Wabi-sabi

2 min


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“You will all receive an hour. There will be a warning bell at 11.55 to signal the last five minutes. The papers will be taken away at the end of an hour. Wish you all the best.”

The examination hall was filled with the sounds of rustling papers in addition to the hum of the ceiling fans. The school room was dark and particularly uninspiring to be hosting an art examination. The students were appearing for the elementary art examination and the subject for that day was nature art.

Ravi looked at the sunflower he was provided with, to copy in his painting. It was nothing like the ones he had practiced on, during his art classes. The flower in his hand had begun to wilt into a sad brown shade at the edges of its petals. The stalk, a dull green, was bending desolately, with no strength to hold the inflorescence, once a brilliant yellow, though still beautiful in its senescence. 

“Remember that the flowers supplied for the examination may not necessarily be the freshest ones. So, memorise these details well. The examiners do not see the flower you receive. They only see what you put on your paper. Practice well now, so that you reproduce this beauty from memory, even if you are given no flower at all.”

Ravi’s art teacher’s words played in his mind as he began to sketch the outline of the flower. He, however, could not help staring at dying plant on his table. 

“The aim of nature drawing is to capture, in complete honesty and detail, the world around us.”  Complete honesty, yes. Ravi had always endeavoured towards capturing every little detail. He was, therefore, a favourite with his art teacher.

The students around him had already finished their wash coat of paint and were moving on the details. None of them bothered to glance at the specimen they were provided. 

Ravi was still busy with the head, stippling cautiously at the centre, when the warning bell rang. He had not worked on the stalk! His heart sinking, he ran to change the muddy brown water to start off with the greens. Within the next couple of minutes, the stalk was shaded well, but he could not get to the leaf as the clock struck twelve.

He blew over his sheet to dry the paint, as his gaze lingered on the specimen on the table. The invigilator collected all the papers without a glance at their contents and stacked them on the table.

Ravi silently pocketed the flower and walked out of the classroom.

***

A couple of decades later, Ravi stood in an opulent gallery, playing host to rich connoisseurs, as they admired his display. His eyes fell on an elderly gentleman who stood supported on a walking stick. He had a folder in his hand. Ravi’s art teacher turned and smiled at him. He opened the folder to show a wilting sunflower with a hastily painted stalk, marked with an A+. 

Glossary:

Wabi: (Japanese) The elegant beauty of humble simplicity; 

Sabi: (Japanese) Passing of time and subsequent deterioration

Wabi-sabi: Japanese art of impermanence

References:

 Japan’s Unusual Way To View The World by Lili Crossley Baxter

***

Photo By: Unsplash

This is an entry for the event #twelve #Five00-10 at ArtoonsInn Writers Room.

Find the event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/five00-10/

Event sponsored by The Archaic House

Are you a poet? Join ArtoonsInn Poetry Parlour here: www.poetryparlour.com

Join Poetry Parlour Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/poetryparlour/

Join various other rooms dedicated to art via www.artoonsinn.com


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