The Hues

Shubhra was busy giving last minute touches to her vast canvas painting of Navrang – the nine colours that represent the various stages and emotions of human life. She could hear Varna, her daughter, enter the gallery. Varna asked “All set?”. Shubhra shook her shoulders in an indecisive manner saying, “Butterflies in tummy” Varna smiled and said “That’s good. It means you are going to be terrific tomorrow” both laughed in unison.

They drove back home and retired to bed soon after. But Shubhra couldn’t sleep. Was it the anxiety for tomorrow? Or was it the memories that were haunting her for sometime now? She wasn’t sure. She lay there on her bed, and let herself slip into her past.

Shubhra, her name, which meant spotlessly white. Colours always held a special place in her life. Thanks to her mother, who would tell her how colours are an essential part of our lives. Right from the Rangoli that is drawn everyday outside the house for positive vibes to the spices used in the kitchen to make those sumptuous dishes – colours are everywhere. And the colours influence your life and your mindset as well. So profound was the influence of colours in her life that she aspired to be an artist – a painter to be precise.

She sought her insights from the works of Da Vinci and Van Gogh. Back home, Raja Ravi Verma inspired her the most. An only child, she was not pampered though. Her parents encouraged her in every way they could and they were aware of their daughter’s mettle.

Shubhra went on to pursue her studies in Fine Arts at the prestigious J.J School of Arts in Mumbai. She was imaginative and the faculty admired her for her creative thoughts that emanated onto her canvas from the mundane. It was here that she met Dhaval, an exchange student from Vadodara, Gujarat. Cupid struck, painted her heart red, and they were busy chalking out their career plans together before they realised it. The parents approved the alliance and shortly after Shubhra and Dhaval became one.

Dhaval was a fresco artist, and with all the historical monuments in the country being revamped, his career was booming. Shubhra too was finding her foot as a freelance artist and accepting assignments while balancing her married life. She was experiencing it all, the joy, the little disappointments. Her canvas of life was colourful with the memories she and Dhawal were making together. The joy was short lived though.

Dhawal was working on a project where he was required to paint a dome when suddenly the harness, he was hanging on gave away. He fell on his head and was lost to another realm. Shubhra was pregnant then. Her in laws took it too hard and blamed it on Shubhra, the yet to be born baby. Their errant attitude abhorred the relationship nexus they had built over the years with Shubhra. All she could see around was black and blue, her colourful prismatic life suddenly lost its source of light. She then decided to stay with her parents.

Now, the focus of her life was going to be her baby. Shubhra took up a steady teaching job at an Arts college that gave her more time to take care of herself during the pregnancy and later the baby. She gave birth to a beautiful daughter; she named her Varna – Queen of colours. Together, they were painting their life canvas anew. In building a life for her daughter, Shubhra’s aspirations took a backseat.

Varna grew up to be a sensitive and empathetic child, who was aware and respected the sacrifices that her mom had to make. After completing her graduation, she landed in a high paying job and decided it was time to give her mother her dreams back. She insisted that Shubhra enrol for a doctorate program in Fine Arts. Shubhra denied right away. She said “Are you out of your mind? What will the world say? Look at this female studying again at the age of 50!” To which Varna replied “And that is exactly why I want you to do it Mom. You raised me single handed and now, together, I want us to fight this blocked mentality of the society – There is a certain age to pursue your dreams” Shubhra couldn’t reason that wisdom.

5 years down, here they were, together, hosting Dr. Shubhra’s first exhibition of her own paintings.

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Pranita Bhagat Kaur

Pranita Bhagat is a learning and development consultant with 8 years of experience in the industry and academia. Currently, a stay-at-home-mom to her toddler, she took to writing when she decided to share her journey and experiences of motherhood with the world. Her other vices are food, books and travel.

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