A Gift to Keep
The last of the ladies had left. Leah plonked herself on the sofa, she pulled off her black ballerina shoes, and examined the fair puffy toes. Her girls had really outdone themselves. She could not stop smiling. The balloons, the flowers, the pastel theme, just the baby shower she had dreamt of. Her baby bump showed proudly in the rose gold silk gown. A tiara on her long luscious black mane, a satin sash that read " Mom to Be", she really looked the Queen of her fairy tale. The games, the food everything was perfect.
Now it was time to unwrap the gifts. There was the traditional baby duvet, the baby album, the gift basket, the rattle, the chocolates, the crib...that was from mom. Then there was the large heavy box. Could it be a stroller, Leah wondered. She opened it carefully. The next moment she almost dropped the object and recoiled with a gasp.
The statue of a baby, three feet from the ground. A naked baby with fat arms upraised. The fleshy thighs set apart. But it was the face that caused our hostess to recoil.
The debauched eyes, Leah blushed a bright hue as her hand unknowingly strayed to her throat and rested on the low-cut neck of her gown.
Oh, there was a name tag... ‘With love Nicole'. Nicole was the recent addition to their Early Risers group. Nicole came late for the meetings, left halfway through brunch and did not attend the Pilates classes. It was on Leah insistence that Nicole as still a part of the group. For a minute, Leah almost wished that she hadn't invited Nicole. Baby showers wasn't exactly her vibe. The Baby looked up at her with his creepy half smile. "Ah, Even hoary old Saturn wouldn't have chewed at this one!”
It was simply impossible to keep it in her lovely home, her golden white every shade of pastel home.
Leah felt it was time she visited Amar, her little brother. Amar lived by himself near the University. A physicist in the morning, a magician at night. He hardly had company at home. He kept an austere bachelor pad. The creepy man - baby could wreak no trouble there.
Amar was pleasantly surprised to see Leah. He hugged his tiny older sister and said affectionately "You are getting big". After a few vague enquiries about his work, she asked him to follow her to the car. "I have got something for you". Amar picked up the heavy statue with both hands and set it down in his living room. Leah hurriedly drove off. Now Amar who had for long renounced God and Satan, couldn't help entreating several deities, both good and bad...Beelzebub would have been a renaissance cherub beside the horrific puckered - suckling pig man. Leah s phone rang "I know I live by myself; doesn't mean I need creepy midget guarding in the living room."
“You call yourself a philosopher, an intellectual. You ought to be able to raise yourself above personal prejudice when it comes to art. Anyways, I am tired. See you soon" said Leah and hung up.
Amar threw a towel on the infant’s gloating face for the night. The next day he took it to the University. He would gift it to the head of the dept of Arts, the young radical Rishona. She had been coming on to him rather strongly, this would probably deter her. He waited by the corridor and soon enough came the slight sensual figure in black, the vivid pink hair cut in a pixie style.
"What a pleasant surprise Amar" said Rishona placing a hand on his arm.
"Hi Ri, I have got something special for you" He hastily pushed the big box towards her. "It will brighten up your office, a spectacular work of art by a famous expressionist artist" he added.
Rishona was humming to herself as she opened the box "Good God, what a creature. The sort of face that only a birth mother would suffer.” Whatever was Amar thinking?
Of all the works of art... the eyes seemed to look right into her soul. Why did the hairline remind her of a balding man of fifty. The tongue seemed to be slightly protruding. This one was certainly not for her office. There was no way she could get creative with those eyes staring at her but this was Amar’s first gift. The man she wanted to go out on a fifth date and more...
Rishona shoved it under the desk before she left for the day. The next day it stood on a side table in the office. Brijitha the University cleaning lady was polishing it. This wouldn't do. At a height the creature looked more perverse. That's when one of her students Zayn entered the office.
"Zayn, I have an assignment for you” said Rishona brightly. Her face was fixed in a wide smile as she continued "Is the style of this artistic creation realistic, abstract, or expressionist? What is the statue doing for you? Does it tell a story? Evoke a feeling? Present a thought? Well, take it home, so you can dwell on it and you needn’t bring it back”
“But ma’am, I have already finished my assignments” he faltered…Rishona was out of the office in a hurry, mumbling something about getting A grades.
Zayn lugged it to his hostel room. He knew he would have to write about the artistic innovation, the symbolic meaning, but all that came to his mind were two points. Firstly, it looked like the perfect candidate to be any of the Seven Deadly Sins and secondly what on earth was he to do with it once the assignment was done.
That's when it occurred to him, he had seen a board “DROP OFF; Salam’s Garage Sale” down the street. He would dump it there.
A few days later, a sunny morning found Leah crossed legged on the floor, on her pink yoga mat that matched her outfit; her face shiny with sweat from her prenatal online yoga class. That's when Gran walked in "Sweetie, you won't believe what I found at a garage sale, on my morning walk, an original piece of art,” said Nana “Sweetie, why do you look so faint? ".