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Today I was reminded of a day long back, when the Second Born (who is now a concept artist) and I sat down to paint. We had a white paper each, our brushes, water, the mixing tray and the water colors, and we painted, he following my example, not that I asked him to, he always wanted to do whatever I did. Yup, he thought I was the cat’s whiskers in everything back then, as also the best singer and the most beautiful woman on earth. Ahhh, children!

Anyway, we both ended up painting the same picture. There were trees (Trees! I always end up drawing/painting trees), a road and grass, and of course some black flecks in the sky to one corner of the picture which were the mandatory ‘birds flying in the sky’.


When we were done, I looked at both our ‘paintings’ lying side-by-side and wrinkled my brows. Mine looked all cautious and full of controlled lines. Just like me, I thought, always trying to do the right thing, thinking everything through and through beforehand so as to not make any mistake ever and have someone criticize you for going out of line. His painting on the other hand looked free spirited, untutored, the lines not clear cut, but melding into each other and creating an effect of spontaneity. He was only 6 or 7 at the time and nobody had ever tried to beat him into shape to fit preconceived molds.

The son of course liked the one I made. In his eyes it was ‘neater,’ had no color running out of its assigned place. But what did he know that that was what made a child’s painting such a delight. Suffice to say we both were dissatisfied with our own creations and admired the other one’s.

Another thing I remember about the day was how he tried to paint the same ‘birds flying in the sky’ in one corner, just like I had. But while trying to make the fine lines to with the brush, he ended up with one blob of sorts. This disappointed him even more. He already felt his painting was not good enough, the blob further spoilt it for him and he was despondent. When his brother returned from school later in the day and pronounced the blob looked like a lion jumping in the sky he didn’t think it was funny at all.

It’s amazing how disappointments turn to fun topics of conversation in later years. The topic of flying lion made him smile in the years that followed, and also us. And imagine, here I am today after many years, almost two decades in fact, writing about it.


Today I went through the carefully conserved odds and ends in the file I keep, hoping to share the picture here, but could not find the one I was looking for. There was my own painting, and others made by the Second Born, and some craft-work done by *Mommy* and him (his pet name has been blackened out as I am sure he wouldn’t want the whole world to know of it), a lot of test papers from school, and much to my delight, a couple of cartoons made by the First Born (which fact had entirely slipped my mind with him being a programmer now and the younger being the one associated with art). The painting with the flying lion blob was conspicuous by its absence. I only hope he hadn’t got fed up of living inside a file in a dark cupboard and has flown off to the jungle taking the painting along. 

©Shail Mohan 2016