Which parables? (An Overture)
I intend to write mostly for growing minds.
It is a fiction with simple implicit symbols in parables. As simple as they are, one might just read through.
But my hope would be, gradually the growing minds would interpret them later or much later in their own ways, interconnecting the symbols with their own experiences in life.
Perhaps not the most successful of parables, hence my need to assist with a note.
The painting limns world history,
the painting itself has an apposite history
but it is no longer in existence,
except for replicas ....
Some time ago, a young man grew up in a decent modest household with his widowed mother. The house with all the furniture was marked with decay or stain, a living example of “rustic charm”. After our young man moved out for a career opportunity and became more than solvent, he expressed his desire to refurbish the old house. His mother, with various excuses avoided such notion, she wanted the house to remain as she had been wedded into the house. Any change; her world of memories would be rippled.
During his childhood, mother read the bed time stories with Alyonushka and Ivanushka, as his eyes slowly closed with a hazy view of the ceiling, .. a kiss on the forehead he felt, and off the boy went in his adventures through the night.
It was his usual habit during the evening before dinner to sit on the corner chair in the office room. Where his father would work and listen to all the music that echoed through the boy's night adventures. Often it was Giselle, The Organ Symphony or Falguni; the boy heard them all with a trepid presence and enthusiasm. The day at dinner table the boy asked his mother for some comic books, his mother brought an end to all his bed-time stories and next day father brought their son a gift – La Nariz.
Unfortunately, his father was not there much longer and could not give their son the books he had lined up. Father passed away when the boy was only ten, but mother conveyed the gifts as the occasions arrived all the way to his sixteenth birthday Taras Bulba, An Aethist’s Mass and The Shot. Those were the last books he was given as a gift from his parents. His reading habit lessened due to other interests a young mind ventures through, such as music, sports, aeroplane and automobile models.
His father's departure the boy quite did not feel then, the absence he felt gradually as he grew up. The absence was initially felt as an unknown vacuum in the young mind, and the realization of the reasons behind came much later.
Through the process of this depiction the boy was subconsciously led repeatedly to his father's office. Now, it was him choosing if it would be SwanLake, The Happy Slaves or a Nut-Cracker evening. Being alone in his father's office room, his concentration was more intensified, but his presence remained just as trepid. Perhaps that is also how his father felt about the music; maybe that is how all music should be heard.
In the lounge, there were many antiques, sculptures and paintings. None too valuable, if they would appear charming, it was mostly due to the semblance the room had achieved through its own antiquity. The unbalance in that room was one empty wall. While most of the lounge was somewhat overcrowded with decorations, relics and clocks from various eras - this one wall was blatantly blank.
Its nudity announcing some dormant yet stern defiance.
This mystery his mother avoided, just as gently as she had always been. To make the mystery more absurd were the visitors of old acquaintance. During their visit, they would listen to music that is not usually played in the house, and they would all fall silent, like as if in a religious ritual, gazing upon this empty wall.
The young man did recall a few glimpses of his father doing the same, when he was much younger. Firstly, the music played in the lounge did not match his father's taste. Secondly this .. .. defiant empty wall!! Not much to pursue upon, when there is nothing to see to egress a clue - except an empty wall.
Like his mother, all visitors avoided any discussion over this mystery. If asked, they would shrug it off with a joke about the ghost in the wall. His mother would never play such music by herself. If someone else did play, she would become spellbound like all others.
When the boy was back home on a vacation, mother and son would often sit in the garden and talk for hours with tea and home-made butter cookies. It was such a lazy Sunday afternoon, both in nostalgic reflections, mother's words wandering about ended upon the empty wall; not quite intentionally. The displeasure if not noticeable in her voice, was in her incongruous words and pauses.
The mystery-synopsis started when the father was first married to his lovely wife, they decorated this house with love and affection, where later our young man was born. Inheritance gave the family a small fortune. At a very fortunate co-incidence, the father had the opportunity to purchase a great reproduction of the Vase With Five Sunflowers. An ordinary man could never afford a genuine van Gogh. But this masterly reproduction was to him no lesser dear. Dear in affection and dear in price.
