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Previous Winners

Eternal Colours

 Vidhi Bagadia

The first and last painting of the day had just been sold. Saurav looked out in the blackness of the night and sighed. When he looked back inside, he saw nothing but piles of paintings stocked at every corner of the room – barely touched and barely looked upon.

He then looked at the empty canvas that stood on the easel to his right. It had been five weeks since he had left his home to start anew; four weeks since he had had only a customer or two knocking at his doorstep (most times, it would only be kids trying to skip in to take pictures); and three weeks since he had picked up the brushes.

He had just begun bundling and packing up a few of his landscapes when the bell attached to the door jingled. Without looking up, he shouted, “no more photos tonight! The shop’s closing,” and continued wrapping the paintings in brown paper.

For the next few seconds, he heard no noise, no shuffle; and when he turned around, he gave a slight wince and jumped back in surprise – his hands slapped against his mouth and his words stuck somewhere inside his throat. He swallowed hard and then whispered, ever so lightly that only he could hear what he had said. “Dad?”

The man with the grey beard and round glasses, who had been sitting on a chair lined up next to the left wall stood up, balancing his weight on the stool. He spoke nothing but just took a stroll around the room. And Saurav watched him do so in absolute silence – not like he had the strength to speak anything anyway.

Finally, after a few minutes, the man took off his glasses and stood right in front of Saurav, who looked an inch or two taller than his father.
“Dad, I – ”he started but words barely made way out of his mouth. “I’m sorry,” he said at last, “I know this is not exactly a decent lifestyle right now but I promise this will turn out okay in – ”

The bone crashing hug cut Saurav out of his syllables and it spoke enough words for both of them. For a moment, he just stood frozen under the weight of his father, but the next second, he found his arms wrapping around his father of their own accord, tears slipping out of his eyes. He was determined to push that off as ‘something that just went in’.

"Dad," Saurav murmured.

His father pulled away, put his glasses back on and without speaking a word, walked over to the doorway. But right before he could pull the handle and step outside, he gave the faintest of a smile, the one Saurav could catch immediately, and said, “I’m proud of you, my son.”

And that night, the empty canvas did not remain barren anymore.



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