In a day filled with busy outings for inviting some friends and extended family for a wedding, I visited the house of one of my family friends. The elderly couple there knew me since I was about five years old and they welcomed me inside with the warmth and love that only the older people can exude. I had not visited them since the last ten years but strangely I did not feel out of place as I entered and immediately made myself comfortable.
Nothing much had changed in the house itself – it was the same as ever, spacious, filled with austere furniture but somehow vibrant and cozy. The walls which had been filled with the framed pictures of their only daughter now had additional pictures of their granddaughter, who, I would learn in due course, was a gifted child who excelled in academics and recited whole verses from the Bhagavad Gita with an ease that surprised me. The cute little kid of five was initially shy but once the pleasantries had been done with, and the elders got talking, I wandered around the house, looking at the photos adorning the walls.
The kid had settled down to her work, the one she had been doing before we entered. I went closer to inspect what she was doing when I noticed that a whole worktable was a complete mess of loose sheets of paper, brushes dipping paint and a lot of fresh and dry leaves littered on and around the table. I slinked nearby almost silently, not wanting to disturb her concentration. I watched as a painting slowly took shape, as the kid wisely used half a mango leaf for the torso of a character, and used her thumb to create the semblance of a face.
The painting was quickly finished, and it was a stunning canvas of a village scene, done entirely out of leaf painting with impressions from the bottom end of soft drink bottles, plastic caps and covers of pens to create the various shapes. I sat down next to her, entranced, while she held up the painting for my appreciation, which I gladly offered. I got her into conversation and she told me how her school encouraged crafts and this was for a school project. The project seemed way out of the league of a five year old, especially seeing as she came from the school I studied in, and I was pretty sure I hadn’t learned leaf painting when I was much older than seven.
But I could not resist the tempting paint and leaves so I tried my hand at it for fun while the kid laughed gleefully as I got all sorts of random shapes that made no sense. Long story short, when the elders came, I was having paint all over my hands, a few streaks of it on my favorite dress and, as my cousin later told me amidst fits of laughter, a prominent patch of it on my nose. I knew I had done leaf painting in school like every kid ever, but it seemed much more fun, and infinitely better doing it with a smaller kid whose enthusiasm was unmatched.
I was not even embarrassed to show off my ‘painting’ that I have brought back home because it reminded me of a memorable morning where I relearned something I already knew from a different angle. The painting is taped to the door of my bookshelf. It is not reproduced here for obvious reasons (it is really not that much of an artistic masterpiece – that is a skill I do not have) but it shall be there every time I open my shelf, reminding me of an innocent child’s laughter and a day that told me one can never be too old to play with a child.
A day well spent, a lesson and a ‘painting’ to take back! 😛