I have been doing a lot of watercolour painting this vacation and P has been pestering me to do one on his own. His conditions were – ‘using your paints, your brushes and on handmade paper’. At the risk of my watercolour tray getting mixed and messed up, I gave in to his long standing demand.
So today he got up all excited, finished his morning routine at express speed and sat down determined to paint his masterpiece. When I asked he what he wanted to paint, he told me emphatically, ‘I have it all figured out. I want to paint an ulsavam aana (caparisoned elephant) – the one we clicked during the ulsavam (temple festival). You draw it for me and I will look at the photo and paint’. I was taken aback with the level of planning and so I just followed his ‘figured out’ plan.
With the photo in front of him, he started his work with a little prayer. I was surprised to see how much he has been observing me when I paint – I always start my paintings with a small prayer.
Since watercolour is a new medium for P, I had to guide him through it despite his protests. We worked on the art together, with me highlighting the edges and P painting as per my instruction. And just like that we came up with our first collaborative work.
The time spent, as always gave me a peek into my little boy’s head, a rare opportunity given the fact that his world is now infused with friends, sports, books, play and the likes. When we finished our painting, I told him how I loved our ‘art time’ to which P cheekily replied ‘I think we should do this more often amma. I can teach you so many things!’
A large part of my life, which was in my hometown, was spent waiting for the annual temple festival at the local temple. It is usually in January/February every year for a week. The whole town practically packs itself tightly in the compound of our Shiva temple to see the lord atop caprisoned elephants majestically walking to the beats of the melam (typical Kerala percussion art). The atmosphere is heady and the air so spiritual and magical that no one left the temple grounds before the Lord called it a day.
Ever since P came into my life, I have fervently wished he could witness the magic, more so because P loves the melam and elephants. However the timing always clashed with our work and school commitments that going to our hometown during the temple festival or ulsavam took the back seat.
Guess someone up there was listening to my wish, as this year we happened to be in our hometown as a family, for the ulsavam. And sure enough we made the most of it. P was initially skeptical about the crowd and all the hustle bustle and wanted to beat a hasty retreat as soon as we made it to the temple. But the minute the majestic caprisioned elephants came out with the Lord, he was wonderstruck.
He insisted on walking and staying really close to the elephants and the melam and went to the extent of following the elephants back to their shelter where they were fed and rested for the following day’s festivities. This became routine for us for the days we were there. I was thrilled that P could experience what I did as a kid.
When he transalated his experience to art, I knew my little boy came back with a big piece of my hometown in his heart.