Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Kauthar Paints


Kauthar rinsed her paint brushes meticulously, looking for any pockets of acrylic paint that could’ve gotten stuck between the bristles the last time she painted. She stacked her supplies in a black reusable bag and slid her starch-white canvas under her arm and headed out to scavenge a good place to be creative – she needed bright colours in her landscape, but not too many intricate details – you see, she was still a general blob-painter.

She set up her material with the lake in the background and peered over her spectacles at the island she could see in the far distance. Kauthar wanted to abandon her things and jump into the lake, and float. Just float on her back, look up at the clouded sky and see where she would end up. But, she supposed painting was more sophisticated, more appropriate for a woman of her persuasion; that is, a woman not wishing to deal with the impracticality of wet clothes after a romantic-sounding dip in the lake.

Her hands trembled as they reached for the brush. All she needed was a bit of white and blue to get started on the sky, and she was transported to another place – a place where all she had to do every day was wake up, soak in the sun, and bask in the glory of creation. The brush strokes were firm, sure, bold. She knew her final product would never be a wouldn’t be quite fit to be hung in any gallery or even respectable living room. But it was okay because it made her feel alive to feel the marriage of colours, to smell the sweetness in the wind and slight toxicity of the paint invading her lungs; to taste the thirst of getting lost in one brief moment of time, and forgetting to take a sip of water.

That’s how she wanted to live; grasping a freedom that cannot be attained through relationships with other people, only through a myriad of crushed dreams coming back to life through the colours of the five senses.


Kauthar carefully stepped into her fourth bridal gown of the day. She marvelled at how heavy these beaded beasts really were, and quietly wondered if it was true that wearing white at the wedding was a tradition that happened by accident – something about how women would wear the fanciest dresses they had, which were coincidentally white simply because cotton was the best fabric out there. So white had nothing to do with purity, just convenience?

That wouldn’t have surprised Kauthar in the least – the supposed man-hating, socialist-leaning creature that she was. No surprise that corporate colonialist right-winged zealots had to market purity as being white. And yet at this moment in time, she was eyeing herself in the change room mirror, a snug ivory gown hugging her body and – good God, I need a tan. The irony was a little much as she stepped out from behind the curtain to hear the other girls “ooh” and “ahh” at the beauty of the regal but much too expensive glam of a gown. This one had a bit of a Marilyn Monroe halter-top edge. And as much as she disliked the idea of a wedding being a sort of sanctimonious announcement of wealth, Kauthar started to love the dresses.

There were strapless dresses, ones that were covered in lace from top to bottom, gowns with enormous trains and endlessly intricate beading. All for her. And perhaps that overly emotional woman crying at the register.

And this was her first time. Kauthar didn’t have many “first-times” in her life, considering she had grown comfortable in her way of life. She ate the same things, dressed the same way (actually, she couldn’t remember the last item of clothing she bought), and thought the same kinds of thoughts. She had even tried on diamond engagement rings before – making up an elaborate story about how her then-fake fiancĂ© was leaving the country this weekend, and she needed to try on diamond rings so she could let him know what kind to buy her.

Yes, this was a first-time. The material draped over her skin and fell to the ground, covering the tips of her toes. As she stood in front of the mirror admiring the elegant bunched up lace around her waist, she wistfully thought: I look like a painting.


Omar began to unwrap the DHL package he had just received a few moments ago. The wrapping fell to the ground as he noticed it came with no card, no explanation, no name. It was a large, vague painting of a body of water at sunset, and a deliberately precise streak of ivory paint across the canvas; an empty dress floating above the water.

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