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        Volume 11 |Issue 36| September 14, 2012 |


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In Retrospect

Growing up with Dickens and Oils

Fayza Haq

Shulekha Chaudhury, Shimanto 3, acrylic on canvas, 2011.

As we get on in the journey of life it is inevitable to recall moments from one's younger days. Oh what fun it was to be young! Sitting with my siblings on the terrace listening to my mother read the leather bound translation of Dickens' was one of the best experiences one could imagine. While Mum read, Dad tended the terrace garden with a watering can - adding to the idyllic scene of tranquility and harmony. We did not hanker after Trollope or Jane Austin... we didn't even know of them at that stage. The Bronte sisters were unknown to us. We were content with what was being read out—sitting cross-legged, devouring every word of Great Expectations, Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, with endless pleasure. Reading, and having books read to me was always a joy as a child. It was at that stage that I learnt too of “petit – fours” and such French food that brought water to the tongue. In our youth, Mum made delicious cakes in steel containers that were immersed in dekchis. Such was life. Coming home we could smell the scent of scrumptious biscuits made from peanuts, sugar and ordinary wheat mixed with eggs would lure us to the kitchen where we were greeted with more goodies - Jello puddings, layers of them, in different colours on caramel custard!

Learning the notes on the piano may not have been that easy. Being quizzed on Tolstoy's Anna Karenina by eager uncles, waiting to reach teenage was not bad, considering the lovely belted frocks that went with the experience. The cream on coffee voice of Eartha Kitt, whose records were being played by elder siblings, prevented you from concentrating on the Maths tuitions and would surely take its toll in the form of a missed first position and silent sniffles on the terrace, all by oneself.

In my teens, leaving school, and being kissed by my friends in the school leaving party was a big event for me. I wore a sari and my mother's black and red shoes made me feel ten feet tall and perhaps a like million dollars too.

Then came the best years of my life - the university years. Getting good grades in Arts was a boost - everything was quite merry and fun even when one was faced with the complexities of the Greek Tragedies. In retrospect it was all a big lark, not to be forgotten or belittled.

Each item, connective with my youth spoke of great joy.The art classes in my school days brings memories of trees, cobbled streets, and Victorian lights, which I loved painting. It was in my school days that I began my oils, and this too meant relaxation, and endless satisfaction. Today I love to write on paintings as this comes easily to me and lends me vicarious pleasure.

Today interest in artists, provides me fodder for my writing, and do I enjoy this! Painters and paintings have always given me endless joy, whether they are from my home country or some other part of the subcontinent.


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