Sunday, December 30, 2007

Vincent's moonflower

Yellow, was the colour that was splashed till the edge of the horizon. This vast sunflower farm was in full bloom right next to the river. The breeze tickled yellow ripples & the wind ruffled yellow waves in this vast ocean of yellowness. Such magnificence lay spread in this remote village of Amsterdam, that no artist could have resisted the urge to be here and paint the canvas yellow. These sunflowers were the yellow-equivalents of daffodils that had evoked such a strong outburst of joy in Wordsworth.

A painter did indeed visit this farm often. Villagers called him Vincent. He acted a bit strange. He seemed engrossed in thought, looked shabby, cared little for his attire or for food and was often depressed, wonder why! He also looked frail & unhealthy due to his ignorance, but little did he care. A short tree besides the river cast some shade & served as an ideal spot for the painter to setup his wooden-stand & unfurl his canvas over it. Master strokes of yellow paint were cast over this canvas with such finesse! Some bold, some subtle, some pure, some shaded, some smooth, some broken, some distinct, some overlapped. All in all, they rendered such a magnificent effect that often one couldn't tell what was more adorable... the farm or the canvas!

Vincent, was a little known artist of that time and was often cash-stricken. He relied heavily on his brother for expenses and support. He went thru' acute bouts of depression. People felt that his solitude & unreciprocated loves aggravated his suicidal tendencies. He befriended the prostitutes and quarreled with his kith. Very few realized the value of his work and the calibre of the artist within him. Not many befriended him as all that they saw, was that he was different.

A sunflower bud right next to Vincent's tree acted weird too. It had been quite a few days since its birth but it hadn't bloomed. It looked pale & white. Most felt it was stillborn but her mother was wishful. The neighbouring sunflowers sympathized with her father who had nearly given up hope. These sympathies became a burden upon her mother whose hopes hadn't died just yet & she didn't let these sympathies overweigh her spirit. Everyday she prayed her heart out to the sun-god for her daughter's well-being.

The sunflowers have been ardent devotees of the sun. So much so that they all wake up to the first golden rays of the dazzling orange disc rising over the horizon. They are so awe-struck by this yellow ball that they seem to ignore everything else! They follow it's path right till it gets incandescent-white overhead at noon & then mellows to it's yellow & soothing orange as it sets in the west. The sunflowers detest the night, as it engulfs their god. Over time, they have grown superstitious & tabooistic regarding the night. The night, they believe, brings evil spirits & the moon & stars are friends of the devils as they appear when their god is away. The night belongs to the demons, they believe, and all droop and sleep tight till the next morning when their god once again salvages them from their cold slumber.

One night, the mother sunflower woke up to the soft melodious words being hummed next to her ear. At first she was startled as she too was wary of the spirits of the night, but was courageous enough to open her eyes. To her joy, her little bud had bloomed & was singing! It seemed as though all her prayers had finally been answered. The moonlit bud seemed awe-struck by the moon as she sang to him. Now this was queer! "Sleep, sleep child" patted the mother in vain as the little moonflower hummed all night. She was different!

The next morning all the fresh dew-sprinkled sunflowers tossed their heads up and marvelled at their god, whilst the pale white moonflower was fast asleep. But her mother was happy that she wasn't stillborn but was different. She marvelled at the moon instead of the sun, that's all. Soon, word of mouth spread and all sunflowers got to know about the weird habits of this moonflower. She seemed to grab more attention than the priests of that farm!

The elders felt defied. They were the most stringent advocates of the sun-god & would not tolerate the birth of any other deity or any other religion. "What's a moon, Pa?", enquired another young sunflower who received a tight slap on his cheeks. "There's only a sun", replied the disgruntled father. By now, the elders grew wary of their younger generation questioning their beliefs & feared that they would stray along the forbidden paths. They decided to stay awake that night & see for themselves the queer behaviour of the moonflower.

It was a glorious full-moon night & a spectacular moon loomed over the horizon. The stars looked like pearls strewn over black velvet. The delicate twinkling of the stars was occasionally rivaled by the soft sparkles of stray glow-worms. It was glorious, but the sunflowers were conditioned to hate it! As expected, the moonflower woke up & sang the prettiest of words a poet could pen. To everyone's surprise, the same artist was there that night too as he painted 'The starry night'. All looked on as the two master artists poured out their art that night. One sang whilst the other painted. But all that the sunflowers saw was that they were different! These artists were good for nothing burdens & seemed to have a bad influence on their ingenious younger generation. How they wished both were dead!

The next morning a meeting was called by the sunflower priest to determine the fate of the rebellious moonflower. The moonflower, as usual, lay drooped & fast asleep. The priest accused her of defying their sun-god and converting to a parallel religion. He also alleged that the good-for-nothing depressed painter had an evil influence on her & thus she was squandering her life away in the pursuit of worthless poetry. Such people are a burden to the ingenious society & deserve to be taught a lesson! He emphasized that the moonflower had brought disgrace to their community. "What punishment do you'll recommend?" asked the priest with the grandeur of a moral-policeman! "Cull, cull", yelled the thoughtless gullible mob. The 'honour-killing' of the moonflower was executed that afternoon, much to the wails of her inconsolable mother.

The painter too never returned to that sunflower farm again. News was that the depressed bloke had shot himself in the chest and had succumbed to his injuries. An artist was culled, whilst the other had killed himself. The world had been relieved of two burdens to mankind.

Peace and honour seemed to have been finally restored in that sunflower farm. All sunflowers got back to the rituals of their religion as they tossed their heads up and marvelled at their magnificent sun-god. A major cultural calamity had been averted by the considerate elders and order had been reinstated. Everything seemed to be back in harmony. Yellow, was the colour that was splashed till the edge of the horizon.

Acknowledgments - 
Painting illustration - Jonathan Wold (


Sandeep Khadilkar said...

another superb article saggy !!!!
gosh i envy ur imagination ... keep it up !!!

love ...

Sando :)

Sagar Bhanagay said...

Thanks, Sando :). U r my only audience :D

Rachit Awasthi said...

not true yaar .. mujhe mat bhool!

Sagar Bhanagay said...


Preeti Edul said...

Sweet! I liked it! You seem to have a thing for drawing an analogy between two themes. OK, I hate to say this but starry night was not painted in a field in Amsterdam. I am also not very sure if he painted any sunflowers there… I think that was in Arles…Yeah I know… it is just a story… you were just being creative... shoot me!

Sagar Bhanagay said...

Very good observation, Preeti. But I wasn't suggesting that he was painting sunflowers in 'The Starry Night'. He was painting the sky, of course. Regarding the place... it's called "author's license" ;-)

Preeti Edul said...

I was not suggesting that you suggested that he painted sunflowers in the starry night! Geez no.. I meant neither did he paint the starry night in Amsterdam nor did he paint any Sunflowers there… where is my red marker…

Preeti Edul said...

It is a lovely post ! I love it ! forgive me !

Sagar Bhanagay said...

Lol! Cute :-)