Aru was sitting somewhere in the back of the packed auditorium. The auditorium was supposed to accommodate 2000 students at a time. But were there just 2000 students here today? Aru felt that a lot more than 200 souls were present in this auditorium.
Of course, not all were aspiring students. Many came with their parents or other family members. Aru saw several hundred muses as well in the crowd. She too was sitting in the auditorium with her muse – Pari, sitting elegantly on her right shoulder.
The student orientation program was supposed to help students select their major. Every department was giving their pitch. One by one the head of department would come and tell the aspirants what they are looking for and what the students should expect from the program.
After the orientation, they would have to submit their preference order and then wait to be accepted by some department. Everyone knew this process long before setting foot in this auditorium. Just like everyone knew all about the departmental pitches. No one needed to hear them decide their preference order.
This university was THE university for art students. Artists from this program get featured in all the top museums all around the world. Getting into an art program here was next to impossible and art program was what everyone wanted.
Aru wanted to get into the art program too.
When the Head of the Art Program came on the stage, Aru moved to sit a little straighter in her seat. She leaned forward a bit and then saw almost everyone around her doing the same. This was why everyone was here. This is what everyone was waiting for.
The lights were dimmed and the projector was turned on. A famous painting was displayed along with the Artist’s picture. Aru has seen this painting so many times. Well, not the original painting but seen pictures of the painting.
The Head of the Art program started speaking about the painting and the artist. Aru tried to focus on her words instead of focusing on the painting.
“There are hundreds of paintings by this artist. Each one is more mysterious than the next. Each painting using one single colour and one subject. A faceless figure painted in red. A shade of red so deep and yet so bright. No one has been able to replicate the same shade of the red. And do you know why?
When the artist died, doctors found an old and deep wound on his chest right next to his heart. There have been no tests to confirm this theory but it is a popular belief that he used his blood to paint.
This is the kind of dedication we seek from our students. This is the kind of passion that might just attract an art muse to you.
If you don’t have what it takes to be an artist, then there are other programs offered in this university. I strongly advise you to look for alternative paths. Path of art is not easy.”
Saying this she turned around and sat back on her seat on the stage. She barely spoke for two minutes. And she only talked about some tragic story about some artist. He wasn’t that famous either.
This confused Aru and probably others too. But their confusion ended the next day when only 10 students were selected for the coveted art program. Just 10 out of thousands present in the auditorium. Aru didn’t even know how many actually applied.
Aru wanted this art program really badly. But instead of going to a different university Aru choose to stay and join a different program. Computer Sciences – that was the only department which accepted Aru’s application.
Months went by rather quickly once classes started. Aru settled into a comfortable routine. Going to classes during the day and hanging out with the few friends she made during the evening. But it was the nights she really longed for. The nights were when she took out her canvas and her paints and she would just pour her heart out.
It didn’t matter what she painted. It didn’t matter how late she stayed up painting. As long as she had her brush in her hand and her muse on her shoulder she was happy.
This happiness was what helped Aru go through the day to day struggle of her course. It wasn’t that she hated computer programming. She enjoyed giving commands to the machine and then see the commands being executed perfectly. Even when she had to spend hours debugging some piece of code, she managed to find some beauty in that.
The first semester went by rather smoothly. Aru did well in most of her subjects. After the semester, the University announced that the famed artist and a prominent name in the art world Ms Meera, was coming to the campus to inaugurate the new library. In her honour the university was putting together a display of art by the students.
Pari got very excited by this announcement and begged Aru to put up her paintings on display as well. Aru knew that chances of her paintings getting selected were bleak, still, she went to the coordinator. Aru was told that since she didn’t belong to the Art department, her paintings could not be displayed with other art students. She was asked to go to her department head and try her luck there.
When she went to the Computer department, she was told that her department was displaying only infographics and not any paintings. She came back disappointed. Pari was probably more disappointed than her but she couldn’t be sure. Pari disappeared and didn’t come back for days. Aru was not too worried as this had happened before. Pari would sometimes go away for days and then come back behave as nothing had happened.
This time Pari came back right on the day of the inauguration. Pari was super excited and begged Aru to skip the ceremony and go to the west wing parking lot overlooking the mountain and paint that landscape today.
Aru was surprised at the request but the more she thought about it, she liked the idea. Everyone would be at the inauguration in the east wing and the west wing parking lot would be empty. No one would stop her or even see her painting. This would be a great time to paint during day time. The lighting would be perfect too.
Aru quickly gathered her supplies and went with Pari to the empty parking lot. There she found a corner and sat down to paint. Soon she was lost in her painting to notice the few cars coming to this parking lot. The east wing parking lot must have been full for people to start coming to this far off parking space.
In any case, Aru was not bothered. No one was noticing her anyways. She was free to paint as she liked. She sat there all day. Food and rest were not needed when she was in her own trance-like state.
The inauguration must have ended as many people were returning to get their cars and go back. Sun was already set and Aru was trying to make the most of the last minutes of light before even she would have to go back to her room.
That’s when she noticed someone standing behind her. Fearing that she might be blocking someone’s way, she quickly turned to apologies. When she turned she came face to face with none other than the famed artist Ms Meera. This unexpected encounter made Aru fumble and she tripped over her own foot and fell down. Pari started laughing at her clumsiness. Just as Aru expected from Pari.
What Aru did not expect was Ms Meera helping her get up and then proceeding to check her unfinished painting. After checking the painting, she turned to Aru and asked her about her muse Pari. When Aru told her that Pari is a happiness muse had been with her since she was nine, Ms Meera corrected her. She told Aru that Pari was the rarest of the muses.
Pari was the Art muse everyone coveted so much and Aru already had her. That must mean that Aru must be a great artist. When Aru told her that she wasn’t even selected for the Art program, Ms Meera told her that the university did not decide who was an artist or not. Being an artist is much more than having a degree.
Being an artist meant making art which Aru was already doing.