Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Artist

He sat before me with stark brown eyes that reminded me of a wooden cottage on a mountaintop. They distracted me from the grimy glass of beer that I held quite firmly, as if to anchor myself to some dirty truth and not float away into fantasy-land with this beautiful artist as he spoke to me about Dali and the Impressionists. I nodded and added occasionally to the conversation, but for the most part I stared and marveled at his dreadlocks, at the charcoal that tattooed his fingernails, at the slight nicotine stains on his incisors, and at his brown eyes that hid behind the dark curtains of secrecy that his lashes truly were.
I asked him to show me some of his drawings, and he very promptly obliged, pulling out a big green book from his bag.
A surge of excitement ran through me as I opened this book; I had been a fan of his work for a long time now. He drew women, naked and faceless, crouching and standing; and some men, fewer in comparison, with looks of anguish and dissatisfaction on their faces. They were all beautiful but also disturbing, and for a few moments, I was quite speechless. It is one thing to see works of art hide behind frames and hang around museum walls, but to hold something so exquisite in your own hands, and to be able to touch it, feel it, is quite another. I realized that he was probably getting bored while I was obsessing over (and losing myself) in this magnetic book of art which he so casually declared to be 'nothing great'.
I turned my attention back to the beer and tried to kick-start another conversation which would perhaps make me sound less like a fan-girl and a little more like a sane human being. I talked about mundane things, I remember; something like my new job or my plans for my future or about the countries I have visited. He listened intently, which made my cynical self wonder silently-was he already bored of this regular girl sitting in front of him, with her incessant diatribe about her life, or was the alcohol already carrying him to a happier, more elevated state of mind where the spoken word was heard only when desired...?
He stared at me as I spoke, with intermittent jabs at the beef steak that sat in front of him. Every now and then he apologized about his steak, repeatedly asking me if I minded his carnivorous ways.
I told him that I didn't, and I looked right into his eyes when I said so.
There was a distinct moment, even in that alcohol fueled conversation, when I knew that we were both looking hard at each other. I knew at that very instance that I would go home and write about this man. 
I'm not sure if I was emboldened by the beer or whether it was a case of verbal diarrhea where my thoughts turned into audible words, but I asked him to draw me someday. I had always dreamed of seeing myself from the eyes of another, and here was a man who could make my dream come true. 
He nodded and agreed to do so, warning me of the long hours that I'd probably have to pose for as he drew me.
As we drained our mugs and finally parted ways, I was certain that he would never draw me and that the next time we would meet would probably be a chance encounter at a bus stop or a traffic signal. I made peace with the fact that there remained, thus, a poetic romance that made this evening encounter something to remember and reminisce over when I was a crazy old lady living with fifty cats.
A few days later, however, to my complete and utter befuddlement, I checked my email to see two portraits of myself that he had mailed me. They were beautiful and dark and had an irrefutable similarity to me that wasn't as apparent as a photograph would be, but was certainly very solidly there. The angle of my nose, my annoyingly stubborn hair that always hides my right eye, the jagged edges of my irises-he captured all this in these portraits. It made me blush somehow when I realized how much about me he had noticed while I sat there in front of him, mentally beating myself up about possibly boring him to death with my unending rant about love, life and art.
I was happy and shiny all day, thanks to this amazingly talented genius of a man who had taken one thing off my bucket list; I had now successfully been immortalized into a piece of art (thankfully not by myself).
I realized, with an understanding that dawned on me in a slow slither, that we were both looking for inspiration in that shady old bar when we swallowed our cheap beer that evening. Thieves, hunting for ideas, who went their separate ways, content with the knowledge that they got what they came for. 
Every writer needs a muse to wrench their insides and squeeze out some words from their gut so that when ink meets paper, it isn't a complete disaster. Today, he would be my muse, and I hoped that I'd do him justice.

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