Art for Art’s Sake

2

Later at night, he rolls in his bed wondering what went wrong.

You can’t sustain your family with this measly teacher’s paycheck…Think about what your children will get in future…What kind of school they will go to…Think about your wife…She has desires…She hardly shops for herself…And you don’t have time for your family…What do you do at home…What’s there in the garage that’s keeping you up at night…You are a good-for-nothing fellow…You don’t deserve such a lovely wife and beautiful children…Just think about them…Your family needs you…

His ears kept ringing from the words he heard over all these years after marriage. He remembers people telling him to focus on his career. A person needs to be career-oriented, his sister-in-law said.

But what about art, what about passion, what about your destiny? There is so much more to life than a career. William understood it. But his family didn’t. No one did. His family longed for his presence in their lives. They spent years and now they have stopped. There is time for everything. They let go of the hope that the man of the family will come around. The wait came to an end. Now, he’s all by himself.

Next morning, he goes about his usual morning routine and dashes off to school. Everyone seems to be aware of what has transpired in this man’s life recently. He is getting attention from one and all. Even the students know. Words travel fast. This is the era of technology. And William hates it. He doesn’t carry around a smartphone. He is a simple man with simple desires. Later, he returns home and starts his sixteenth work. He believes he will get around the critics one day and become an artist people would look up to.

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Art for Art’s Sake

1

William is painting in his garage as usual. He is decked up in all the hues he has at his disposal. One stroke leads to another. He pushes himself deep into the world that he is creating. His wife and children wish him goodnight and leave. He ignores them and carries on.

He returns to his family early in the morning to get some much-needed sleep. He finds the bed empty. He dozes off immediately and starts running in a parallel universe of his own making. This world is different than his real world. He has complete authority here. He is the lord, the one and only. He has magical powers. He toys with everything. He doesn’t like something, he gets another. He wants pleasure and he gets some.

His family doesn’t know what he’s up to in his own world and now they never will. He didn’t give them a choice. After waking up at the alarm bell, he finds the house unusually quiet. No shouting of his wife, no noise from the children. They must have left. Okay, he thought. He gets in the shower and gets out in a jiffy. He’s always getting late for school. He finds no breakfast in the kitchen. He curses his wife and slurps on some milk left in the refrigerator. He rushes out the door.

He returns later in the evening and finds his house empty again. He finds a note on the dining table. His family left him. The note blames him for immersing himself deep into another world. His dream of being a renowned painter led to his family deserting him. He rushes to the garage and gets back at adding a finishing touch to his latest addition.

Fighting with Birds

8

Recently, there has been a decline of targets in the vicinity. I have probably exhausted my to-be meals. I may have to persevere and travel to distant locations. I will need more muscle power and toil. My family doesn’t give a damn. They receive mostly the undesired parts.

On one occasion, I traveled far enough. My legs were sore from the walk in the rough terrain. I needed rest. I sat down for a while. I saw some birds approaching me. But I was unable to do anything. The rifle felt so heavy that I couldn’t lift it. The birds knew. They mocked me. This is the first time, I said. It didn’t matter to them. They didn’t give a damn.

I started crawling. I don’t know where. Nothing made sense. Everything was new to me. I was lost. I heard loud cries from birds. My senses were misleading me. I shot one into the nothingness and lost my consciousness.

After a few hours, I wake up and it is dark. I feel pain all over my body. There are cuts and bruises all over. I seem to have lost blood and some flesh. My senses fail me again. I am unable to make sense of anything. They won finally. Now, I know what it feels like to be left for dead. I did this to them hundreds of times. Now it’s my turn. It is okay, I guess. It is a fair game. Me versus them, always.

Fighting with Birds

7

Hunting began as early as historians can figure out. People hunted animals for food and killed them in the name of self-defense. It led to a shared act which made people form bonds. It made them share the effort and the prize. Communities must have started this way. No, they started so that we didn’t kill each other over trifles and end the human race, my brother disagreed.

Hunting also helped people release their anger. We have a natural tendency to get angry. It’s all right, mother, you let it out, I always said. And her hands and face would go haywire at that.

There is no honor in killing a defenseless animal, a friend said. Leave your gun out of it and it will be an even game for both the parties, another friend said. They fail to realize it’s all about getting something in your belly by any means possible. It’s not a sport. It never can be. There is no sport where one party uses an object which the other party is deprived of. This is just a one-way thing, always the odds in favor of me. It can’t be another way. I don’t have wings. How am I supposed to be fair and compete? People, bad at hunting, get sensitive about it. They get excited and give my effort a thumbs down as if they have the right to judge.

Fighting with Birds

6

I believe in helping out Mother Nature. She’s the one I look up to. She bears no grudge against me. We share this world together and together we rule. I get rid of some birds which overpopulate the earth. I bring balance and harmony to the environment I live in. Let me tell you that you are plain selfish, my father said. He doesn’t share similar concerns for my second mother, one who doesn’t curse me every now and then. She is the best friend that I have, perhaps the only one.

Charles Darwin said something about the extinction of the weakest. I support his theory by eliminating the weakest out there. I pave the way for the stronger generations to come forward. This also leads to future challenges while taking them down. It makes me toil harder. I become better along with them. We take care of each other. Our world is a perfect symbiosis. Sharing and caring is the name of the game.

I submit to the cause of their habitat conservation by preventing people from using the land for industries and housing. Their natural habitat stays intact and I get to hunt them. It’s a win-win for both the parties. Easy for you to say who is getting all the things in his favor, my uncle said.

Fighting with Birds

5

Kentucky has their own fried chicken concept. Asians do things their way spicing everything up. I have my own way. I like my chicken raw, sometimes. Yes, I’m the only one in my village to do so. There is something about the first blood you draw out of your prized hunt. There is no equal to the taste of fresh blood. All these talks of me being a vampire might be far-fetched. I get involved thoroughly in what I do. I give in to the experience and relish each part of it. Devouring a whole chicken is a must. It starts with a blood tasting ceremony leading to a bite or two into the flesh sometimes. Then a bit of roast and spices, I consume one life. You could have shared with your mother, my brother said. I dare not jinx my experience. Food is my only recreational activity. I enjoy it to the fullest. I let nobody dictate what I eat and how I eat it. It’s a personal ritual and people can go fuck themselves for all I care. Nobody comes between me and my food. I wonder what I would have to go through if I were to depend on someone else for taking care of my hunger pangs. I see these people as dogs who depend on others. They eat, shit and sleep. Babies are a definite exception. But not others. They disgust me.

Fighting with Birds

4

My tryst with birds started at the age of six when my uncle took me hunting along with his friends. And I have been hooked ever since. Anybody wants to know who I am and I tell them I’m a hunter. I hunt birds. I do it because I like it and I’m good at it. This is all I know. No one is better than me at this, not in this village and in the ones I know of. People come to me for suggestions. I tell them I’m no coach. I don’t know how to guide them. They find it a turn down by a master who won’t reveal his secrets. There is no secret to what I do, I keep on telling anyone who asks me. But they want to know. So, I tell them to start hunting in a certain faraway place which helped me learn. They will find a variety of birds to practice with. Of course, all this is a big fat lie. Just something that will give people some hope and get them going. This is my way of giving back to the community. By misleading people, my mother pointed out just before she told me I was cursed. It’s always the same with her. She’s the best memento I have ever encountered, a complete pain in the ass. Of course, my father begs to differ. It helps him with his nighttime activities as well as daytime. He’s the only husband in our village to be blessed with a dumb wife, my uncle said. It makes sense coming from him.