Open the creaky louvered balcony door wide, and step outside.
What do you see? Tell me the color of the sky.
The wind seems to be picking up - I can hear the lush green sycamore leaves rustling outside.
Crowds were beaming with joy and overflowing the main avenue. They lead the way to Bastille, then on to Arc de Triomphe. Another bright summer day has come and people were joining arms, laughing, singing and dancing.
I was one of the many spectators sitting on the balcony fanning myself while looking down and afar at the joie de vivre. I had a white dress on that was tailored-made for this occasion. The dress resembled wavelets that gently lap at the shore.
I felt like a bird wanting to escape the confines of my cage and my only hope was to fly in an open sky. I could no longer deceive my feelings of wanting to be free. My mind struggled with the pressure of society. It was as if I was flapping my wings, smashing myself on the cage, and bleeding. I could not help but try to fly.
I first picked up the paintbrush when I was 16 years old. I still have a vivid memory of my chest beating so fast at that very moment. The more I delved into painting, the voices that surrounded me got louder.
"It is no use pursuing to paint. Marrying and having kids is the best choice for a woman."
Those were all noise to me, and I did not want to hear it.
My only desire was to paint, that is all.
My inner voice was heard, by him. I was reproducing a painting of Rubens at one of the galleries at the Louvre when a person came up to me, glanced at my sketch and whispered, "This is exquisite." His gaze was intense when I looked back at him. With his dark whiskers and an intent look, he whispered again, "It's possessive - your line drawing, and you, too."
When he asked, "Would you pose for me?" I replied, "No, because I am an artist and not a model. My self esteem will get in the way and I will be too self conscious trying to pose." He then responded with ease, "If you wish to become a true artist, you should not hesitate to pose as a model. Seeing from the model's perspective enlivens your art. Set an example and capture the permanent beatitude on canvas."
What he said made sense to me. I started posing for him on the sofa at home, at his atelier, and on the balcony. I had posed dressed on all occasions, but I will confess that we did, kiss once - wistfully, as a sign of my appreciation.
We were young then. For hours on end we would have heated arguments at cafés almost every night about art, beauty, the revolution of art and the new era to come! After we critiqued each other's work at our friend's ateliers, we would empty green-bottled Absinthes and pass out, resting our chins on our palms. We all pitched in, helped each other rent gallery spaces and held our own exhibits. Most people who came to see the exhibit pointed fingers at our paintings and ridiculed. They saw them as works of a child and called them scribble art. Some art critics would say, "The world has come to an end when the artists paint just from their impressions. Let's call them, the Impressionists!"
In the beginning, he established himself as one of our key members, then continued to watch us grow.
"Your time will come soon, so be patient," he muttered. His prediction became reality.
I had longed for someone who would release me from my cage and let me fly free - into the sky of infinity.
"Don't you want to set me free?" I inquired.
"Why do you ask? You are already free. You were free, from the moment you decided to become an artist," he replied, smiling.
Eventually, I married his brother and had my one and only daughter. She became my other precious treasure, besides painting. Her uncle and her father both passed on to the heavens above, leaving me behind. Someday, I will start preparing for my trip too, leaving behind many treasures, in this world.
Now open the louvered balcony door, step outside, and tell me how blue the sky is.
The wind seems to be picking up - the wind of liberty is breezing your way.