If I was an Egyptian queen, I'd have an extremely short list of things I'd want to follow me into the black of beyond. Number one would be this little portrait done of his mom by Anant when he was about three and half years old.
It has weathered a lot, first just flapping around in a file. Then being framed proudly along with 2-3 other sketches, one of a seven-headed Ravana (three heads are at the back, Mamma), his perspective of a Formula One car as seen on TV, and a cheerful red train, thanks to the advice of a cartoonist who dropped into the house one day. I've forgotten his name, but am eternally grateful for his intervention, without which they would still be languishing in a folder like countless others produced by the resident artist. He had a theory about how it boosts the young artist's confidence and encourages them, and added that he had done the same for his nephews. And so these originals have adorned the walls, occasionally being shifted from one wall to another. A change is as good as a feast, as someone said.
About the portrait...I thought it is a rather gentle rendering, bringing to mind a certain friendly ghost, maybe because I was always hovering about? If you are keen-sighted and spotted the artist's signature at the bottom, and wondered whether we had a precocious genius on our hands, well, the truth is simpler. About two years ago, during his cricket craze phase, Anant broke the glass of this portrait with the cricket ball, and during this time, he made use of the opportunity to scrawl his name prominently across the bottom. Short-sighted me never noticed for days, and then I was terribly annoyed. My question was very simple and I started out by saying: "how do you expect people to believe that you did this when you were about three when ....blah blah blah...." and then I gave up. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered except that it was STILL his portrait of ME, and he had the artistic licence to do what he wanted with it. (Besides, he did colour coordinate the signature.)
Now that Anant is in some kind of tribal art phase, and is currently "experimenting" with the Warli style now, we read up something about this particular form of art.
In one write-up on the Internet, it was mentioned that the triangle, circle and square feature in this form; however only the triangle and circle are shapes found in nature, for instance mountains, leaves, the sun, etc. I wonder -- is that why we think of urban landscapes or man-made environments in terms of "boxes" and rectangular shapes rather than something more fluid and organic?
Anyway, coming back to the said portrait, it is interesting that the triangle was prominent in his very first "articulate" portrait as well. Anybody with even the slightest interest in understanding how children perceive things and how they learn would be interested in such milestone drawings (if not all of them). Having said that, it was the broad (triangular) smile that astonished me the most though. I always thought I was a rather grim and forbidding person, and with a toddler on my hands and working, often anxious about a gazillion different things. A prosaic reason could be that at around three years he just didn't have as much control over his little starfish fingers then as he does now, and the smile ended up so big and cheesy. But being the subject of this portrait, I have my own spin on it. He and I secretly knew that my broadest smile was reserved then and will be reserved for always for my little boy. Just like that of any mother across the world. Happy Children's Day !