Friday, September 21, 2007

The Artist

‘Unnuda ponnu romba sowbhagyavathi ma’, the astrologer predicted, looking at her little daughter’s hand. Varalakshmi was thrilled. Aha. Oho. She’d given birth to a girl who would be the recipient of good luck. Who knew, maybe some of it would rub off on her, the mother, as well. Maybe she’d get an excellent job when she became an adult, earn lots of money and give her poor old mother some jewellery and pattu sarees every now and then. After all, she was the one who brought her into the world, illiya. Of course her daughter would be grateful, in addition to being lucky and intelligent and pretty and smart.

Then he added, in Tamil, ‘She is going to be an artist.’ Varalakshmi’s forehead filled with furrows as she wondered what art her daughter was going to be proficient at. She’d get the best bharatanatyam, classical singing and painting teachers for her immediately. The younger you teach them, the better, is what most people said. OK, so it wasn’t going to be a job that her daughter would excel at. Who wanted a job anyway? That Padmavathi Amma’s daughter went to her fancy office every day and look what happened? She married a Punjabi. They all had those big turbans on their heads all the time., and someone told her the men all had long hair! And some of them ate non-veg also. Ayyo! Good thing her daughter was going to be an artist. She would be a world-renowned bharatanatyam exponent maybe. Tour the world and be written about in the papers. And in her press conferences she would acknowledge the hard work her mother had put into making her the star she was. She would win awards and cash prizes. And she would get lots of pattu sarees and jewellery as gifts from her admirers which she would pass on to her mother because she wouldn’t need so many. Varalakshmi smiled proudly.

Yes, that’s what she would do. She had to find the best dance, music and painting teachers for her daughter immediately. There was no time to be lost.

Fifteen years later, Varalakshmi picked up the newspaper that the paper boy had thrown on their doorstep, as he had been doing for years now. She adjusted the glasses on her nose and read slowly.

'Con Artist makes away with jewellery worth Rs. 50 lakhs:
A female con artist succeeded in robbing a jewellery shop today in broad daylight. The woman had been alienated from her parents for the last two years and was living in a hostel in Mandaveli. Her mother, Varalakshmi, is a housewife….'

Varalakshmi fainted.

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