|"Blind Man" by Malani|
Joseph had the whole world against him it seemed. Last week his fiancée of three years had given her ring back to him without cause. A few days later he learned of his favorite aunt’s passing, but didn't have the time to travel to her funeral. This past weekend he had to give up his champion dog to an animal shelter. The neighbors in his condominium didn't appreciate the pitter-patter of his dog’s feet running across on the hardwood floors. This morning his BMW broke down and he was late to work, late enough that they let him go. It wasn't the first time he was late, but the first time he had a legitimate excuse.
Lost in his despair, his feet carried him into a park, the clapping of his Italian leather shoes against the cobbled stones echoing between the well manicured hedges. His custom black suit stood out amongst the green trees, the blooming wild flowers, and the tranquil ripples of a nearby pond. Joseph was numb with emotional burden and blind to it all.
He found an empty bench and collapsed. Through the miasmic deluge of misery plaguing his fragile state of mind, Joseph heard the mesmerizing and beautiful calling of a bird. When he lifted his head and allowed his ears to follow the sound, he didn't find a bird at all. It was a man, an old man, whistling cheerfully as he applied paint to canvas.
Joseph watched the old man. He seemed to be a professional in the way he carefully chose his colors, and how he slowly and deliberately moved his brush across the painting. Yet, his clothes told a different story. They were tattered, well worn, and stained. Not stained with paint, not entirely, but from what seemed like weeks, perhaps months, of neglect. A collection bucket sat near his feet.
Intrigued, Joseph forgot his troubles and approached the old man from behind. The painting was awash with brilliant colors but lacked any detail.
“It’s beautiful.” Joseph hadn't intended for those words to come out, but they did anyway.
The old man didn't divert his attention, nor stop whistling. In mid-stroke he finally replied, “Beauty is where you find it, son.”
“How long did it take you to paint that?”
“What’s today’s date?” the old man asked as he attentively dabbed a fine threaded brush onto the canvas.
Joseph was puzzled. “2006 of course.”
The old man picked up a different brush and began mixing the color on his pallet. When the color was just right, he lifted the brush and said, “Nearly two years now.”
“Two years?” Joseph could hardly believe his ears. “Why so long?”
The old man stopped whistling and turned to face Joseph for the first time. His pupils were absent of color.
“Oh, you’re blind.”
“No, but almost.”
“What’s going to happen when you do? You won’t be able to paint anymore.”
“When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
Michael A. Walker
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