“with immediacy and intensity, smell activates the memory, allowing our minds to travel freely in time.”
-Tom Robbins Jitterbug Perfume
© painting by Jofelyn M. Khapra
From the womb of her imagination all the Rajasthani girls are finally born. Resplendent in their vibrant dresses ready to live a life of their own waiting for the final coat of their glossy completion.
With the brush ready for the finishing glaze, the creator hesitated. The pain of separation already keenly felt. How can she let go of her babies whom she nourished with ambrosial hues in every stroke. Her brows contorted worrying about their destiny. Would they end up with an art loving couple or at the hands of a cold heart art dealer.
In what kind of house would they reside, she wondered. Would they hang comfortably above a warm fireplace to be contemplated upon. Or neglected gathering cobwebs in a dusty corner. Heaven forbid that they be nailed to a wall in a busy restaurant. Not a glimpse would come their way perhaps only absentminded stares accompanied by a cacophony of chomping jaws. She dreaded to think her girls displayed among the ornaments in the cold walls of a hotel. Just another piece of furniture.
A museum would be a fitting home for them where eyes who can, will really see them. But that’s too grand a dream for such humble beginnings. No, she can’t predict what kind of life her girls would live. Sighing, she abandoned the final stage of creation for the time being, trying to hold on to her girls a little while longer.
The Rajasthani girls are impatient to be born. But the creator pauses, arms tired and fingers aching. Outside a torrential cloudburst is pouring. The dog wakes up and begs for a tummy rub. The kettle is whistling. The brush goes back in the bottle and on the table the palette is discarded. The dog stretched and followed the creator in the kitchen. The unpainted Rajasthani girls grumbled seeing that they are now forgotten. ” Always the pretty ones get chosen first in everything.” With arms akimbo the girl in the center complained.
The dog wondered what happened to the tree. It was up there and now down here. He looked back and forth at the big tree and at the miniature version on the floor. He paced to and pro going around it. Sniffing curiously and assessing carefully.’ This will do.’ he thought. He raised one of his hind legs and peed on it.
Twin engines roared mightily into the desert and echoed all around disturbing the silence of no man’s land. Infinite sandy hills rolling in the distance. Cadmium yellow landscape contrasted by cobalt blue sky breaking the monotony. The wind hissed as it passed by me. I clung tightly on my husband’s waist. The vastness of the arid place threatened to engulf me. We rode on destination unknown. The desert whistled a lonely tune.Then all of a sudden it sprung into view. An oasis carved down below. My companions parked their muscular bikes. Standing by the cliff we wondered how can this fecundity thrives on this sterile land. Our eyes followed the water’s origin. An eternal flow of snow melting from the peaks of the Himalayan mountain breast feeding this garden of Eden.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
* I painted this landscape when we went on a bike trip to Ladakh in the Himalayas.