposite to the painting of the ganapathi and sometimes Keshu would declare - Fill the walls with paintings of Gods - always jokingly, but the hint would be taken.... the message would be understood.

Now they didnot even need such messages, They had both found the perfect understanding. The painting in the wall helped to remove the obstacles of ego and hurt due to insufficient communication between them.

Zaree smiled looking at the night lamp in hand. They had used it that night. Zaree had happily switched it on. Colours filled the room. It was red at first, then green , then yellow. Within 2 minutes, it had began to give Zaree a headache. She couldnot sleep. It was as if she was in a disco. But she was reluctant to off it too. ...... All this ruckus for nothing?!!!!

But in 5 minutes, better sense prevailed.

"I am going to off it. My head it paining. You are right. It IS a waste of money. Maybe when we have children , they will enjoy it." Zaree said laughing.

"hmmmmm"..... Keshu murmerred

Did he smile in the dark??? She would never know.

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