We have had tea together a thousand times in these cane chairs facing her curry leaf tree and windows hung with old silk curtains.
Sia is a good woman with friends and folks who love her; why wouldn’t they, she is not just strikingly entertaining, she is one of the loveliest persons I have ever met. Dark long classic almond eyes in a determined oval shaped face set in wheat gold skin you want to paint! ( I’ve tried painting Sia and will try again; she is a hundred stories and I must wait to capture all their colours, oh she’s generous with comment and has booked a canvas from my battered easel). I was saying though, beneath that nice surface is soft steel, easier to break than I suspected possible.
“I should not insist on being loved by my only sibling, but uhm, who said blood is thicker than anything else? It is a liquid and it can dry up like a forgotten river.”
Sia talks that way between better days, so I’m not all surprised, and yet today the moment simmers like her eyes: they brim with aloneness.
“One should know they are not needed or loved anymore, but I still hang on, I follow my sister, I wait for her to come home, I remember our childhood too much, now…it changes? Because...?”
I have not one nice warm thing to say. Her gold lemon tea with mint leaf waits in white ceramic; I cannot breathe, her hurt has to ebb. It doesn’t.
“..is alright,” she continues as if she heard me. “Let’s have that mint from my herbal pot, hehe!”
Just when I was settling into her sorrow she turns into the rising sun.
“You know, Ray. I do not feel bitter anymore?! They do not want me, that is fine. We fight for those we need to keep. Once that is not there anymore, what is the fight? How is the painting coming up?“
“What painting?!” I ask without thinking and her face blows up in laughter. Without warning, Sia Mayben is a skyful of crackers!
“This is what I love best about you, girl. You are not picking problems, you do not care, you walk in a Light that is not the sun.”
“…and there’s a God and He loves you, loves me. My entire life I hate Him, but He never leaves. Never. Nah….Yem! ” She says that for ‘yes’ occasionally, it’s her unusual upbringing; I will never know where she totally grew up in. She sounds like ghettos sometimes- raw, dismembered, and then she is a fountain of healing.
Today for some reason I’m the cause of her healing? I said / did nothing, but the woman isn’t listening. At 80+ she’s earned that right. She talks about her dead sis like she’s there in the next room, then she turns into the Psalmist.
I promise to finish her painting as soons I get more time between comforting Kitsy our second daughter whose Crayfish ate up her beloved Molly– I didn’t dare tell her ‘I told you so’,
Oh but I did tell her,
that, and our youngest fantastic blind 21 year old declaring hatred for his walking cane-
yes, must paint Sia. She is the color of an earth poised to smile: the blood in her runs deep as a river that never forgets. Did her sister really not love her? I’ll never know – Alzheimer’s is a deadly treasure trove.
Though, it makes Sia all the more a mystery to peer through – at a world aching for rest.
“Blood doesn’t matter …” Is a sentence laced heavy with truth. I know at least 2 adopted human beings whose love is not enarmoured by genetics.
Weaving my way back home between Bipolar auto rickshaws and pre- monsoon showers pelting the sidewalk, I can’t help feeling Sia’s feelings. Yem. There’s more that matters, than just blood.
C.S.Lewis’ ‘Winged Horse‘, re-wiring the way I look at Renewals:
worn out earth route replaced by sky map – wings; brain fatigue, taken on by new oxygen!
Who said anything against that, Bro, take a walk in the direction of newnesses. “Racham” Love beyond Love. I found that in a Hebrew Translation of the Love of God, beyond parallel. Love like that speaks to worn out sinews of humanity; to its war-birthed monsters of chaos. Ay, Racham, a Love that breathes into my empty spaces that would other wise fill with death.
My April flower – Jacque- montia, big name for a bushling, already a favorite in our tiny balcony garden. It is war with local pigeon though, that want to nest here. One feather head, Tina born here, now tries tag her brood in, every season along with speckled partner. They are a mess, and we’ve told them that. They need to get independent. Get a tree. They won’t listen. Now there’s Jacquemont– found her at a local shop, she loves the sun. Reminds me of India. Teeming with survival.
yesterday this time it* went through parts of Bangalore city, it rattled panes, shook houses; 10+ hours earlier they heard it in Canberra….
a ‘*Supersonic Boom that our Ground & Air forces here in India are puzzled at. It felt like an earthquake in the air around and deep within…. it’s bass explosive rumble was not like any Jet, not like anything I’ve ever heard, “….no it is Cyclone Amphan air pressure impact; no no we do not know...”