The mother and father both had to make an effort in funds to obtain such a classic; reproduction or not. They both revered the painting.
Sincere observers might notice, that painting limns world history in many ways, ------ the painting itself has an apposite history.
The father was a public servant. Salary was not quite as one would prefer, so he tried some auxiliary business-expeditions. Things went well in the beginning. In business world, the larger you grow, larger grows your rivalry. Often confronting large knavish rivals can be frustrating for those who wish to remain bona fide. The father's uncompromising honesty brought the family to striving phases.
In the meantime, after the Second World War, something dramatic happened elsewhere. Vincent van Gogh's most paintings at birth have had similar history. Only decades after the artist was deceased, did they get recognition and gradually climbed up to prestigious private and public collections. In 1946, the original Vase With Five Sunflowers believed to have been destroyed by fire in Japan. No authentic detail has been established till today, but most experts are certain, it is no longer in existence.
Trade and social problems were surfacing at many parts of the world after the war. In spite of all the poverty around, the reproductions of this classic were becoming more and more demanded. Naturally, more demanded were those painted before the original got destroyed. The one in possession of our little family was highly regarded, and offers with ridiculously high prices were knocking on their door.
All family and friends advised to have this treasured accolade sold. An easy solution to the struggling business, which was growing beyond the family capacity. Both the father and the mother remained emphatically against this option. It was not only a matter of art appreciation, certainly not a mere investment, it was much more than an issue of possession or ego, much more than that. It was the grudge against all knavish conspiracy of the world. To this family, such accolades are more entwined with virtue without any prudent logic - such notion of trading with art was almost desecrating.
Eventually, the father decided to recede. Folded all business ambitions to remain with his simple basic public service and held on to his dear painting. Man often has to pay a dear price for something dear. The family struggled through a decade. Often living on bread and butter, on occasions even that with borrowed money; as a new baby was born demanding more expensive facilities.
When the boy was 3 years old, they had little resources to give their only child a decent education they wanted in near-future. The two loving parents had to make a decision. The mother proposed to move to a full-time employment instead of her casual leisurely work. They both considered variety of options. The final decision reached at father's initiative, his wife could not have thought of by herself. The grievance was mutual.
Man often has to pay a dear price for something dear.
Mother ended the synopsis, with an empty smile, to remain as gentle as she had always been to her dear, dear child.
Our young man fell silent. He thought over and over again, the mystery unveiled but not what he wanted to hear. That empty wall was there, as the accolade of a price once paid where the painting was hanging once upon a time; a painting he could not recall.
Returning to the lounge, he struggled to lift his eyes this time. The wall seemed hundred times bigger this time, gazing down upon him.
Gathering his courage he lifted his head. The empty wall unveiled had changed its stance somehow. Despite appearing hundred times larger, its defiance had mellowed to a meek silent posture, losing all mystery; but more apparitional the haunting with its unveiled nudity. A mysterious defiance had been irritating and annoying. Now for the young man it was rather inner-grievance from complicity.
Beyond imagination, how much an empty wall can express!!
Hence our young man submitted to the redemptive ritual of gazing upon this wall. Every time he went back to visit his mother, he played odd music like Bruckner. Music he dislikes, yet listens, seeking some sympathy or remedy or penance while gazing upon this empty frameless wall. A bondage that grew to become a solemn affection from mutual remorse and empathy.
Relentless were his imaginative innovations to somehow seek reconciliation. Retrieving the old reproduction was not possible, emptiness of the wall had formed a virtue in itself, and the sentiment was shared by our young man now.
He waited for the time mother goes out of town regularly to visit some relatives for a few days. Then our young man unleashed his simple resolution.
When mother returned, he took her to the lounge blindfolded, then showed her the surprise.
The empty wall was given a frame, it held no painting or picture. For no picture could compensate the loss the wall has cherished for so long; rather an empty frame with a clear glass window, and it could be opened, for breeze and sunlight to come through.
But through the frame you could clearly see the lawn in front of the house, in the middle of which were some newly planted bright sunflowers appeasing the empty wall.
Had there been no empty wall, our young boy might have grown to be very ordinary.