{“Still life : Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh} 

I decided not to romanticize men for sometime.
I want to maintain a safe distance from them. They hurt me. Always. 
I have nothing against them, but do not want to talk about them for a while.
I prefer to sit in the backyard, fix my gaze at the birds hidden in the branches,
busy producing a complex variety of notes.
At times, one bird listens to the other bird’s song and then responds to it.
Interestingly, we do not even pause to catch our breath.
At dawn when there is little breeze, and when most of us are still fast asleep
with our fists against our cheeks, birds sing long and elaborate songs.

I, these days, find comfort in contemplating the Sunflowers.
I saw them standing in a pale cream-colored earthen pot behind the glass
window of a restaurant. A morning before I met with an accident.
I am somewhat familiar with the old man who sits at the cash-counter in the restaurant.
I asked him where does the sunlight paint its hues on the flowers?
He reduced the volume of his radio and smiled at me.
He drew a map that had roads with many turns marked in different colors.
These, he said, take me to a long-winding road, at the end of which are the fields.
He instructed me that I should not mind walking across them in the afternoon sun.
And I should not mind about my feet getting dusty.
To bring back home colors of the fields is certainly not easy a task.

Mornings, Afternoons, Siestas and Evenings are no longer as lifeless as they used to be.
A strip of sunlight streams around and everything becomes still quiet.
A golden-hued revolution unfurls slowly from the corner.
And then it overflows, through the earthen pot, spills over the cloth,
leaves a few stains around, crawls up to me.
For the first time in my life, I forgot to hate my brown skin.

{To Munny -my sister, Mom and Ant}

Sunflowers held a particular fascination for Vincent van Gogh (Dutch,1853-90). During his brief career of 10 yrs as an artist he painted many versions of Sunflowers – he changed the colours of the backdrop, the no. of flowers in the vase etc etc. I have not read much about this legendary artist, but always find self drawn to his paintings,  which, undoubtedly, breathe with certain kind of vibrancy and feverishness that the artist would have been possessed with while working at them. If I take a stroll down memory lane, I still can see a street lined with trees, across which I ran as a 10 yr old little girl shrieking with excitement for being a proud winner of a tiny book about Vincent van Gogh as the second prize for my painting Sunflowers rendered in water-colours…running behind was a little girl who admired me almost with the utmost devotion. Those were the days, both dad and mom used to entertain us with quite a few publications from USSR like Soviet Union. We three girls used to devour all those magazines, story books one after another. Our walks hand-in-hand, just imagine, three little girls in crisp cotton frocks (we were not that rich to wear silk paavadas/parikinis – long skirts with silk brocade or floral edges) to the library are the most cherishable moments in our lives……well, this requires an exclusive  note!       

A glimpse at  Vincent van Gogh’s letters, one can understand how much he was driven by this desire to immortalize simple beautiful moments of his life…..    

My dear Theo,

I write in great haste to tell you that I have had a note from Gauguin, saying that he has not written much, but that he is quite ready to come South as soon as the opportunity arises. They are enjoying themselves very much painting, arguing and fighting with the worthy Englishmen; he speaks well of Bernard’s work, and B. speaks well of Gauguin’s.I have three canvases going – 1st, three huge flowers in a green vase, with a light background, a size 15 canvas; 2nd, three flowers, one gone to seed, having lost its petals, and one a bud against a royal-blue background, size 25 canvas; 3rd, twelve flowers and buds in a yellow vase (size 30 canvas). The last one is therefore light on light, and I hope it will be the best. Probably I shall not stop at that. Now that I hope to live with Gauguin in a studio of our own, I want to make decorations for the studio. Nothing but big flowers. If I carry out this idea there will be a dozen panels. So the whole thing will be a symphony in blue and yellow. I am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so soon, and the thing is to do the whole in one rush.  I am beginning to like the South more and more. I am working on another study of dusty thistles, with an innumerable swarm of white and yellow butterflies.[Painting lost].

A handshake, I must get back to work.

Ever yours, Vincent

Gauguin said that Bernard has made an album of my sketches and has shown it to him.

At this time, Vincent was 35 year old

Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c.
21 August 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, published in The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh, Publisher: Bulfinch, 1991, number 526.

 Arles, c. 21 August 1888

Dear Sister,I write you these few words in a hurry, as I don't want to postpone telling you how pleased I am that you are in Paris, and I suppose you are going to see a lot of things in the days to come. It is not quite impossible that next year, when I shall be living with my friend Gauguin, you will happen to go as far as the Mediterranean. I am convinced you too will think it beautiful here.What is your opinion of that picture of Gauguin's, the one with those Negresses which Theo has? - I could imagine you might understand it. At the moment I am working on a bunch of twelve sunflowers in a yellow earthenware pot, and I intend to decorate the whole studio with nothing but sunflowers. I hope when you go back to Holland you will take along some study of mine to decorate your room. I am sure you will observe that in summer the sun is a great deal hotter in Paris than at home.I think I should not object to going even a bit farther, I mean where the country is less flat, seeing that in point of fact I never saw a mountain in my life. As soon as Gauguin is here, I suppose we shall do it. But until then I am going to stay in Arles. And after he has come I should like to go on a walking tour with him all over Provence.I am very busy working on my sunflowers, and in reality I have nothing to say.So I had better stop.

Wishing you and Theo truly nice days and fine weather,


*I, as a humble admirer of this legendary artist, am reproducing two letters as written by him.