| The Artist's Daughter|
The artist I wrote about the other day (see: House is full of kids, yard is full
of shit) came from a family of distinguished artisans and temple-builders (his
last name was "Templemaker"). He
himself was a skilled sculptor and painter. Unfortunately heï¿½ lived in a
time when there was no patronage for his skills. The ivory was banned, and the
sandle-wood (two of the base materials for his sculpting) was rarely available.
He made a living by preparing ephemeral wedding decorations, and personalizing
umbrellas (writing names on them) and automobiles.
© Vikas Kamat
He had many children. One of the daughters was in my class. She did not get
through IV grade and became a classmate of my younger cousin, then she failed
again, and became a
classmate of yet another cousin during the VII grade, and again a classmate of
yet another cousin who is five years younger than me, during her IX grade, and
hence was the subject of many hilarious jokes.
Then I left Honavar, studied engineering, joined a computer company, and once
again had the opportunity to visit Honavar under a Rural Development Project. I
wanted a sign made for our office, and decided to call upon our artist. I was
told that due to debts and financial poverty, he'd had to sell his shop and now
worked from home. So I went to his house.
I was happy to see the artist and greeted him -- he was a role model for me
when I was growing, when I used to watch him make fantastic carvings from dry
wood -- although he didn't recognize me in my expensive clothes. He had become
old beyond his age. He then pointed me to the adjacentï¿½ living roomï¿½ and said "they are in there".
Two of his daughters were sitting inside the room and one of them, my former
classmate, approached me. She recognized me, and asked me to come in. I quite
didn't understand, and told her I wanted a sign painted, she then referred me
back to her father and said a sweet tone to visit her when I was free.
My family members then told me what had occurred of the artist's family. The
girls had taken to prostitution. It made me sick to my stomach that a girl who
had studied with me had had to go to the flesh business, and whose father I had
so looked up to, knew about it and possibly was now acting as a pimp.
As I have grown older (this incident occurred ten years ago), I have nothing
but sympathy for the artist and his family. Systematic destruction of forest
resources denied him the only means of livelihood. There was no role for an
artist in a society where the temples were being built only illegally, and plastic and
manufactured art was gaining popularity. What could he have done? What else
could his daughter have done?
You know, poverty is the worst form of violence.
|First Written: Thursday, November 27, 2003|
Last Modified: 11/28/2003