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Canvas of Life

by Fehmida Zakeer

The doctor assured her, “Don’t worry, you will be able to see colours again. They could come one at a time or all together. You are lucky to have escaped with minor injuries. If the table had been solid wood instead of particleboard, your injury could have been grievous.”

Two colours defined Maya’s world now, black and white, just like her husband’s favourite medium, charcoal on paper. He had not taken kindly to the magazine review that panned his work as drab and dark — an unfriendly and maudlin universe, the writer called it. Of course, it had not helped that the same article eulogised her paintings as a layered explosion of colours.

She loved to dabble with colour, mixing and matching to create new shades. She rarely used black or white by themselves, rather she used them to coax tints and hues to her palette. Now she could not even make out whether the jagged spots near her lips, under her eyes, on her nose were red or blue or purple.

The phone rang insistently and Maya woke up with a start. Her hand trailed across the expected empty coldness of the bed on the other side and lifted the receiver. An unfamiliar voice confirmed her identity, and then named a hospital and requested her to come as soon as possible.

She sat up straight on the bed and dialled her friend’s number with shaking fingers. Streetlights were still on, though the pale rays of the sun were increasingly taking over the sky as the car sped towards the hospital.

She saw two police officers waiting near the entrance of the casualty ward. A fog hovered around her head as one of them kept up a litany while they walked towards the far side of the ward screened off by a line of curtained dividers. She barely registered his words — totally drunk, a sand lorry, certified dead on arrival.

They stopped near a gurney covered with a white cloth. The police officer gently lifted the cloth to reveal the face. Yes, it was her husband all right, he appeared to be sleeping except for the thin strip of bandage covering his forehead, a blot of blood on the left side marred its total whiteness.

As she gazed at him, the circular red spot leapt into her vision demanding recognition. She jerked her head abruptly and looked out of the window; her hand went to her throat as her eyes flitted in frenzy from the pale blue sky to the sunflowers dancing along the borders of the green lawn outside.

She could see colours again!

Copyright © 2010 by Fehmida Zakeer

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