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The Paintbrush #JusJoJan 2023

Hello! I’ve decided to join in on Just Jot it January hosted by Linda G. Hill. Today’s prompt is “paintbrush” by Paula.

The set of twelve acrylic colors had been on her mind all night. A set of rainbow with a black and a white. Slender tube colors packed into a neon yellow cardboard box. Sumitra recalled the scent of the colors, fresh out of the pot. There always was that subtle whiff of the distemper in the art room at school and in her own room.

Maa often quipped that she had been born with a golden paintbrush clenched between her fingers. Her little artist. As a child, Sumitra derived great pleasure drawing with crayons on the walls. At school, she won prizes in Art Competitions. In college, she strove to get that art degree. And she had. Until she had realised what a struggle it would be to make a living out of that degree.

As Sumitra’s hopes had dimmed, she had chosen to relinquish that passion. A practical woman, she could admit a fault when it was due. The rest of her life was occupied by quiet domesticity. Husband, children, in-laws. The cycle of life that was the duty of every house wife. Could she have made progress with her talents?

Sumitra had no answer.

In fact, she hadn’t touched a paintbrush since marriage. She had taught what she could to the children she had borne. The trophies and certificates she had earned were locked up in a dusty cupboard in her maternal home. Sumitra did not miss them.

Her old canvas paintings, the size of a hand-span hung from the walls of their house, but no one looked at them. Birds were Sumitra’s speciality. A purple sunbird draining a petunia. An Indian peacock with its feathers preened. A petulant mynah on a telephone wire.

Oh, its something Maa painted long ago. She was an artist you know.

She had cut herself off from this medium. When Nita had brought a set of acrylic paint and paintbrushes, her curiosity had deepened.

“Do you want to take up painting?” Sumitra asked her daughter.

“No. They are for you. You used to paint, right? I thought now that you are retired, you may want to pick that up. Many retired women take up some hobby when they have free time. I figured painting would give you some joy.”

Sumitra had been befuddled by her daughter’s reply.

That early morning Sumitra’s feet had wended their way to the cupboard in her bedroom. The box of paints was still there. A pack of 4 x 4 blank canvases. A plastic pallete. A set of long handled, white bristled paintbrushes. Her fingers roamed across the instruments lovingly.

Despite the activity in the house, for the youngsters rushed to their respective work, Sumitra set up the paints and canvas. She gripped the drawing pencil unsurely. Maybe this was a fool’s errand.

A sparrow perched onto one of the grills beside the bedroom window and twittered. The curtains were open and plenty of early morning light enabled her to see clearly. Her eyesight was not good, nor were her hands steady as the graphite made strokes on the canvas.

Yet Sumitra felt as light as a bird. A smile spread slowly across her face. It was a start. When she exchanged the pencil for the paintbrush and the familiar scent of acrylic over-powered her senses, she felt the supreme confidence.

A footfall echoed behind her. A cup of steaming chai materialized onto the nightstand. Nita placed it gingerly, trying not to make a sound.

“Thanks, Maa.” Sumitra replied automatically.

The years were falling away and she was a young woman again.

The prompt inspired me to write this flash-fiction. Thanks for reading πŸ’•


Published by Aboli Mane

Poet. Writer. Blogger. I post short reads, and poetry on A Writer In The Room. I published my debut poetry book "An Aster's Solitude" in 2019. Currently: Writing my first novel, an animal fantasy in a fictional world. Follow me to keep yourself updated.

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