Family

1 Mar

CHAPTER FOUR

Patel put away his mp3 player; enough of the music for one day. He really had to take seriously his father’s warning about his lack of seriousness with his studies. He was in his high school senior year and would be getting into college next semester and though he had always dreamed about his sophomore year in college, he was not so sure anymore.

Somehow he resented his father ever since he kicked Radji and his family out his grandfather’s. To him, the Radji’s were like family and kicking them out was like severing ties with family. His father had managed to convince him about the logicality of his action when he was younger, but as he grew older he found out that to his father class was everything. The only reason his father had sent them away was because he felt they did not belong to the same class.

His father had managed to hide his true self all through when his grandfather was alive, but he had had no issues in showing his true self once he felt he had arrived. And he had surely arrived for everything had been willed to him…or so it seemed.

It had always baffled Patel how his grandfather who had been so fond of his grandchildren had bequeathed nothing to them. His older brothers were content with living off their father but he had no such intentions. He was determined to carve a niche for himself in the arts. He had always loved to use his hands and art and creativity had appealed to him from when he was a little boy. He had a thing for shapes and shades. He could spot the various hues of whatever colour there is.

His grandfather had been impressed by his talent and encouraged him, but not so his father. Even the greeting cards he had made for him in all of his birthdays and father’s days had never appealed to him. Patel had taken to not making any for him for about two years running now, and he not even noticed!

He picked up a book on Indian art and lay on his bed. This was what he was determined to explore—Indian art. His grandfather had sold India to him as a boy, he had seen his roots through his grandfather’s eyes and longed to see the place that made his grandfather’s eyes light up the way they always did when he talked about home.

It was remarkable indeed for grandpa had spent most of his life here in the United States than he did in India. But he had left a legacy before he departed—a love for a place his grandson had never seen.

Though his father was opposed to it, Patel had studied a great deal about Indian art on his own.  He had read about the Mughal emperors who imported miniatures in the 15th century. Their portraits focused on animals, plants and other aspects of the physical world.

Their knowledge of creative art was indeed world class and affects even present day India. Some aspects of their art, such as the Kangra painting and Rajput painting—hybrid watercolours, were influenced by European art. These were Islamic calligraphy and also called sub-mughals.

The artistic prowess of the Mughals can be seen even today. The Taj Mahal—one of the seven wonders of the ancient world was built by them. The building is made of white marble and was built as mausoleum for the wife of the emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century.

India also boasts of other world famous caves as the Taj Mahal—the Ajanta caves with beautiful paintings some dating back as far as the 5th and 6th century and the Ellora caves which is carved out of a single gigantic rock.

Patel opened the book and stared at it unseeingly for a couple of minutes. His mind had wandered back to the beautiful vision Mala has become. The memory of her excitement at seeing him brought a smile to his lips. Her unaffected laughter echoed in his ears as he recollected their animated discussion the day of his unexpected visit. He made a mental note to pay her more unexpected visits.

Patel had become quite fond of Mala when his grandfather was alive; in fact it seemed his grandfather went out of his way to encourage it. That must have been why his father clamped down on them upon the passing of grandpa. It seemed, from the way father had changed over the short space of time, that father had always resented grandpa and only pretended to like him just in order to get his hands on the inheritance.

Patel knew it was wrong to think about his father in these terms, but he couldn’t help it. Father had taken away something he considered precious—his relationship with Mala. He knew he was too young to be thinking in this line—a relationship? But he knew deep inside how he felt about Mala and hoped she felt the same way too.

‘I must be kidding myself’ he mused ‘She is only ten years old.’

He got out of bed and moving over to the window, he gazed out over the perfectly manicured garden. The sight was so picturesque it always took his breath away. This was the one thing he was going to miss when he left the house, because he was indeed going to leave soon, the view from his bedroom window.

He went over to his chest of drawers and pulled out his sketch book. He then went to the door, locked it and returned to his position by the window. He needed to capture this scene from all the angles he could manage. As his hands flew across the paper with his pencil he thought about how great men like Abranindranath Tagore and Amrita Sher-Gil, the Avant-garde, who modernized art in the Indian society, must have felt with each piece of work they produced.

The next three hours flew by without Patel’s taking note of the passage of time. He was engrossed in his drawings, paying attention even to minute details. The changing atmosphere reflected in his drawings as he sketched the garden from three different angles. His drawings when he had just started off were brighter than the later drawings for the latter reflected the twilight hours.

When he was finally done with the three drawings he laid them on his bed and examined them one by one under fluorescent light. He fell in love with the drawing. Though they were all pure pencil work, it caught the resplendent beauty of the garden.

His pencil work was really improving, he thought to himself. He could send these to the art department and see what Harold Collins would say about it. Collins, the creative arts teacher, has been a real source of encouragement for him, helping him channel his talent in the right direction. It was Collins who had advised him to concentrate on pencil work when he had thought he was good at water colours. Surely Collins would help him out as to what to do.

His thought was interrupted by someone trying the door and then subsequent rapping. Patel hurriedly returned the drawings to his dresser, taking care to put them under neatly folded clothes.

‘Who is it?’ he asked as he tried to disarrange his bed.

‘Open up!’ his father yelled authoritatively.

Patel ran his fingers through his hair to roughen it, praying that he had managed to achieve a disheveled look, and unlocked the door. One look at his father’s expression and he knew he had not succeeded.

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