A beautiful painting this was, brilliance and perfection at its best. One could look at it for days and would interpret it in different ways. I stared at this unique work of art and what I saw was a beauty like no other one that captured and interpreted eras and emotions in one simple canvas.
This painting was of a goddess, adorned with spectacular interlocking anklets, bracelets and a necklace made of brass, like one has never seen before. Whenever it caught a glimpse of the sunlight, this jewellery of hers shun ever so brightly against her rich brown skin. As the sunlight moved away from the jewellery and worked its way up to her face, the sparkle was lost all that reflected in her eyes was a cocktail of loss, sorrow, hope, blood and tears.
I was seven at the time, and I asked why does she look so sad? Why does her jewellery look so heavy? I was given a simple reply; along with a smile from an adult ‘… that is not jewellery but shackles’. Years went by and I never forgot this painting of mine, it constantly hunted my thoughts as I tried to deduce what shackles were.
At the age of eleven, I watched an episode of the TV series The Roots and I understood what her jewellery was, I cried and cried for days, not particularly understanding why I was crying, but some how I felt her pain. I felt this intense connection between her soul and mine. Arms were wrapped around me and I was told everything is fine we walk, eat and play together we are all equal now and those words of equality embraced by battered heart, wiped my tears away and planted a beautiful smile upon my face.
At age fifteen, I was taught ‘we are a nation, we are one’. A Democratic Nation where equality and freedom are at its utmost peak, no more shackles, no more pain, this delightful notion has been embedded in this brain of mine. However, as I walk through the streets of my country and I look into the eyes of my kin, I see that very same look the goddess had in the painting, her suffering still reflecting in the eyes of her later generation. We are no longer in shackles, there is no more physical pain, and there is progress so why does this mélange of sadness still shimmer in the eyes of my people? Why do I say, we are free and equal when I don’t see it in their demeanour, is it because that is what I have been taught or is it what I know?
In my twenties, I was introduced to a music album by an artist called Damien Marley; son of a man well-known to fight in the cause of protecting that goddess. In one of the songs, a particular sentence stuck in my head, where he stated ‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery’. Reflecting upon it, it all made sense why socially things had change, but internally the emotions of the canvas still remained.
Mediocracy by leaders has become the norm to an extent that even the masses are numb to it; mundane jobs are perceived as equal to brilliant, light skin is still seen as superior, greed and theft are understood as a must when in power. Poverty is accepted as a way of life. Confusion as to what is right or what ought to be right has plagued our minds so much so that we have become lost souls, though we still believe that there is a chance for revolutionization.
We all want change, we all want happiness, we all want to see that glimpse of hope the goddess had, realised and shining ever so brightly that even where poverty exist it is not accepted, but alternative means to eradicate it are implemented.
It is true that we are imperfectly perfect in our own way; it is also true that we can only do so much in terms of the power given to us. Why not take a page from the book of a legend that has touched the hearts of every being on this earth even if it is in the most minute form, let’s make the changes we want to see and start it with the ‘Man in the Mirror’. Young individuals are growing and fulfilling their dreams. Now when I look back at that painting I see something new, I see a hidden happiness admits all the angst coming to life almost as if she can see her younger generation, young entrepreneurs and children fulfilling her dream.
I leave you all with a thought to ponder upon, by a great mind known as C.J.Jung who states ever so cleverly that ‘your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. He who looks outside dreams; he who looks inside awakes’.
Chapter two: ‘Whiteman: – imprisoned by freedom’ coming soon.
Submitted – Black Orchid