Gone to colours!

By Jing Villamil

SOMETIMES, life’s stories seem more magnificently unlifelike, more of an untruth, than the Tagalog, Mexican, Korean, Chinese telenovelas we watch out for at the end of the day. Is it, maybe, the reel scenes seem more acceptably vivid in perspective coming to us from the screen rather than the real drama unfolding right before our very own eyes?

Take this rare breed to which our storyteller belonged. She was the latest leasee of a house in a subdivision far from the maddening crowd. And on the day she arrived in her Volks and the hauler just right behind, she attracted the curiosity of the residents young and older and old. She had the most unusual haul! Canvasses of all sizes; cans and tins of paints and dyes, bottles of smelly thinner; stack of a painter’s wooden stands and frames and folding chairs; tubs of brushes of varied widths; paint-stained sheets, towels, aprons, gloves. No bed, just a king-sized mattress and tables extendable. And two pretty cribs: one steady on its feet, one rocker. Obviously, she was a painter. Obviously, she was very pregnant ready to burst. But not so obvious then, she had no husband, not a Papa in sight.

According to the haulers who can’t keep their loose mouth shut, she was commissioned to produce a hundred paintings of the sea, sand and sun for the almost hundred rooms of a big new hotel built so far from the beaches. The paintings must be realistic enough so the tourists and guests would wish, even demand, to be brought to the actual beaches, for extra charges! Of course. She was the best artist they could find. And she didn’t come cheap. Also, she will not come without a house to be productive in. Of course.

She was pretty, with long black hair mostly pony-tailed or bunned loosely top of her head. But the kids and the older ones were more enchanted with her long-lashed dark eyes which looked even darker when lost in her work. When those eyes look into theirs, those pair bore deep and seeingly into their depths. They began to believe she was a witch who “saw” and “read” their minds and hearts. She gave a treat of extra fruit to a troubled kid without the kid telling. But she was so pretty they also began to love her inspite of the “strangeness”.

Especially, during weekends, the “curioser” kids step through her gates which she flung wide open only for these two days. She sat them on folding chairs and extendable tables (so that was what these were for!). She would give them smaller painting or writing sets, and an apple (orange, banana, kaimito, etc.), and instruct them to paint whatever, to write whatever, just talk to her later. They learned she was, too, an art teacher in-between commissions. Then, she went back to paint, laundry, clean house, whichever. When the parents learned the kids were safe and will stay enthralled for a few hours more with her, thus happily out of their hair for the time being – they let the artists be. It was a privilege these rich people were glad to have free and worthy.

When the artist-in-their-midst began to labor in earnest, the budding artists she was unknowingly baby-sitting rushed to their houses to call their parents, their small hands wringing distressedly in the air. The parents, for a change, were very knowledgeable in these birthings. They brought her to the hospital, watched over her by schedule. And they raised their well-manicured hands in heavenly praise when the baby howled in earnest. The next day, they brought her home per her request. With her baby. Of course. They took turns holding the baby and singing “lullabies”, from Phantom of the Opera yet, all the way to the house through the night, through the next day, through the rest of the baby’s infanthood!

And these many pretty mommies just couldn’t keep out their hands from the pretty baby from thereon! They again scheduled their free times to looking-into, feeding and caring for the mother and child – the strangers who were now not strangers, but family!

It was practically a wide-scale movie production and set, and all those who lived in the subdivision were actors playing their unauditioned unscripted parts! And so, this real novela of life among the not-famous but rich and now so kind, went on and on for days, for months, for well-past a year.

Until the hundred paintings began to be brought out of the house to be put up on the walls of the hotel.

(To be continued.)

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