As a Race all of a sudden, we do not know much except mutual questions. The life we knew will not return, but things that offended do not seem to offend now. We as Humans are looking deeper; Prayers are welcomed. Safe is where? Peace is an Essential Commodity like never before. Kabooms are even neighbourly. Tonight if some of us see Clouds throbbing in Neon (actually have seen these from our terrace 5years ago; thought it was local Rock Concert laser beams going hyper high) we may shrug it off as yet another 2020 event. As a Cluster of Survivors we are gaining immunity to bad news, Shock absorbers all kicking in.
What’d Hitler have done; or any of those big boys of war? This is the Grandma of War, and she is Villain non parallel and yet Kah-boom!- she has changed us into Hermits for Peace like never before in the History of the human race.
Neighbours begin to nod at each others neighbours; old ‘enemies’ send you WhatsApp forwards, they appreciate your potted plants seen in Instagram Story. Songs are sung by people with no vocal gifting, it’s even beautiful, meaningful. We are losing our Shy. We do not mind being photographed without our glasses. We still care about appearances though, we give us new haircuts. We yearn to not hesitate to shake hands, hug. That’ll be rare. That’ll be rare. But we will go on. We will wash our hands and feet and face relentlessly-relentlessly wash veggies, sanitize phones and c.cards …. but we will go on. We will look up at the sky and expect comets meteors and flares. If there are more Boombooms we will just not panic like we used to about exams and traffic jams. We are tougher than we are shocked, we are now closer to the Unknown than we’ve ever been. No, no. We are not caterpillars nor monkeys. We live we die we experience positivity, patient endurance and peace mid chaos. We work it. We tell our kids & friends on phone and in market places or between days of the week… be strong we say. We mean it. We wake up early to stare at the sky…. how its’ Light kills Virus. Our babies ask Existential Questions we no longer shush. We wonder too. Where are we from? Where do we go next…
There are no alternative activities to these Askings. We ask on. We understand each others’ questions better. We go quiet- no one thinks that odd. Not if we wear a wrinkly scarf, uncombed hair. You’re friendlier if.
All these things. We’ve changed so hard we can not go back. We are freer than we’ve ever been as a mass of individuals. Yes we die, we are afraid, we cry. But we are sweeter, nicer, kinder, tenderer. We share the Highest Common Factor- Human Frailty. This mutes Snobs. We are all Untouchables. How that looks if you draw us all is we are these Masked Breathers. We are changed into Changelings in the Twinkling of an Eye; it arrived like a Thief in the night. It took our Breathe-Easy days and Ka-Boom! Its turned our 7 billion into 2 alpabets: Us, however divided, in the face of Existence. We are Unstoppable Seekers of the Peace of God.
know you are Loved by a Force you cannot see, but One that sees you. Regret nothing but what you deprive yourself of tomorrow. Love generously, live every minute, I mean LIVE. Lockdown all noise that Intrudes. We deserve more than we give ourselves. You are No.1 and should be in your list of beautiful things this side of heaven. You are precious, more than trees and leaves of all the pages ever written anywhere on earth, aren’t you?
Aren’t you? Look deep in the eyes of your heart and read the preciousness with which you were created. See how Someone died so you and I could live free as we do, children of an earth almost too blest. Aren’t we, too blest? Warrior friend mine, yes you,
I write this with an urgency I do not understand: there’s a day to live for today and you and I must excel all expectations to just be normal. We ride above the boring norms we chalked out for yesterday… eh warrior please let go of yesterday’s habits, yesterday’s nightmares, let go, let go of tomorrow’s predictions, let’s be who we were, we are, will be… warriors in love and Peace: nothing missing, nothing broken-
we were made for days as these in a Love that forever breathes heavens’ brand of peace Warrior, please.
