The Heart Wants What It Wants

A perfect heart had been drawn very gently on the watercolour paper. There I was, a brush, with my hairs loaded with copious amounts of water and a dash of red paint, waiting eagerly to fill and give meaning and life to the sketch. They are translucent upon drying because of which the colours look paler. Build up the intensity of the watercolour, slowly and patiently. Wait for it to dry. After it dries, take two dabs of paint and a lesser amount of water, each time. This process continues until the desired brightness is achieved. Paint, dry, load up the brush and repeat.

What am I doing? Rushing the process, reloading myself with paint and water and hurriedly filling the heart with the colour of blood. Why has this sudden obsession to complete the masterpiece propped into my head? Well, I have found the perfect watercolour paper for myself and have started fantasizing about all the masterpieces that I will be creating on it. I would be creating… Shouldn’t it be “we would be creating”?

I have been made to make unsatisfactory brush strokes on a hundred sheets of paper to create art by the force above me. I was not entirely sad about my pieces; it was rather a friendly encounter with all of them. The hand that held me would eventually either run out of paper and would simply bring a new kind of paper each time. After probably 15 years of painting, a little joyfully, a little gloomily, I was presented with yet another paper. During my first interaction with him, I was a little surprised. Somehow, he took the right amount of time to absorb water, gave the right kind of texture to the painting and gave the right brightness to the colours after drying. Over time, I gradually met him more often and we practised basic brushstrokes and watercolour techniques to understand each other. Over time, our work progressed in terms of quality.

One day, my master kept me in a jar of water and took a pencil out and sketched the heart, very carefully. I could guess that it was going to be my first painting with him, a unique one as it was monochromatic, a rosy red colour waiting to fill the area within the graphite. I, however, turned a blind eye to how the paper responded to the graphite of my master’s pencil. Until then, we used only paints and water without much pre-planning. For some reason, he, the paper, didn’t accept pencil’s lead due to its texture and it resulted in ugly patches of grey along the outline. I thought I could fix it with my enchanting magic of paint. This was where the trouble started.

Back to the painting. I never waited enough. I would frantically try to brighten places that were already waiting to be dried up and not bothering to cover up the imperfections of my colour on the perfectly drawn heart.

He was beginning to resist. He stopped absorbing the water, not in the way I wanted him to. The ugly grey patches were still visible through the red translucent paint. Did I bother to stop, and see the entire picture? Well, no. He simply didn’t care.

I would constantly keep cursing myself for not having drawn the perfect brush stroke without realising that a masterpiece is possible only when every entity cooperates. Harsh brush strokes were all over the place and I began to lose the hairs from my ferrule. I went mad, hurt myself, lost myself and him. I was furious. I stopped caring about the entire picture.

The paper was extremely soggy, waiting to tear anytime to let me know that our toxicity needed a huge full stop. I was not ready for this. No! Not soon! How could he not try to create just one masterpiece with me?

Once again, holding excessive amounts of water and no paint, I started releasing water with immense anger and poof! I was baffled. The remaining water was slowly trickling down as angry and painful bloody tears, one drop at a time. I was horrified by the result. A huge hole was created in the middle of the heart. Red water was bleeding through the paper, onto the floor.

What had I done? A sin? To myself, him or both? Tears were still rolling by and passing right through that hole. For how long was I to weep? Was it all my fault? As cliche as it may sound, time heals everything and I was no exception.

Now I am as dry as a dead leaf, crumbled and devoid of any joy, lying on the floor. The soggy paper has dried and I took one last look at what we had done to ourselves. A bleeding heart with hints of red paint all over the sheet. Grey patches looked blacker than ever and the hole a bit smaller than before. What was shocking was the number of hairs that had dried up along with the paint making the whole effort of painting nasty.

I told myself, “Never do this to anyone again.” I kept looking away and wondering if it could have worked had I been patient. I plunged myself into an endless loop of self-doubt.

Upon retrospection, it hit me that I had failed to see him interacting with another brush, probably meant for him. When I had got subtle signs in the past, I would envy the art pieces that would be imprinted on him and harmonious dance between them. Should I have tried to resort to simple strokes that made us happy and make peace with it? Should I forget and take only lessons to be learnt with a grain of sand? My imagination had to stop soon. It was not the time to wrap myself in remorse and regret. I hadn’t become completely unusable despite losing some hairs.

Suddenly, a couple of fingers lifted and put me back into a jar of clean water. The dried up paint slowly dissolved and I am stunning now, fresh. It doesn’t matter whether I will undergo such a rollercoaster anytime soon. It doesn’t matter how long they would be in harmony. It doesn’t matter whether I would get to work with him again. All that matters now is for me to accept myself, be patient and move on.

Swedha Sankaranarayanan

An inquisitive, over-thinking and math-loving creature who wants to have enough space for her own library and enough cash for travelling the world (including Antarctica).

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