Hidden solaceHe gave up the idea of pursuing a career in art once he realised that colourful façades often hid dark and painful struggles.
It was another tedious day for Paul. Watching the pigeons on the balcony during his smoke break was the only serenity he felt during the long hours at this workplace. He would occasionally scatter a few grains of nuts and watch the birds flock towards them as they indulged in a friendly battle to pick them up.
“The pigeons are dancing quite beautifully today,” thought Paul with a faint smile as he took the last drags of the Surya Cigarette whose wrinkled packet he clasped with his other hand.
12:07. He watched time pass on his wrist watch. He was out for two minutes longer than permissible by the management. In his mind, he wanted to rush back, but his body dreaded, made it as difficult as possible for him to move. Paul took a deep breath as he flicked the end of the smoke and collected all the energy in his body to get himself three floors down where a pile of files were waiting for him to drain all his remaining energy.
His black chair looked like Darth Vader’s helmet. For him, it resembled an evil tyranny that captivated people’s dreams and hopes and entrapped into its shackles to never let them free again. Defeated, he sat down and felt its evil tentacles wrap around himself. He stared blankly into his computer screen.
Paul had always dreamt of being an artist. His doodles blanketed the space around his cubicle and Paul hated the fact that his life resembled the opposite of his vibrant artistic expressions. He still scribbled whatever frisky idea took place in his mind, but he gave up the idea of pursuing a career in art once he realised that the colourful façade of an artist’s life hid dark and painful struggles behind it.
The clock had struck 5:00.
A flicker of pleasure ran through Paul’s network of thoughts; it did not last long because the thought of returning to the place tomorrow consumed him. It always did. It was always there, constantly on the back of his mind. It sat there like a homeless person. But Paul was used to this. He had found a way to get by with everyday tasks, by pretending enough, to look okay. Paul gathered his things and left the premises.
His bike ride was on auto-pilot. Apart from a few stops at the lights and sudden encounters with pedestrians, he did not have to put much thought into his journey. He had been following the same path for the past five years without ever changing his route, except for that one time when they had created a diversion for some construction work which Paul still could not notice to this day. Without any realisation, Paul was already at his house. He kissed his dad on the forehead as soon as he entered his home who was sitting in a wheelchair following the current affairs on the TV. He could hear his mother cooking in the kitchen as the whistle blew from the pressure cooker and completely tore through the silence.
Paul headed straight into his room; to complete his unfinished works in haste. He had lost track of his works because he felt eventually they would all find their way into the trash anyway. He lay down as soon as he changed. He always intervened whenever his mother offered to help clean the room. He said he would do it himself when he got time. But time had almost become something of an absurd idea to him. It seemed like he had plenty of it in his hands but the energy to convert them into productive hours was what seemed to be lacking.
Paul was dwelling mindlessly on his social media. He scrolled his mobile screen without putting much thought into it. He stopped at a particular message from some motivational speaker. “You miss 100 percent of the chances you don’t take,” it read. It had a ring to it. Paul had always thought about quitting his job and really going forward with the art venture, but had no idea where it would lead him. But even thinking about it had a certain thrill to it. Paul often played around with this idea and tried to predict the outcome without any success for multiple times. A certain rush of euphoria always ran through his veins whenever he imagined himself as a successful artist with multitude accolades, diving deep into this realm of colours and creativity. He would pour his heart and soul into it. He would draw influences from the greatest from all the corners of the world and fuse them into together. He would spend hours locked up in a room with just a canvas.
“Paul, dinner’s ready” said his mother with a knock on the door. It was 8:30. He didn’t realise time had passed by so quickly. He snapped back to reality. He found himself back in his room, took a while to clear up his mind. He got out and saw his parents waiting for him at the dinner table. He was the apple of their eye, the whole foundation of their existence at this point. They took great pride in their son who had taken over all the responsibilities of the house without ever showing a sign of distress. And Paul loved them with the most pure and cherished love there was. He would put his parents before anything.
A while after dinner, Paul made sure the folks were well settled for the night and headed back to his room with a sense of satisfaction and lay in his bed. He dismissed going back to his dreamy montage and tried to get some shut eye. The conflict between responsibility and passion tried to recur back to his thoughts. The motivational quote crept back into his mind. But the satisfaction in his parents’ eyes would trump any alternate course of life.
Regardless, Paul slept peacefully. Momentarily, all these thoughts would vanish, putting Paul into a deep trance as if a wizard had swept out all his concerns and filled his mind with nothing but beautiful clouds and blue sky. Outside it was a beautiful night. The stars and the moon were in perfect alignment as if they were one. And on the edge of the Paul’s window sat a beautiful dark blue pigeon occasionally fluttering its wings comfortably in its regular spot.