Where do I stand now?
Last night was one night I spent in solidarity. Thoughts run helter skelter and no medium of a cage captures them.
With little patience to draw out any notebook or piece of paper, I let them all dissolve away in the alma mater, leaving behind residues of vague memories of them.
Snippets of what went on in there; I'm sure a hundred other people may have felt the same too sometime in their busied lives.
Where did I come from, and where am I headed?
Upon reaching mental maturity, I had far too many ambitions. Nothing to do with self, my being wasn’t important. It was always in me, to portray a message through my artwork, or writing, or do or make something that could help someone else out. Yes, part of it was this want to do any thing related to social design. I remember my first day at college, when we had our orientation class, where we were made to state what we want to do later with the aid of design. I piped in, social design, aid education using design, help create products that can better people’s lives, or initiate a program that can help them find their means of livelihood.
How much of that happened in full scale? Near to zilch. I used to teach art and geography during our SUPW sessions, at two schools; Indira Gandhi International academy, a school for srilankan refugee children, and LBS nagar, a slum close to Yelahanka.
During my time there, I had immense difficulty communicating. IGIA had children who spoke Tamil, and LBS nagar, housed children who understood nothing beyond the Kannada dialect. It was a strange experience, where a=often a lot of messages were conveyed across to a hearing and speaking individual in sign language. Who said disabilities only had to do with all the working processes of our body. This was the biggest disability of them all. The kids laughed, with my struggle to teach them with my broken Kannada. Tamil of course, went over my head, though there was one girl who saved the day there, she could speak in Hindi.
The daily struggle ended when I graduated from senior school and then got into srishti. The thought about being able to communicate with them lingered.
Hence, why I stated that I wanted to do social design.
As my first year final project, I put my still weak illustrative skills to use, and devised a placard system that denoted daily activities, illustrated, with the English words and its Kannada equivalent written on it. These cards would be used as a method of communication, so both the child and I would have little trouble talking. This way, through practice, I would learn the language, and the kids would learn English in a simplified manner. I managed to complete some 200 cards. The weren’t the best, but somehow worked when I experimented with my maid’s children. Soon after the project submission, I made a resolution that I would work on the project and better it. Finish what I started.
That regrettably did not happen. Another year of design slowly dissipated the social worker in me. Second blow that wanted me to revert to social design was a trip to melkote, a temple town riddled with age old traditions of immense caste discrimination. I’m sure if they found out I was a Muslim living within their midst, they would have slaughtered us. This time, it was to reach out to the lowest rung of the society that lived in the outskirts of the town, almost as though banished from being existent. With no potable water to drink, scarcity of food, aid and any decent sense of living conditions, I yearned to work on a project that could help better their life styles, without being independent on those who sat above them in the caste order. That was another abandoned concept. I did illustrate and write a children’s book, to push them forward, let them free of their inhibitions and make them feel equal to everyone else. Lack of time yielded a not so good project, but the want to create such books lingered. For a while
Now came the time to chose our streams of design, what best suited our skill sets and interests. First option was visual design; my illustrative skills had bettered a lot by then. The other option was product/ furniture design. I liked hands on work.
I stuck by my first priority, till I was placed into the viscom class. The first few seconds, I had a sudden brainwave that I wouldn’t last out here, and this was not what I wanted to do. I ran out immediately and enlisted myself into the furniture batch. Now my bid to work towards a social cause dimmed down so much, that by the end of my first year in specialization I was left with a hazy blur of what I previously wanted to do. My goals and motives, and so many new angles, that the very first path I took on was lost.
Now I look back and see, I have progressed a lot in terms of knowledge, thought processing, and skills. But areas of applications for the same have changed so much.
I now design furniture that looks good in a fine furnished apartment of a well off or filthy rich people. I’m aiding that market, and doing nothing for those who need it.
Was it maturity that changed my mind, and added those extra layers of blinds across my eyes, that I have lost out where I started from?
An artist never can abandon an artwork. I cannot make false promises, but now do resolve to start off where I had started. Furniture is my means of livelihood. But this is food for the soul. Though I cannot retrace all the erased footsteps taken, I can restart here on, and possibly work on something that aids those kids at LBS nagar. I still see them, walk past the bus stop, their books held in their hands, and a not so keen look upon their faces.