Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Confetti. Round Wreaths of roses. Little pink bridesmaids. With unfurled rosebuds pinned to their hair. We have it all. A Magical wedding. I, in a white and gold sari. Diamonds sparkling at my ears, nose, neck, hands. The Husband in a tuxedo. Dapper. Swashbuckling. The stuff Gentlemen are made of. A wedding with a handful of guests. A simple wedding on the Beach. We look at each other, when no-one else is looking. Stolen glances. Of what is to come at Night. Tingling flesh at places where He touches me. Goosebumps.
A red-tiled house next to the sea. Walls that were white once. A long time ago. Now yellowed. With Blue Window frames. The 'For Sale' sign. And me clasping my hands together. My mouth a swollen pout 'Oh, I wish'. He melts at the sight of my pout. Kisses me. And surprises me with the papers.
I potter around the house. Exploring its secrets. Locked rooms. Rusty locks. Boarded up windows. The occupants of the house come to inspect me. The bats hanging limply, upside down. The fat squirrel stealing nuts from out kitchen. The stray dog, that barks every time I try to go to it. Then comes sniffing when I hide the fish heads behind my back. Fero. I have named it. Ferocious hero. Fero. Then I discover it is a bitch. I call it Fero anyways. Now she doesn't leave my side.
Outside, I go for long walks. Breathing in the warm salty balmy air. I take big mouthfuls of it. Gulping in. The sea-gulls don't mind me looking into their nests. Smooth round eggs jut out. Then hatch open. Quivering little open beaks. Always open. Sometimes I help the exhausted parents by leaving steamed rice next to the nests. Mussels and cockles under my feet. Squished crab shell remains. Sometimes fish guts spilled out. I squirm, while Fero licks them off.
How I love the Sea. I point out the boats to my unborn child. Speak to it. Mutter. Mock-scold. Laugh. Drag my feet on the sand. On the pebbles. Write out baby names with my toe. Then watch the sea wipe them away. Scoop out mud to form little puddles of sea water. Delighted I pretend they are my numerous resorts. Think of the time when I think, our baby was conceived. Here, on this very beach, next to this rock. An impromptu act of Love. A time when my husband was still my husband, not a sculptor. Or of the time at Art College. How I met him trying to photograph me. 'I'm a sculptor, You can't stop me getting inspired by you' he had said. Two months of Euphoria and then the Brass Ring for my Finger. The Question to which I said simply 'Yes'.
In the mornings, I wake up to him already working on his stone figures. A steaming mug of coffee by his side. Which I replace every two hours as instructed. Day in day out. There are times when he comes out to me. To me. Brief glimpses of his uncut beard, unkempt hair. Smelling of stones, pebbles, sand. Hard knotted gnarled hands. From hours of smoothing out firm buttocks. He comes to me to claim his nocturnal rights as a husband. At other times he comes to me when he realizes that there is another sculpture in the house which breathes, moves, thinks. His wife. It is important for him that I don't disturb him. He is preparing for the Exhibition at the National Gallery. He has only seven months to complete his works. At least fifty sculptures, out of which they will select only fifteen, and I have ideas for only six. I do not have anything to lead me on, he explains to me. I nod. I understand. And so I do not say anything to him. About how Lonely I am. How I want someone to share the Incredible Joy of having a living thing inside your body. A living being.
I do not complain. This is what I have already accepted. Being an artist's wife is completely different from being anyone else's wife. It leaves me free to do my own things, I console myself.

'Guess what?' My husband says. 'We have a guest. Just to keep you company.' 'Like a Pet?' I ask, wide-eyed. 'You will see'. he trails off, leaving me in Delicious suspense.
Then Shayon arrives. My husband's cousin. I have not heard of him. Do not know him. He arrives with a battered brown suitcase and a duffel bag. This one smells suspsiciously like an artist. I say to myself. And yes, as proof he points at the crates he has left in the porch. I roll my eyes. He laughs. I notice that his deep furrows run around his nose and mouth then.
My husband discovers he is a human being and can socialize. He opens the wine bottles and then the men disappear into the cave that is his studio. Talk to the stone figures.
Later in the night, I show Shayon to his room. Make his bed for him. He comes out of the bath. Wet. Smelling of Manhood. His hair small whorls on his chest and arms. I look away.
We unpack his crates in the outhouse. That is where he will work. Paintings. Half-finished. Varnished. Paint-Brushes. Easel stands. Aprons. All smelling of paints, oils, turpentine. 'I will paint you.' He tells me. Simply. Out of the Blue. I scamper away.
Later, much later, I would remember that day. That sentence. The way he looked me in the eye.And said it.
Days pass. I show Shayon my Favourite place on the Beach. He accompanies me on my daily walks on the coast. He loves the songs I sing. The stories I tell. the idle chatter I fling at the rocks, the palm fronds. He laughs at me. catches my palm and tugs at it, while we are scooping out mud. I am drawn. Like a moth to the light. The same spot where my husband n I conceived our child. The very spot where my husband and I had held hands and spoken of the Star-riddled nights to come. Shayon and I. And the child in my belly, wedged in between. Sand in our bellybuttons. Sand in our hair. And we walk home. Unashamed. 'Did you enjoy your walk?', my husband asks. I nod. Scuttle away to the kitchen.
And then it happens again. And again. On the Beach. In the Outhouse. Once in the coconut grove. And we later laughed, what if the coconuts had fallen on our heads? Laughed.
I am Alive. Again. Shayon paints me. My Husband admires the paintings. Laughs. Thumps Shayon on the back and shuts himself in his Studio.
Idyllic existence for six months. My Husband is ready for the Exhibition. My baby will be at my Breast next month. I'm Big. And I waddle instead of walking. Shayon imitates my gait. We laugh. Today my husband will show us his works. Forty-five of them. I fetch the Champagne from the Cellar. Walk into the studio. Where he has uncovered each sculpture.
Freeze. All forty-five sculptures are of Shayon and I. Here we are near the Rock. There, under the Grove. My Rounded Belly of Stone. Shayon's hands of Stone. This one is of us walking. Hand in hand. That one of Shayon painting me. The last of this Morning. As we kissed at the Pier.
'Aren't they beautiful?' my husband asks Shayon.
'Yes, the best I have seen from you. I bet they will all be sold out within the first hour. You know where and how to find inspiration. If I hadn't agreed to your plan, where would U have been, mate? Now your turn to inspire me for my Series of Paintings. Bring on the Champagne. Eh, What do you think, Liz?' Shayon turns to me.
I clutch at my Swollen Belly. Blink at them.


monty said...

oh oh! thats some twist!!! :) :)

Shilpa Nair said...

:) Blame it on my twisted dark mind :(

Sagnik Biswas said...

I can only say one thing, WOW!
You do think up a lot, dont u! - Sagnik...:)

Shilpa Nair said...

Thanks Sagnik,
N Yes, I do think up, but not in the way others do...My Thoughts tumble and dash... :)

Karan said...

Something to think about . Good write.

the critics said...

yeah blame it on your twisted dark mind...nice

Enchanta said...

You see, I am addicted now.
I don't know what to say.

I am spellbound and the ideas you weave are driving me crazy with fondness for the writer in you!