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She was a quiet girl, never uttered a word. Her silence, however, didn’t go unobserved. If anything, the short, petite girl was almost impossible not to notice, with her pale skin contrasting her cherry red lips and ebony black hair. Her doe-like eyes were wide pools of blue, complete with dark rims. All the children in the village gawked at her from a safe distance. She was a newcomer, a surprise to all the residents of the suburb. Her sharp eyes took in every detail of the quaint village whenever she took her daily walk to the market, and every evening, she would disappear to create something magical. When children from the village gathered around the garden at the end of the week to play Tag or Hide-and-seek, they saw the girl walking along the dirty broken path. Her small arms were holding onto dozens of colored canvases delicately. The children eyed her curiously. The women, washing clothes by the river, stopped their tedious task to latch their eyes onto the girl. Although they were just looking for something to gossip about, they had taken pity on the ‘poor child’, who seemed to be a homeless orphan. The girl paid no attention to the discourteous way that the people of the town had stopped their work to stare at her. She simply began laying out her paintings in front of each of the tented houses she passed. A gift from her to the villagers.
For the past week, the girl had been painting the village she had been observing as she saw it. She had seen the chattering ladies as several hard-working, trustworthy, and faithful women who worked hard to keep their families well fed, well dressed, and clean. She drew them as fairies, who appeared to help strangers and stragglers like herself as well as maintaining their households. Walking onto the next hut, she left behind a canvas filled with knights and princes. They represented the hard-working men who earned just enough to sustain their families. The knights were not battling or rescuing distressed damsels from tall towers. They were questing. They were depicted as noble and brave. The next painting was filled with ducklings splashing away in a pond, illustrated for the inquisitive, playful, and innocent children. The village elders, with their silver hair, were interpreted as wizards and witches; wise, truthful, and understanding. In the portrait, the elderly were magical beings, sitting together in a circle, around a cauldron. They were helping a pitiful young boy with chocolate brown hair. After laying down the canvases in the center of the village, the girl disappeared. Although gone for good this time, the villagers were touched by the painted miracles and examined them whenever they needed to cheer themselves up, or whenever they wanted to be the best version of themselves. They would cherish the paintings for their entire lives.
The girl then found her way to a large city, filled with carriages, palaces, and the rich. There she was even more of an outcast, an outsider. Children snickered whenever they saw her in her beige coloured rags, and women would sneak small glances at her whenever they passed by the street. The girl never took offence. She just stared. She watched as the homeless begged for food, and when the soldiers marched the streets. She watched as carriages flew past her and as church bells rang to signify a wedding. And at the end of the week, she brought out her paintings. The whole city seemed to be watching her as she advanced towards the centre of the metropolis. Her keen gaze had not missed a single detail when she drew. Depicting the children as jesters, who loved smiling, and making everyone else smile, she made their faces soft but grins large. The women were drawn as elves. Constricted by society, they changed their behavior when with their husbands, and when with their friends, just like how elves could shapeshift. The beautiful creatures had on intricate clothes which showed how uncomfortable it was to seem perfect at all times, and were looking longingly at the other elves in the background; the ones which could wear whatever they wanted comfortably. It demonstrated the longing that women had to have their own rights and be able to do whatever they wanted. There was another canvas filled with dragons. Each of the dragons protecting a castle had different coloured scales, but the same designs. It looked as though they were individuals part of a large group. The dragons looked like the soldiers in the army, fierce and strong. She coloured the homeless as wolves, independent and capable. She depicted how although they wanted to be accepted socially, they needed to be independent, and firm to do so. The citizens of the city espied the artwork and studied it carefully. Impressed, they hung the canvases in the Palace and got encouraged by them to do their best every day. The homeless began painting or writing, making their own supplies from natural sources in the woods. Although still poor, they worked hard and became accepted in society. They would forever remember the girl who taught them that they could always do better. The girl found her way to another place.
The next week, passing all the barriers that the ocean brought to her, the girl found her way to an island. She observed the fishermen on the island, the women who weaved, and the different religions that the mixture of tribes believed in. There had been a few arguments between the tribal leaders regarding cultural values. The girl took it all in. Days flew by at the speed of light, and soon it was the end of the week. She showed the tribals her paintings, three of them total. She had pictured the women as nine-tailed foxes, ancient mythological creatures that passed down traditions and kept them alive. She depicted fox cubs who watched their mothers’ mystical teachings in wonder. To encourage the fishermen, she had drawn them as mermen, masters of the sea. There had been violent thunderstorms the past week, and the fishermen had been so shaken that they hadn’t gone out on the sea, even when the weather cleared. To draw them as mermen made them remember that they had been at sea thousands of times before, that it was their element, and that they had no reason to be afraid. Lastly, she had painted the different tribes and their cultural issues. Depicting the four tribes as different coloured phoenixes, she drew the ones by themselves in a cage. All of them in their separate spaces, withered and powerless. The ones who were working together were fiery and passionate. They looked bold and strong together. Their cultures were merged. This helped the four clans realize that they should be helping one another, and be on each other’s sides. The clans stopped their arguments soon enough and brought their cultures together.
The girl’s work here was done, and she went to the meadow where she kept her bag of food, and art supplies, but this time, she could not leave unnoticed. A younger boy had noticed her. The boy followed her to the meadow and watched her curiously.
“Why did you make the paintings?” he asked. The girl jumped around, surprised.
“Because I wanted to show everyone how their lives looked from my point of view. I wanted to show everyone what the world looks like in my head,” she answered.
“But why did you help us? We are just strangers to you,” he asked. The boy was very observant for his age.
“It doesn’t matter to me where you live, or how little I know you. We all live here together. If we see a problem, shouldn’t we all do something to help fix it?”
“Wow. Did you do this for lots of other tribes?” the boy asked, wide-eyed. The girl smiled knowingly.
“Yes, and I plan on visiting the entire world, and seeing all the places no one has ever seen before,”
“Oh. I wish I could do that. But I’m going to stay and help my father take care of the four tribes. Thank you for helping,” the boy said bashfully. The girl just smiled and nodded.
All the people living in the tribe silently thanked the girl, for showing them what brought out the best in them. During her entire life, she continued to inspire all the people, wherever she went. She never cared about their social status, caste, religion, or skin. She just wanted to express her ideas to the world, and she did that wonderfully. For bringing out the best in everyone she encountered, and showing everyone the world she imagined, and being a true artist, she was forever known as ‘The Painter of Worlds’.
Author ~ Suditi Mukadam Editor ~ Khushi L