Stained Orange – Anan Ashraf

Anan Ashraf

Rains were warm. Warm like blood; like sex. With a rawness beyond the understanding of the one on the other side of the window.

Hands stained with paint, she sat.

A pallet of orange, black and brown beside. She stared outside the window and back onto her canvas.

Throwing her brush down in frustration, she ran her paint stained hands through her unruly hair tying it into a loose knot. Black hair stained orange.

Anan Ashraf
Anan Ashraf

The canvas stayed blank.

He knew she was at work. He had heard the muffled thud of the paint brush on them heavy carpets. He knew the canvas was still blank.

Walking into the bedroom, he loosened the tie. There were footprints in red on the white tiled floor.

He walked evading the footprints. There was a letter on the bed. It read:

“The paint ceases to be on canvas,

And I on your bed.

As the artist seeks her art,

The trail is set, the clues are in place

Seek and find what was never yours.”

He sought the footprints. Tasted it. It was sour.

Puffing away at her cigarette, she dressed her bleeding feet. Looking up at the blue kite with yellow tails, she wondered… These broken kites. Do they fly off onto higher grounds or die tethered to the branch?

Untying her choker, she buried it in the ground beside. She pulled at one of her unruly strands of hair. A black strand stained orange marked where the choker lie.

The waitress looked on surprised as she cleared the dustbin of the pub: in the bin was a bunch of dark hair… stained orange.

Toes sunk in the mud. There was a stain of blood in the footprint that the muck soon dissolved.

In the bright moonlight there glowed a form. An owl flying overhead wondered at the stillness of the form in the water below. The night was blue. Inky blue. Her skin glowed like alabaster. Alabaster of grief.

The unrestful deer loitered thirsty amidst the growth. He watched admiringly from the bushes as the creature drew out of water. Naked. Her breasts dripping the river. The river slipped lustfully down her waist. The creature ran its hands over a perfectly shaped smooth head.

“Why don’t you seek her? She left you clues and has been away for a week for Christ’s sake!”, his close friend shouted.

He took a deep puff before quoting the second paragraph of the letter-

“Art deceives thou as time

The light is deceptive, not the shadow

In the footnote of your heart, I dwell

In the alley where search means being lost

My arms be open this way you walk

Follow not the ants but termites,

Stench and not roses

You will find me when you seek me not

Not seeking would guide your way, oh seer.”

Three months later, amidst coffee and biscuits, he opened the paper.

“Original work by artist found. At the opening of the ocean buried in silt, a team of ocean scroungers found the piece of canvas titled ‘The seer’ painted in shades of orange, brown and black. A team of scientists suggested that the colors contain human DNA. The colors been derived from blood, hair and skin respectively.  The painting has been forwarded….”

There was a clink on glass.

Anan Ashraf is a second-year graduate student of Journalism and mass communication at English and Foreign Languages University, Shillong campus.

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