Saturday, June 4, 2016

Garuda, the Bird God

Chapter 3 came together very slowly. 
It was hard for me to draw and imagine 
my grandfather in his final days.

I plunged into the details, to distract myself from the 
solemnity of the task at hand. 

After a few weeks, my publisher Irene from Ekaré came to visit me and look through the work.
She entered the studio with a package delicately wrapped in white tissue paper. Before beginning our session, she said she had to show me something. As she unwrapped the package she told me it was the first second-hand book she had ever bought, and that she had purchased it in Germany in 1978 (the year of my birth).

It was a catalogue of an exhibition of Indian miniature paintings.
She said that looking through the new work, she couldn't stop thinking about how miniaturist my drawings had become, and wanted to show me the catalogue.

It was wonderful...all the details, the colors. 

And then, I came across a page and stopped dead in my tracks.
It was this image of the Bird God, Garuda, carrying Rama and Sita on his back and flying to the skies. 

Irene asked me what the matter was when she saw my reaction, so I pulled out a sketch I had made two years earlier. It was similar in so many ways, and my version had been lacking in details.
Seeing this miniature would eventually help me resolve what for me is one of the most crucial scenes of the book.
It was exactly what I needed.

When writing and planning this part of the book, I had thought
that this moment should be the first divine and fantastical one. 
And that before departing, my grandfather would transform into Garuda and take Nani on a ride through the skies and show her all the homes of her children where she would now live.

It would be a scene that mixes magic, fantasy, Bollywood kitsch,
love, sadness and celebration.
I had been so blocked and reluctant to make this image, 
and all of a sudden, I could think of nothing else...

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