Uttara was a tired woman; you could see it from the way she painted; greyer shades of colour would be used, slothful strokes of the brush showed her lack of interest in what the world had to offer, and sometimes, she’d forget her incomplete work out in the verandah, only to find out the next morning that the tears that the clouds shed in mourning for the death of any purpose she had in life had washed away whatever she had drunkenly scribbled on them.
There was a time when the brush strokes used to give birth to art less melancholy. Uttara would depict things more beautiful on her canvas; children, love, music, nature, sex, even what her perception of God was. He was loveless; her God, and yet there was a time she felt that he existed; existed only, and only for her. She’d get glimpses of him in her dreams, and the dreams would turn into paintings that depicted him making love to her; his talons piercing through her olive skin, his silver wings spread out in their full bloom, his balmy lips perched on her flakey, radiating skin. Portraits of his perfectly cut face adorned the walls of her tiny bedroom, and even that left her unsatisfied.
She dreamt of painting a masterpiece; something along the lines of Botticelli’s Venus and Mars. For she was his Venus, and he, her Mars. It had been years now, she remembered; years since she had started painting what was meant to be her masterpiece; she remembered dipping her brush in bright colours, stroking it as she watched the meaningless white of the canvas turn into poetry, until one cold December afternoon, the wretched God abandoned the truth in her worship for a prettier, more luscious lie, and her poem lay there incomplete, just as abandoned as she was.
For years, she had told herself to not open the trunk that held the canvas; for years until today.
The day began in it’s usual monotony, as she found herself in school, teaching uninterested children how to draw mangoes and flowers, painting for things she didn’t care about; money, food, a roof over her head. Alone, amidst sneering colleagues who could never understand, let alone appreciate; strangers to her, just like the God she had once loved.
It was a Monday or Tuesday, she didn’t know. All she knew was that today, she felt especially mellow, and not knowing why made it even worse. As she showered, she felt the warmth of her tears get mixed with the colder droplets the showerhead spat over her, as if to tell her that her life was meaningless; that godlessness was a sin that deserved to be punished with obliteration.
It was on her way back that things took a turn; for the better or the worse, she did not know. She stopped for coffee, and saw him across the road, walking by the old café; cigarette pressed between his porcelain lips, a sinful devotee in his arms, her mouth whispering filthy prayers to his ears.
He was wearing glasses, as if to hide the shame, but his eyes were wide open; large, dark eyes. There was a tinge of surprise in them when they met hers, and with a passing breath, Uttara thought he might break into a dreamy smile like he used to a few hundred years ago. For a moment, she felt the urge to pray again; to sacrifice her body to him, and sacrifice her soul. To be one with him for the rest of eternity.
But even eternities don’t last forever, and she realized that as he turned away, turning into someone else’s eternity right before her.
It was time for her to finish her masterpiece;
Today, the strokes of her brush liberated her; She could finally breathe again. She was free of the supernatural, and he, a mere mortal.
He had lost today. He lost diamonds and emeralds that adorned his skin; the satin shawls that covered his flaws, keeping secrets that even he didn’t know. Perhaps falling from grace for mortals isn’t much of a botheration. But what happens when a God has fallen? Are there earthquakes? Are there storms? Does lava flow through the sinful cities, sending sinners to damnation? Or is it that none of those things happen, and shame is all that stands between the God and his mortals. Does he turn into a tramp on whom men and women more successful spit? At least that is what she painted him to be; a travesty under the façade of holiness.
As blood leaked from her veins and fell onto the palette, she watched herself paint a planet stripped of all the hope, and a goddess abandoning the wretch. And with her final breath, she ran her brush across the bloodied canvas one last time, the way his fingers would run across her face.