This piece of art painted by my mother has adorned the living room of our house in Nainital for as long as I can remember.
There is something about this painting that attracts everyone. For me, it was the lady’s eyes…
I was terrified when I noticed that her eyes follow me everywhere. I tried sitting in the corner of the room, near the book shelf, on the couch, on the carpet near the center table. I even sat on that cane chair, which our little fur puppy was a proud owner of, but nothing helped, her gaze followed me everywhere.
Finally I confided in my little sister, who must have been 4 at the time, only three years younger to me. To my surprise, she told me that the lady stared at her too!!
One evening, we decided to solve the mystery by sitting at two different corners of the room. After a few minutes of wondering and waiting, I was tired because my sister continued to argue that the lady was staring at her, while I knew the lady was obviously staring at me..! The lady was continuously looking towards her right, where I sat, which was far away from where my sister was sitting..! Was my sister trying to play along thinking I was lying to her? Was my sister of 4 mocking me? Did she not believe that I was being haunted by this lady’s eyes!
I wrote it all in my journal. I wrote how much I hated the woman in the painting and how no one believed me! I wrote how I couldn’t sit in the same room because the lady watches everything, even when I take my puppy from his cane chair and place him on the couch where he is not allowed because he sheds hair. She watches and judges and stares right at me when I spill milk on the carpet and let it dry and then spray perfume on it.
I was so annoyed that I finally told my mother about the horrendous woman she had painted and that the painting needs to go out of the house right away. She laughed.!! Wow! Now my mother also thinks I’m lying..! Why was no one believing me! Am I adopted? Did they really pick me up from the road side? I stared to cry.
It was then, that mom held me close and explained to me the science behind it. I felt better and then I ran to my sister to tell her that she was right, that lady was actually staring at her all this while. I told her that mom confided in me and told me the real story behind that painting. I told her that the lady in the picture was no one but her mother who hated her and the boy was her brother who despised her and that is why we adopted her and brought her back with us. For days, I sat back and watched as she narrated this tale to all the kids in the neighbourhood. I took pleasure in seeing their eyes open wide with surprise and then promising to each other how they’d never enter that room! Stupid little kids, I thought!
With time, all the children learnt the science behind the painting I guess because they resumed coming over and the painting did not seem to bother them at all. With time, all of us forgot about the lady and her son.
Now when I go home, and see this paining still hanging at the same spot in our living room, I feel how calm and at peace her life looks as she separates the wheat from the chaff and the boy helps her or just plays around her while she continues with her routine..
I made up so many stories in my mind of the lady and the boy in this picture.. Stories that changed over the years with my changing emotions…