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Ekphrasis - Words Embracing Art


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Ekphrasis - when words embrace art. The word comes from the Greek for the description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical exercise.

My friend Linda, introduced me to this term first. I didn't know it before.

"Like the Ode to a Grecian Urn, that John Keats wrote enthused by a Grecian urn?" I asked.

"Exactly." Linda said.

Since then I came across quite a few examples which I will elaborate another time.

As a fiction writer I thought about a story I wrote after creating a jewelry piece. I love to make jewelry and while I string the beads I sometimes think of stories.

I can say it's an ekphrastic piece then. Here is my story:

Do you know the power of the healing gemstone- Blue Apatite?

At the grocery store, the lady next in line looked at me, sort of funny, “Isn’t this Anindita?” Her voice chimed. I tried to remember her face.

“Lady Brabourne College, Calcutta, India, remember? I am Anjuli.-- she said with a big smile.

“Of course I remember, Anjuli,” I gave her a tight hug.

My! Anjuli must have gained a hundred pounds! But I bit my tongue before blabbering out -You have changed so much. Instead I said, “How long has it been, Anju- thirty years?”

Anjuli was our college queen. She was the tennis champion, college representative for Debate Tournaments, and the most popular gal in the campus. I was not in her close friend circle, rather one in her fan club.

I fancied keeping track of the gossips that hummed around her- how different suitors and young men tried to approach her and how with swift swings, spins and smashes she handled them like her ping pong game. I remembered that one day a young guy just to show off to his friends started flirting with her. It was hilarious.

“Remember the guy who held a bet with his friends to show off that he knew you?” I had said later, and she simpered.

“So who’s the lucky winner finally? Is it Ron?”

“Yes,Ron.” A shy yet strange smirk rose on her lips and faded.

“Have time today? I have to kill an hour before I pick up my child from his S.A.T. tutorial.” She asked.

“Absolutely. I have to make time.” I said, jerking my head. “There is so much to catch up.”

We found a tiny table in Barbara’s Bakery, a cute cafe next to the store, and chatted away. And this is where I looked forward to find her every Wednesday for the next few weeks. We opened our lives to each other over cups of lattes and the gourmet goodies Barbara baked and displayed.

I came to know that from the best student Anjuli became the best mom, the best neighborhood volunteer, and the best home maker in town. Then the ‘Supermom syndrome’ hit her when she found she had nothing else left for herself.

“I was exhausted, you know. With several surgeries and health problems, pounds piled up upon me.”

“Not that I was unaware. I tried different diets and each time it sank me a bit more at the end. It was like I was walking on a quick pit.” She sighed. “ When I look in the mirror, I wonder who is this? My face has changed. I am lost. Anindita.” She said, turning her face, looking faraway. “ I hide myself from me. I choose clothes that hide my body these days. Can you believe that?” Her eyes welled up.

” Then I hid myself from Ron. I tried to escape from him until our marriage withered and died.” She sniffled.

“It’s all me, it’s all my fault. I don’t blame Ron a bit. But in reality, in action, I did it every day. I blamed, blamed, blamed him every day for everything- from squeezing the toothpaste the wrong way, watching the wrong T.V.shows, spending his own earned money….

I left him. I tore down the nest that I had built with so much care."

She paused. Fixing her gaze far away, she added:

“You know- deep down I felt Ron did not deserve this Anju. It’s not fair to him. He’s too good for me. He’s my first love, and perhaps I love him more than myself. But he’d never know that.” I didn’t know what to tell. Just listened.

” You know who comes to rescue, to comfort, to put emollient on my wound?” She asked, looking straight in my eyes. And I shook my head.

” This soft cream on the warm bun.” She took a long lick with her eyes closed. Then abruptly with a jerk, she shoved off her plate across the table.

Tears rolled down her cheeks. I held her hand. It was time to go. It was time to let go.

Next week she agreed to my proposal of taking a walk around the block instead of visiting Barbara’ bakery while we caught up with our stories.

I told her about my new hobby of doing jewelry and my dilemma about taking it as a business. The agony of the financial struggle of doing what you love to do, no matter what.

Next week we found a Weight Watching meeting place that existed at the other side of the shopping center.

A month later, Anju achieved her first 5% weight loss goal. We celebrated it having French manicure done on our nails. We discovered this beauty parlor at the end of our two miles walking route.

Soon Anju will be on her 10% loss goal. She was almost there. I made a knitted wire bracelet for her to celebrate that. It’s with blue apatite gemstone beads and mid night blue fresh water pearls knitted with silver wire.

I studied that apatite is a balancing stone that helps suppress food craving. It helps in concentrating and meditation. It helps with anger and negativity and restores the physical, emotional and spiritual balances.

Pearl brings good fortune, love, and a general sense of wellbeing.

May the healing stones keep their promises- with this prayer I’ll offer her my humble creation.

Shouldn’t I make one for myself too? What do you think?