Memories surface amidst confusing galore of images that nature presented me. Of cascading waves, hitting the crab-infested sandy shores, flattening into foamy disarray. Singing waves of the Arabian Sea caressing me into sleep in the night with their lullabies, gently waking up in the mornings with a chorus.
Monsoon brings their ferociousness in giant waves roaring towards the shore hitting their heads on the sandy beach in a suicidal determination. The roar of the waves frighten me into sleepless nights. The sandy beach and palm grove stretch divided the Valiakath mansionmy ancestral home and the sea. I grip the edges of my pillow and cover my face lying down. The Kosery-the thin bed that is spread over the palm leaf mat with checkered patterns and red embroidered borders doesn’t help much. The roar comes straight into my ears deafening me and shut out my sleep. Early morning cold helps and I go into a slumber despite the roaring cacophony.
Once the morning brightens up, I am happy and love the roar and the turmoil of the water and watch the giant waves hit the sand like a boxers punch. The frightened but determined seabirds and crows flew up just in time to avoid the hitting hands of water. As soon as the wave flattens to a frothy pattern they settle down again and continue their search of little crabs and tiny prawns, on which they feast. Despite my frightening encounter with the sea at nights, I love to spend hours near the shore watching the waves flatten on the sand and the seagulls flying towards the horizon. The Urus and Pathemaris—sea going vessels of yesteryears—on their maritime trade run, pass by. I watch their white sails flutter against the blue sky in the wind with awe inspiring magic.
My passion for the sea found expression on the back side kitchen walls in broken pieces of burnt twig-the forerunner of modern charcoal. I drew seagulls flying towards the setting sun, palm trees towering over the distant horizon. Pathemaris and Urus in their glittering sails that slowly move away from the view. They all found way into my drawings which wasn’t appreciated by one of my uncles. He felt I am disfiguring the whitewashed walls that I consider my canvas. His understanding of art was as much as our cows know about Shakespeare. Later, after a visit to the nearby fishing village, I began to add the fishing boats and the dangling lines of sardines and eels that looked like festival decorations. The fisherwomen with large baskets of fresh fish on their heads swinging their hips and large bosoms to a tango attracted me, and I drew them on the wall as well. One day I drew a large picture of our car. An Austin Tourer in which I went to school. I drew a picture of Raman Nair who was our driver and all in all at home. He managed the dozen domestic helps in our home and was the confidant of my granny. I was about five at that time. My father saw the drawing and liked it. Raman Nair stood behind my father and appreciated it too. Elated with the appreciation I added a few more portraits of the ladies who work in the kitchen and the boys who look after our cows and buffalos. But the next day my truant uncle ordered all those pictures to be wiped and washed out. I felt sick after seeing all my drawings disappearing. But despite the threat from uncle I promptly went back to my wall. Next day when my uncle was away I covered the entire wall with images of a cow herd gracing near the backwaters’, the cowboys in their loin cloths and all that.
You can destroy the art but you cannot destroy the artist’s imaginations.
The writer is a renowned artist.