May 12, 2011

Colour me happy

My fondest memory of a birthday gift remains to be a box of camel oil pastels. With a typical scenery of a beautiful sunset showcased in enigmatic shades and expert strokes, the box promised to be something I had never seen before. With eyes that shone as if I’d won a million dollars, I slid the case open. My heart skipped a beat as I saw a spread of 24 breathtaking colours. For an 8 year old who always wished to have more than those 12 basic colours for her drawing classes, this was like a double promotion. For minutes, I kept staring at those wax jewels. Then held them closer to my nose to inhale that characteristic whiff that felt oh-so-comforting. This was it, I said to myself. ‘I’ll become an artist someday,’ I proudly announced to my folks, thinking that with this gift the power was purposefully bestowed upon me.

The new box opened up a whole new world for me. 24 colours. TWENTY FOUR colours!! I meticulously rearranged the box and divided it in 2 sets, exclusively putting aside the 12 new shades I’d never used before. As much as I was fascinated by the colours, I was curious to read their names. So there was a sunset orange, a blue-grey, a mint green and some others. With every name I read, I actually imagined the colour in its rightful place. How could they’ve come up with such exact descriptors, I was amazed to see. Then, as a challenge, I went about observing everyday things and coming up with my own set of shades.

For beginners, there was the Sindhi Kadhi colour – a mix between yellow and burnt orange. Then there was the very fresh Chutney green, which was unlike any other green the new box offered. Winters brought with it the Jaipuri Razai blue, while summers were spent slurping the kala-khatta colour off ice golas. A trip to nani’s house meant revisiting a Lifebuoy red and a Bajaj Chetak blue. And school was all about the chalkboard grey (or was it a dirty green?) and ofcourse, the Sisters with their faded muddy brown sarees.

With years, my love for the name-game has only grown stronger. Not to say, now I have a new colour vocabulary altogether. From the Deep Kiss Pink to the Lonely Lavender, from the Old Book Yellow to the Dried Rose Red – there are colours that have chosen to stay with me, while there are some that have just thrown a hint and left never to return.

There are so many more colours to explore, so much more to ‘tag’. And someday, I’d love to capture it all and stack it neatly in a box to be able to pick one everyday and live the colour I wish. But for now, I continue to occasionally stop by stationery shops and take a closer look at the colour boxes to read the names on the wax sticks.

I’ve realized, you need to think out of the box for things that go into it.


girish said...

Ha! I can actually 'see' the box you described.

Good one.

Unknown said...

It's amazing how you've described the way you felt about the colouring set! I felt like you were reading out of my childhood memory! How I too was keen on the names of every colour and see how and where they'd fit in, in the real world...back then there was so much exploration to do, ooh, mint green...where else can i see it? Mint leaves maybe? Is it only mint leaves? Oh but the mint chewing gum isn't green! Pudin-hara green isn't the same?! Today, it's just mint green...hmm..let's google that.

So much for out of the box and me! :/

bhumika said...

@girish - thank you! :)

@priyanka - i like long comments :) so thank you. yea, some colours can never be replaced with any other. and no google will have an answer to it, i bet!

Anil P said...

What a lovely evocation of the pleasant surprise at receiving so wondrous a gift.

I share your fascination for the names colours are given, and they seem so perfect.

I hope some of the drawings you coloured with those pastels are still around, and if they are, maybe they'll find their way to the next post.

bhumika said...


good to see you around after such a long time. yes, i still do have a couple of my drawings and sketches back home. will surely post them someday, if not in the next post :)

Sonali Jagat said...

I soo wish you publish a book of yours someday! There is hardly anything written these day which is so close to the heart and honest. Very well written!! I am proud of you.

Dita said...

Oh my God! Can't believe there is somebody else who remembers the box of oil pastels so vividly! This post is like reading myself and my feelings...I have a name for every colour I just comes to yesterday I was describing a brick colour as "Bournvita in milk" ...