Monday, April 16, 2012

Beautifully Happy ? or Happily Beautiful ?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I know.

If only the left brain stayed out of the beholding.

And one man's beauty may be another man's irritation.

Or so it seems.....

She comes home all excited.

They are now doing some full fledged projects at her animation school. Each one has to select a category, and has to, according to some prespecified size norms, create things like posters, hoardings, visiting cards, letterheads, banners, PR gift items etc...after choosing a subject.

She has some in mind, and she rushes home from a very early morning class. She needs to discuss this with someone at home. Toss ideas around. A few lobs and drops and maybe one or more smashing ideas will make it across to those waiting to see.

"Social" or "socially relevant" is a nice broad category. And she wants to make a project to promote adoption , as a social cause. That will be her term project.

She isn't one of those perennially social aware , theoretically highly enabled, verbalizing types. But she herself is adopted, and has seen life on both sides . The early life, which she hardly remembers. And her life within a family where she is always a star. She knows she is adopted, has been aware of it since the "traumatic teens", except her trauma was more to do with weight issues. Today, she is at peace with herself, thrilled with her weight loss, and tickled with compliments on her choice of clothes :-)

Every festival season, she, along with her family, makes a visit to an orphanage where they distribute sweets, gifts, and play with the children. At the end of the visit, she reluctantly says goodbye to the children. She enjoys organizing games for them, talking to them, indulging them, and playing with them a bit, too. And the little ones there, from a crawling baby to a young 3 year old pretending to play cricket using a broken doll as a ball, then get back to their life, as she returns to hers.

She has come up with a wonderful poster with faces of little children all over in the background, some male-female signage hazily drifting there, and amidst various information on institutions handling adoption, a wonderful well known poem , that places the child , not in a womb, but just above, in the heart/below it.

A child, not "expected", but "selected".

Her family watches. Amazed. She suddenly gets a new idea. Google to the rescue. A drag here. A Click there. A critical look. A hint of a smile.

Late into the night, she is done.

She rushes in to class the next morning. The teacher needs to see what she has come up with . The various items may be required to be redesigned. He will comment and suggest. She is supposed to implement.

They say some colors are to be avoided , depending on the subject. Red is considered a "danger" color. You never have that in a place where you convey something childlike and peaceful. Blues, Greens, pale yellows, some pink. So she has heard.......

Her instructor looks at the prepared stuff. Shakes his head. Looks at her, then back at the monitor again. She needs to listen carefully. He will be the one grading her. And he acts tough with those that don't follow .

"The children in your poster, look too happy. It can't be. They almost look beautiful. Change that. You know street children ? Well, that's how the children should look. They are in an orphanage , remember ? How on earth can they be and look so happy and smart ?"

He looks up, and adjusts his tie. Shakes his head. Looks at her to ask if she has understood. He is already late, and must check out 3 more students.

She quietly looks down. Closes her file, Extracts her CD. Packs up her paraphernalia. Wordlessly nods, with apparent respect, something she has learned in the existing schooling system.

All the way home in the bus, she keeps wondering, her thoughts careening through highs and lows, in sync with the potholes on the road.

Was something wrong with her vision ? Was she missing something ? And why was her instructor putting street children in an unhappy slot ?

Street children had parents. Parents who were worried , but helpless; and so the children grew up before their time. Became street smart. She has seen street children in trains. They were tough, but full of empathy for those in a similar boat.

The children at the orphanage where she visited, were simple children who enjoyed the security of a wonderful roof and a feeling of innocent friendship with those around them. They enjoyed decent clothes, meals, careful attention , festival sweets and learned to listen to those older to them.

And they were happy. She should know....

And so she is on the horns of a dilemma.

Should she sit and explain to the instructor, that what he was suggesting was simply not true? She had her unique experience. She had been there, done that. Happy children on the poster would draw potential adoptive parents to the place. What he was suggesting, besides not being true, would keep people away......

He was the sole instructor responsible for the grade, and thence the certificate. Was her ability to clarify and explain things going to be useful ? To a person, who, in an effort to hide his ignorance about the topic, was blithely giving , authoritatively, just plain wrong advice ? Would he be honest enough to credit her with using her actual experience, even though it was completely opposite of what he was advising ?

So she came home that day. Quietly searched again. Dragged, clicked, moved, and placed things. Automatically. She had other subjects to study. She'd submit the project like he wanted, take his grades, and finish, and get her certificate. And she would be alert and careful, if she ended up having to take another software topic with the same instructor later.

She'd finish off her assignments, submit and get her grades. She'd acquire her qualification, and leave.

One thing to learn was the software. The other thing you learned was how much importance to attribute to what someone said, whether it was right, and how much time to spend in rebuttal, particularly in a closed system.

She kept the old poster.

Made another one. The sad variety.

Then very quietly, she deleted her name which she had signed at the bottom right corner.

He might think this poster was beautiful. He beheld. It was his eyes.

She did not. She kept the old poster with her, with the happy children, and her signature at the bottom.

She thought that was wonderful. She too beheld. With her own eyes. And would continue to do so.

They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Sometimes, though, one wonders if the eyes are open............. 

This entry is a part of the contest at in association with