Life is full of contradictions and paradoxes. Here’s a personal account of Cholena. She tells us about the deep prejudices against art and artists when she was growing up. She also shares how she surmounted her problems and followed her natural inclination.
I have no clue as to when I had started taking an interest in drawing. However, I do remember getting hyped when it came to art classes in school. Art was always my favourite subject. I would doodle when lessons got boring and whenever I got caught by teachers, they would approach me with grouchy faces and looking at my work, they will encourage me to join art competitions. However, I didn’t think much of it at that time and brushed it off my mind as I had never considered myself a true artist.
Back at home when I slacked, with textbooks wide open on my desk, I would hide my little drawing pads under them and sketch. I didn’t believe that I had talent but if an image struck me, I had an undeniable urge to translate that image onto some piece of paper. Otherwise, I would not be able to sleep or concentrate on anything else.
When I was 8, my grandmother once visited us. I went without breakfast and lunch, drawn into my own world with canvas and paintings. In the evening, when my dad returned from work, my grandmother put an end to my precious hobby with all her nasty complaints. Every single drawing material was taken away from me and I was banned from drawing ever again. That didn’t deter me from drawing and painting though.
I was so desperate that I would use anything I could get my hands on…sticks, dried stems , burnt charcoal, burnt matchsticks, old toothbrushes…You name it. When I finally became a college student, I convinced my father to sign me up for art classes. It was a whopping 25 rupees a month and I had to do it through snail mail. Who was my dad? Well, my dad was a very strict person who loved to be in control of everything. And that was exactly why he made one condition, my art materials were all sent to his shop before he handed them over to me.
Every evening, on the way home from College, my first question would always be if I was sent anything. My obsession with drawings freaked out my dad so much that he once again, stopped me from drawing. And once again, banning me from my hobby didn’t work and I somehow found a way to draw. His reason was that I should concentrate on my studies. On top of that, he mentioned that very often, painters are unlucky until they die.
Years rolled by and I got my first phone with a camera feature. I started to quench my thirst for art by clicking photos that would remind me of how I would have painted them and every now and then, people would tell me that I should draw more. “You would make a great artist,” they would say. To that, I would just respond with a warm smile…. Because you see, I shouldn’t be called an artist.
Pix by author.