You are seeing Ads. here? No, they are not endorsed by me nor am paid for, for them in any way 🙂. My apologies for inconvenience and I pray for the day Essentials will be truly free. I know, that’s asking a bit much. I love WordPress and the ability to Blog no matter what; also that through this medium, to have the ability to read your presence.
Did this 👇painting last year, after seeing Souza’s Christ( see below 2nd painting for also, his grand son’s Street graffiti of Goan woman praying?)
Art is a language all it’s own. When I’m silenced from society and ask myself what I’m at, is when Painting kicks in. It’s like dancing for me, or cooking a designer meal. It’s my dialect. There’s grace, disgrace, pain, hopeless hope.
Today, Palm Sunday and India and everywhere potentially exploding with Covid, or not…. it’s that kind of day again I’m looking within. Some call it prayer,
you can label it, morph it, strip it down, it’s still the fact of reaching out to the One that made me: the Act of Love that consummates my presence here, the Fact of His Life…. when I think of that, there is little else that overcomes. And I need some overcoming, Now.
Am grateful for the Gifts we are given at this time. Gifts that say it better than we might. These are the Journals of our Times. These are the trails we leave behind, our blood prints that might be a new kind of beautiful for generations to follow. What we are at.. in the Now, matters. These emotions, questions, they capture human responses, and sometimes responses are all we’ve got to secure our eternities.
Souza captures Christ with that Palm Leaf; you might call it grotesque almost, but this is how pain looks in any given century.
His grandson’s Graffiti details the folded palms of a Goan woman. What’s she asking? What are we asking. globally, individually: are there immediate answers, is there Beauty in the Ashes of hopes, prayers and dreams,
what’s Christ got to do with contemporary existence, does God care I may ask. What do we do now:
what is this that causes peace when I pause, lean, go still…. my emotional palms folding in,
is Humanity beautiful when we are most vulnerable,
do we ask questions of immortality, here, like this, now,
Life wasn’t ever permanent. Now maybe is all we’ve got.
This Post is for anyone celebrating their birthday today, (and everyone else) I have this urge to celebrate you, and offer a tiny prayer too from my son who’s incredible gift is prayer. If you’ve been following posts you’ll know he’s not just blind but recovering from a series of disturbing issues, but this isn’t about him;
whichever part of the world you’re in: what a ride this is, and yet we are still the same people we were born as…
Was my birthday couple of days ago: “..no fuss,” I warned them, but there they were @ midnight, cake and candles, hushed whispers: in the morning among mysteriously bought gifts, was a Heart full of blue crystal stars from Kitsy, and Perfume from our eldest, my first name ‘Diella‘ hand- crafted in with scores of words like “Light”. (I got that name in a dream, after a long crazy illness. While I healed, there was a dream: it had my name written on a white stone. Diella means Worshipper);
mid- birthday joy, now there was announcement of national 21 day curfew; our entire street & surrounding areas went quiet, no bustle of traffic or twitter from Myna in trees running between our home and army acres across.
Within our walls, my family had strung out little lights, there was music and the smells of great cooking,
(I have officially surrendered cooking baton to second daughter Kitsy, who is master chef! (On left is how she used to be), now 👇….sigh, they grow so fast.
D’you sometimes feel guilty to feel happy? You know it’s a mess out here with virus and anxiety attacks, but now and then there’s a celebration,
so here’s the thing: we were going thru’ all our pics, and my Jeff he rounded off everyone’s words with, “Ray, you are … you are… unique….” ….words that make me stare at everyone else now…..
that, there is no one like you either!
No matter the news, nothing changes who you are, your essence is unique, novel! Yes they say ‘novel‘ for all kinds of things, but here we are, citizens and strangers and basic people born to mothers and families and lives that can change in the twinkling of an eye. We been warned of all that, but when it arrives it’s a thief in the night, it’s a touch between life and death…
We got two bone chilling letters from people we love, one from our precious nephew in a hospital in Germany, he’s a doctor; and the other from a very dear friend in the U.S. They wrote loving notes, asking family to pay attention to how deadly this Covid thing is, the pace at which it mutates, its silent stealth. These precious ones lives are at risk because of their professions: I can’t tell you enough what it felt like, to be gazing at/ celebrating life in all its hues: to hug across the miles, and cry tears of love and pain;
to know that we 7 billion are strong and yet we are this vulnerable. We are beloved and fragile, our life is like grass, and yet we are one-of-a- kind- each, Designer made, no matter that our breath can be whisked away; we are phenomenal, a Force to reckon with. The day we were born, people paused or clapped, kissed? …. wept.
