The meaning of the word Ekphrastic, is ‘a vivid description of a work of Art’. I cannot possibly write a poem about this topic. Many of my readers have asked me about the painting of the Tiger that I have in my home. while I am not exactly describing the art, I want to describe the reason and the procurement of this piece of art. My apologies to Leah for not sticking with the prompt.
Perhaps I should prose the prompt and write /describe the painting that I had posted a couple of days back.
My father’s uncle was Abdul Azeez. He was a gifted artist. When my own grandfather died in the early part of the century, my father and grandmother were cared by her brothers. They were well off, but the brothers thought that they should be there for their sister and help her in any way they could. This uncle, Azeez was a commissioned artist for the Maharajah of Mysore. He would paint jungle life and the Court of the Maharajah with such detail and perfection that there were rooms in the palace that were named for him.
I have been through those palaces in Mysore— Lalitha Palace and Jagannath Palace. I have seen the “Azeez Rooms”, where his paintings covered the entire room. The Maharajah would take the uncle with him whenever he went hunting with the visiting British dignitaries. So you can see how the love of hunting came into my father’s life.
The painting of the tiger, was a favorite of my father. When his uncle died in Kabul, all his personal work was taken over by his son, my father’s cousin. By that time father was already well established in the circle of scholars. So, when he became the dean of the university he asked his cousin Azeez II, to join him, which he did. And he more or less lived with us. He was also an artist, and I have many of his paintings here with me also. He had a huge trunk in which he had kept his paintings. I remember the day when this particular painting of the Tiger was returned to him from the National Museum of India in the mid-fifties. It was a great day of celebration. Father and his cousin had given up hope of ever getting it back. ‘Uncle’ kept this painting in the trunk amidst many folds of tissue paper. He would always talk about the way his father had painted it from memory.
There was another painting. It was a watercolor painting of white tailed deer. I loved that painting so much. Every time I went to his house, I would ask him to show that particular painting. Unfortunately, the painting was not finished. Before he could finish it, he (my father’s uncle, Azeez senior) migrated to Kabul.
In 1983, after I had come to this town, I heard that my ‘uncle’ Azeez junior was sick and was hard up for money etc. So every month I would send him some money, which helped him get medicines and fruits etc. One day, I was in my office at the hospital and a large parcel was delivered to me. I didn’t know what it was, but it had come from India. My own parents were gone, and my siblings didn’t send things around to me much. I opened the parcel and gasped at these two paintings. One was The Tiger crouching, and the other was the painting of the deer standing, its senses alert, as if it could hear the sound of the brush against the paper. There was a letter along with the paintings, in which my uncle, Azeez junior, had thanked me for the financial help, and asked that I take these paintings as a gift from him.
And now you Know The Rest Of the Story!