As we traversed the Eastern Freeway, numerous grey buildings in various stages of construction could be seen lined across Mumbai’s grey skyline. Intermittent rain and dark clouds played tricks with the mind, because at one point in time it looked like a ghost city – devoid of greenery or life like that in the movie Inception. A few birds flying indicated it was not.
In the two years that I have stayed here, five tall buildings have come up around my rather short seven-storied building. The sixth one is coming up and it will block my last view of the open skies. It will effectively block the summer morning sun from streaming into my bedroom. And even the moon which I can now see only when it moves above the tall buildings. Two years ago, I often watched the misty orange moon rise above the horizon. The distant view of the hills which made me dream especially on rainy days, is long gone – blocked by another construction.
It seems like years now since I have experienced the euphoria of a nature-perfect day uncompromised by the restrictions of a city life. Now these have faded into just moments, to quickly grasp before they vanished into the chaos of an urban life. Whether it’s this city or anywhere else.
I cannot find anymore those perfect autumn days, chilly and mellow; when a breeze would shake the drying yellow leaves and let it fall all around you. In those times when nature became bare, I became the happiest. Or a crisp and sparkly winter afternoon when the biting cold wind made you want to stay outside longer than huddle inside under your blanket. The fun was in wearing multiple layers, and shiver in the bright sunshine because it was then that the laughter was the loudest and the companionship the warmest.
I do not find anymore any tree-lined long avenues to walk past dreamily while it continued to drip water after a sudden shower. Nor can I find a space to stand and catch sun-spots as the leaves danced madly to their own secret tunes. I don’t find a distant horizon with small hills and a vast open sky where the shape-shifting clouds would roll in and out endlessly. It was in that horizon, when you saw the approaching dark days of monsoon that the heart grew strangely restless and wild.
I have not painted for seven years now.
For I paint nature.