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A Visit To A Small Art Shop Reminded Me Of The Hollowness Of Life’s Rat-Race

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I walk with my mom slowly, enjoying the night’s cold breeze on my face at 8 PM. Not that we have gone for a stroll – we are only returning from the stores as my mom wanted some urgent groceries.

As we walk down the street, I see a little stand – a kind of display on wheels – with some wooden objects illuminated by a single CFL bulb from above. A man is standing near it, having one such object in his hand and talking to the old shopkeeper. Both our paces automatically reduce – we stop to have a look at the articles, only to see some magnificent pieces of art with intricate details, all done on wood. There are models of ships, architectural temples (resembling those from the south), and houses.

Seeing all of it, I cannot keep my hands to myself, and I touch one of the ships on display. My mom, with the reflex she’s always had when I’m around, casually says, “Don’t touch it – you’ll break it”. At this, the old man, in one of the most pleasant tones I’ve ever heard, says, “Dear, it’s okay – you can touch them as much as you want. I have made them pretty strong.” Saying this, he takes one of the ships and hits it hard on his palm, showcasing its strength.

We are both agape – what looked so delicate from the outside, held such strength. It was amazing. It reminded me of women, and their inner strength. Perhaps, that is why we refer to a ship as a ‘she’.

Handing it to me, he says, “You do not know how much joy I feel that people are taking time to inspect my art. It doesn’t matter to me if you buy my models or don’t – showing you my pieces alone gives me immense pleasure.”

Somehow, these words reach out to the immaterial parts of me. With melancholy, he also states that most people simply pass by, not giving so much as a glance towards his work. When the children try to approach the the stand, their parents simply admonish them, saying that they are fragile and that they will break. It is said that an artist needs appreciation more than money or anything else – and this was clearly visible in the man’s despondent eyes.

Overcome with nostalgia, the old man recalls for us how he, his two daughters and wife together used to make these ship models. Now that his daughters are married, only his wife remains to help. The bitter sweetness of the situation is not concealed by his voice. After all, this art form he has mastered will probably end with him, as there’s no one to take it further. However, on the other hand, he’s grateful that he has successfully managed to drag his daughters out from the ill fate of spending their days longing for some passerby to stop and have a look at their work.

 

Our busy lives fail to notice such art forms that often become extinct due to the lack of recognition and credit. But how many of us care to take these forms of art seriously? However, if you give it a brand and expensive price tag, everyone will be swarming over it. Have you ever thought of reasoning this inanity?

The more I try to understand it, the more it boggles the mind. Humans only seek what is complex and difficult to attain since that is what ostensibly raises them above the others. What is simple and readily available bothers none.

But here, let’s think realistically – what’s wrong in this? That is how it should be, right? A competitive spirit is paramount for the human race to develop and evolve by establishing milestones. But we definitely forget the aspects in which these ideologies have to be used. The attention that is supposed to be given to the immaterial parts, has changed course – and its opposite, worldly sophistication and grandeur, has taken over the stage.

Everyone is unique and has a different road to travel – but forgetting all this, we all join that one race. The prospect of pushing people to the back has become so appealing that we fail to understand where we are heading towards or where our destination lies. We are so engrossed in the race that we don’t even notice that it has been a while since we overtook the diversion we should have taken.

Only if we can spend some time understanding our needs (rather than the idea of leaving the co-rival behind), will we not fall into this chaotic chase of rising above others. We seek complex things, but simplicity is the ultimate zenith you can attain. After all, making it simple is much harder than making it complex.

Try appreciating the simpler things in life – you’ll see that most complex things aren’t the same. And many such shops will survive for the years to come!

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