Black Blotches

The water spilled from the glass and rushed ahead on the paper. Before Sarthak could do away with the brushes in his hand and rescue his painting the damage had been done. The water colors dissolved and mingled leaving an ugly smudge on the painting.

Sarthak didn’t know now what to do. His eyes welled up. Only fifteen minutes for the competition to end and the hard work of two hours lay spoiled due to a clumsy body movement! He cursed himself for not putting away the glass of water .

He panicked and his body seemed to have frozen . His beautiful painting was meant to win the competition. Now it’s smudged and useless. A sudden sharp ringing sound suddenly tormented his eardrums and he cupped his ears in excruciating pain. He could feel the tears rolling down his cheek.

He woke up sobbing everything was a blurr. To his relief he was in his bed and the alarm bell was still ringing. A smile emerged on his tear stained face.

“ Oh!  It was just a bad dream..

The competition was today and nothing had gone wrong for real. His heart fluttered with joy. But the horror of the dream was so real that he still wasn’t out of it. He felt the need to stay very careful as something bad might happen after all.

Sarthak got ready for the competition . The morning sun had risen with all its glory and the springtime flowers were blooming with joy. The venue of the competition was a lush green park. The children were made to sit on the soft moist grass in the lawn and the art sheets were provided to them.

The judges announced the topics “ Compassion”, “Understanding needs of disabled people”,” Science and the future”. The gong was struck. Sarthak was puzzled. These were not the kind of topics he had ever drawn on . It sounded like an essay writing competition rather than an art competition. For a long time he tried to think of something but the sinking feeling he had in his dream just magnified. About 30 minutes later for lack of ideas he decided to draw a girl helping a blind man cross a street. ‘How typical’.. he thought but he had to draw something ,couldn’t turn in a blank sheet of paper.

He diligently started painting and finished his work half an hour before time. He felt relieved . The painting was still to dry. He carefully picked up the glass of water and began to remove it first as he didn’t want the nightmare to come true. Suddenly a fellow competitor happened to pass by where Sarthak was sitting and he accidentally bumped on Sarthak’s shoulder. This catapulted an uncontrollable jerky movement and the unthinkable happened. Two large drops of the muddy mix of water from the glass rained down on the painting. The twin drops miraculously landed right on the girls’s eyes and dissolved then instantly. Her face had now two black blotches for eyes. Sarthak froze. The dream was a premonition now. Almost at the verge of panicking , Sarthak started taking deep breaths trying hard not to break down into tears. He slowly started muttering to himself. To have lived the horror in the dream has taken away the novel shock it could have on him. He had already cried over it and now it seemed like something he had known and could not be averted. He mumbled to himself “ You are thirteen years old and you are smart enough to find a way out “

The slight breeze was calming him down and he started looking at the topics intently again. Suddenly in his deep despair and a warrior resolve to help himself he was struck with an AHA moment. He knew what to do. He took his brush and covered the smudge with black paint so that the girl was blindfolded now.

“A blindfolded girl helping a blind man cross the road! .. That’s ridiculous “ He thought to himself. He was stuck again and his heart sank. He gazed at his painting for a while and then his brush started to work again.He converted the blind man’s stick into a hi-tech gadget which looked like a guiding portable robot and by little alteration he changed the hand positions which looked like the blind man was guiding the blindfolded girl.

Sarthak was so engrossed that he forgot to hear the finish bell. Most children and submitted their art sheets. The judges now were themselves coming to pick up the sheets from the kids who were still working. They were speaking encouragingly to  them and giving as much extra time as possible .

Sarthak sat unaware that for the last five minutes the oldest judge was standing and watching him work. When he realized that Sarthak was done, he slowly sat down beside him and looked at the painting.

Sarthak had  converted the blind man’s stick into a hi-tech gadget which looked like a guiding portable robot and by little alteration he changed the hand positions which looked like the blind man was guiding the blindfolded girl. Then he had captioned  the painting.

As he seemed to have finished the painting, the judge picked up the  painting and  adjusted his glasses to read the caption.

“THE FUTURE : Where children would learn compassion by understanding through experiencing other people’s disability. Where science would be so advanced that the disabled could guide themselves and others.”

Sarthak looked at the judge nervously. The aged kind eyes glimmered through the glasses . He gazed at the painting speechlessly for a while and then looked at Sarthak . Then he  removed his glasses and put his hand on Sarthak’s head blessing him before walking away with a gentle heart warming smile.

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