We can die, and even that occasion is phenomenal. It causes chaos / maddening grief, because humans as a race cannot be ignored. If one of us is attacked in any unusual ordeal it is News. The entire planet of us under siege is another thing altogether, nothing competes with the vastness of that: the fact that we are under this kind of common indefinable, insurmountable distress is totally New.
If we survive this, and many will, there will be the aftermath of it and it may be unlike anything recorded in the history of mankind: I don’t want to go much there: this one is about birthdays and how it feels to celebrate humans, mid- international crisis; it feels strange and provocative -beautiful and Quiet.
This morning I woke up feeling different, younger and older, like I had more in my 206 bones. It’s an awareness… of what? The immortality of life, or its brevity? I’m staring at books we used to read, it’s like from another life: movies, talks. Some Quotes feel more right than before. Oh, bouquets and birds, they don’t change, they are like paintings and classical music; they have Eternity in them. But our conversation…. it is halved in a new way.
Birthday hugs: they are tighter.
Gazes and strummed guitar, candle lights and the clink of glasses… they say new things. I can’t say what, just new. And old. And somethings we never knew before. We thought we knew it all. Our parents and grandparents taught us how to say Grace and say please, thankyou and sorry. As we grew we thought we understood things a little more than yesterday. It felt sweet, sometimes sour.
Now, I don’t know… and that is a New Thing. It reminds me of how little we all truly know about each other as humans. You are a person with feelings and heart and we must care deeply for each others’ well being, must pray for one another’s lives/ souls…
this is more than birthdays: you can see this Post hovers around that word and how I want to wish you a beautiful life without sounding patronizing, even if it’s not birthday zone. Even if life’s not short and we’ll survive this and other wars.
Our daughter Vi does these Videos and I’d love for you to listen to this one. She’s a lot like me and feels deeply about things;
then our son walks in on her recording (he cannot bear closed doors), but the moment turns around, he prays and brings you right into our room facing palm trees on it’s right, with my large painting in the back drop. It is called DaySpring, and I wish you that Inner Spring of Light and Life.
Vi does her own take on Michael W. Smith’s Agnus Dei; we looked up those words and it means “Emblem: a Lamb bearing the Cross of Christ.”
All sounds so serious. D’you get the feeling life is way more than mortal detail? That there’s more besides thinking on Cures and everyday bread/ rice/ health… that oneday we might all be someplace else besides this planet?
And that we matter incredibly more than we suspect…
This is another one I’ve no clue how to wrap. Do have a blessed day.
Let me say it out loud, not just because I’m artistically inclined:
Art is the Journal of our Times, the Colour of our Decibel:in an environment that might seem to be growing steadily deaf to human existential need, or isn’t it?
TOI smashed it with above version of the world’s 2nd most famous painting next to Mona Lisa, THE SCREAM:
originally painted by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch, 1893, (Norwegian title- Der Schrei Der Nature, the Scream of Nature: Shriek), the face of this Painting symbolizes: Quote Arthur Lubow: “….the universal anxiety of modern man.”
It is a masterpiece that has perhaps inspired one of our noisiest Emojis, little need of professional skills & cartoonery, just text an Emoji yell, 😱 courtesy Mr. Munch. (Don’t you wonder what was going on while he painted this one?) It reads to me like a Seismograph of his mind.
I found 2 paragraphs (below) from a personal journal of his: worth the read if you’re curious:
“…from the moment of my birth, the angels of anxiety, worry, and death stood at my side, followed me out when I played, followed me in the sun of springtime and in the glories of summer. They stood at my side in the evening when I closed my eyes, and intimidated me with death, hell, and eternal damnation…” Edvard Munch.
the Artist on that walk with two others separated by gaps and back drop blue swirl. In this pastel version, its center figure’s skeletal eyes gawk at a deaf Universe. The Scream is certainly no photograph, with random pedestrians; this is E. Munch’s mind, another heirloom hanging in there in the noise of us.
