I dont know who paints the canvas of our memories. Whoever does so, actually paints it. He doesnot document events as they happen, he does not wait for them to happen with his brushes and colour pallete. He knows, he faces and thus paints it the way he wishes, the way his soul portrays it (the way he wants to narrate it to the rest of the world). He thus, in the course of painting doesnot think twice before rearranging the events to tell his story, or to make it seem interesting, exaggerate few events, while nullifying few.
This way, events occur in the outer world, while the canvas keeps filling with colours. There is a connection between the two, yet each of them exclusive in its portrayal.
We hardly find time to look into ourselves to see what colours have been splashed. But frequently do we refer to them, in our lives slowly, one after the other. But most of our events remain unattended at some corner of us. The artist who keeps painting, why he keeps painting, no one knows. No one knows whether the painting will ever be showcased in some exhibition. But he keeps his work on.
Someone, few years ago, asked me of one such memory.. and I had to visit his exhibition of paintings to find the answer. I thought, i will acquire two or perhaps four of such paintings and that shall suffice. But it is when I unlocked the door, that I understood, its not a documentation of what I have come across but an unseen artists hard work of years put together. The canvas’s are so filled with different colours, different brush strokes of different fashion, which is not entirely a reflection of what has happened. And thus, the canvases cannot be as good as evidences in the court.
These memory paintings shall be a very ineffective way to know a persons history. But the paintings are intoxicating, and the illusion won me over. When a traveller walks down the streets, or the nearby hotel where he puts up – then the street or the hotel is not a painting for the traveller, it is more than just a necessity and extremely real for them, but when the necessity gets over, when the traveller walked down the street and looks back, it seems as good as a painting to him. We walk, we toil the entire day from the dawn. When at the day end we come back to our home to look back, in the transient light of dusk we see it as a painting. Similarly, when I had to go through, I got illusioned and fascinated by the colours.
The curiosity that aroused, was it only for my own life and the general care/feelings laden with it? ..Amd yes, a little care has to be there, but the paintings attracts in their own right. Laksman showed Sita few paintings to amuse her, in UttamRamCharita, they are priceless as it has relation with Sitas’ own life… but are not the complete story.
Not one element of these memories are worth immortalisation. But literature doesnot depend on the graveness or the importance of the situation, the text that gets scripted… the art that gets painted. What we feel, our words should make the reader feel the same, and it shall be then only when it will be treasured. What I have in my own memory as a beautiful piece of art, it shall be regarded a piece of literature only when I translate it to words.
The following memory laden paintings can thus be literature, and not mistaken to be just fragments of my life. That way, my writing shall always seem incomplete and unnecessary.
[Translated from chapter one of Jibon smriti, written by Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. I translated this for my friends who doesnot know bengali, cannot read or refuse to read bengali 😀 I apologise for any mistake in the translation, but I kept it as close to the original as possible. You can download a pdf version of “Jiban Smriti” from clicking on this link .]