Colors of a New Dawn

It’s a somber dawn. The widening grey façade resembles a tsunami in the sky. The grayness filters through the lacerated mesh but fails to dim my excitement. Her life moves in sync with the varying shades of gray that seldom seem to lift. Confined to a neglected room in the mansion, nothing breaks the monotony in Drishti’s life other than me.

On this particular day, when she unlocks the rusted, crooked trunk of memories. My magnificence hasn’t dimmed over the years. Her rough, scaly hands caress the embellished colorful silken threads. She smiles, lays her head on the ravaged wall, reminiscing times when she gleamed, a chirpy, joyful bride whose head I adorned with pride. The vagaries of time engulf us together, shriveling physical strength and diminishing colors. The stifling sobs and I, the crimson Phulkari* that bedecked her are testimony to the arduous journey.

Married at a tender age with a million dreams and then experiencing the fragile dreams crumble like a house of cards, Drishti was now widowed, struggling for a foothold in the orthodox Zamindari* household of her husband. His body never found its way home. All that returned for the last rites was the ‘olive green’* with a letter from her beloved- his last letter before leaving for war.

Drishti straightened herself with a jerk, not letting go of me, adjusting the drape neatly. She lunged towards the trunk, desperately. Ruffling and rambling she finally gets hold of the precious last words. She squeezes the letter tightly, a souvenir of remembrance. The twenty long years since colors were swept away is an eternity for her. The last letter reinstitutes hope that lasts Drishti another year. Today, she decides to read the letter aloud,

“Though time has kept us apart, yet your thoughts stir my soul. Not once do I feel the distance even though it grows. Even if I’m not around, let your life be worthwhile to our name. Fight the drudgery, quit the loneliness, for you are a flower spreading color and fragrance around.”

She reads it aloud, again and again till tears take over.

“How can I forget this? How can I be selfishly lost in gloom?”

A soft knock startles her.

“Who is it? No body visits me ever!”

She opens the door to a beaming face, “Namaste! I’m the new principal of the village school. I’m looking for an art teacher and have been knocking at every door searching for you Drishti Ji.”

Drishti stands riveted, pulling me away hastily.

“I’m no teacher. Colors and I are long alienated.” She snaps.

“An artist is always an artist,” the bubbly lady continues. She spreads out a canvas on the floor along with paints and brushes. “Take your time, but know that this is where you belong. I will await your canvas.” She walks out, waving back and smiling.

Still clutching the letter tightly, something within her stirs. A soft murmur fills the room as she repeats the last words of the letter. I watch from the messy bed, colors may dim but are never erased.

Saravjot Hansrao



Phulkari: a colorful embroidered drape native to Punjab

Zamindari: rural landlords with large land holding

Olive Green: used to refer to the uniform of the Army