“We do not want pretty pictures to be hung on drawing-room walls. We want… an art that arrests and engages. An art of one’s innermost heart.” – Edvard Munch
1893 to 2020:
what would Edvard M. have painted if he were here today; what was the expression of inner man, a good century ago…do gut reactions not change? It is the saddest, most explosive painting ever viewed globally.
I had written about E.M’s Scream elsewhere, and needed to include a few Readers’ Comments in this Reblog here, without which this Post would be incomplete. Thankyou, and I hope you approve.
“…perhaps love, peace, joy, compassion, grace, beauty among others were never meant to be understood. Those moments when our understanding is suspended are to live for – where does it start or end? What actually exists in between? Is it good or bad or less significant than we make it out to be. More questions than answers ..and I don’t particularly like suspended understanding…”
Nor I, but I guess some of that makes for Masterpieces? One tries to own joy peace, love, strength, all that. Perhaps in the ‘suspended moment’ we cross fjords, chasms. Fenced in, we keel over at our dusk. Is possible we hear each other’s Screams in our own; perhaps that’s why this Painting grabs the imagination of so many. One relates to it. In our daily pursuit of happiness I’d like to think our best moments are perhaps in those suspended places, even if they are too loud to understand. or forget.
You’re right, this is a profoundly sad image. Here’s what I see in it: the stylized foreground figure is warped by his warped environment, a dynamic suggested by the swirling forces on the offing and the subject’s distorted body. He’s the same color as the two figures in the background, suggesting some kind of kinship, but they are distant and unaware, and perhaps unconcerned. And yes, this is a masterpiece.
Thank you for your comment, I was intrigued by Jill Llyod’s “..a changing point in history – man cut loose from all the certainties that had comforted him up until that point in the 19th Century: there is no God now, no tradition, no habits or customs – just poor man in a moment of existential crisis, facing a universe he doesn’t understand and can only relate to in a feeling of panic. That may sound very negative, but that is the modern state…this feeling that we have lost all the anchors that bind us to the world.” Unsure that Munch believed in any God or Eternity –d’you think there’s that vacuum today? “…facing a universe he can only relate to in a feeling of panic ? “
This was such a beautifully written piece! I have to admit, I’ve never been that good with paintings and seeing ‘deeper meanings’ but when I read your take on it, it made so much more sense to me. Amazing how you can look at the same painting and see two completely different things, isn’t it? And I simply love the concept of ‘suspended understanding’ as a whole. I’ve never really been able to put that feeling into words, and the way they’ve described it was spot on. Looking forward to reading more….
Powerful post… I see the one question I hope everyone gets to ask themselves… ‘ what am I doing here?’ Then to let go and be in the void of seemingly nothing yet which actually holds everything just waiting for you to turn up and enjoy…
A long read this!
Thankyou E. Munch for making me stare at the Environment all over again today:
I’m intrigued, and curiously satisfied that somethings are growing universally common in human language: Food for one. Angst. The Relief of Fulfillment. The Joy of Discovery…especially that.
Is It (Environment) listening, are we listening to It? Was that Munch’s Scream, or was he deafened by a yelling Universe?
*Art historian Jill Lloyd, “The Scream ..sums up a changing point in history – man cut loose from all the certainties that had comforted him up until that point in the 19th Century: there is no God now, no tradition, no habits or customs – just poor man in a moment of existential crisis, facing a universe he doesn’t understand and can only relate to in a feeling of panic. That may sound very negative, but that is the modern state…this feeling that we have lost all the anchors that bind us to the world.”
He walked into a Banquet sans suit and necktie, but with ‘loin cloth‘ representing all his brother- farmers back home in India. Oh he talked, wrote, fasted, got thrown out of here and there, was jailed, unjailed, hailed by kings and the rest, fought gently, made salt against Govt orders(Dandi March, pre Indian Independance……), got beaten up, dared kingdoms, befriended and brought together people of all ‘castes’…. how?