The big fish eating the small fish

I remember the excitement the opening of his sketchbook in a marketplace would generate. The precarious balancing act of keeping it in his arms. And the concentration that always seemed to transport him elsewhere. If he was not happy with what he did, he flipped the page and started again. If he drew more than one portrait of a child, for instance, he tore it out of his notebook and gave it to the child. It was thrilling for all. We often followed suit. We had our miniature sketchbooks and our pencils, and we learnt to sit anywhere and draw or stand as precariously even when we only pretended to draw. We never really had such talent, but we imitated what we saw our parent do all the time. It seemed so natural. It is only now that I think of the uniqueness of his career! And it was drawing that marked his career. He recalled drawing at the age of three or four, and never stopping. Drawing in the sand, on newspaper, thrown away bits of paper. Drawing all the time, much to the chagrin of my grandfather I am told, who was very concerned about his future.

Abu died on December 1, 2002, and in July of 2003, once my sister and I felt we could face sorting out copious files of drawings that go back more than 50 years, we discovered him once again through his work. Though he did not archive very sensibly, my father did archive. He did keep every drawing and cartoon he made. Every article he wrote and every newspaper cutting of his published work and of events that were of interest to him. We were transported into the early years of his career, work we had never seen, and his development as a draughtsman became apparent. His humour changed as he matured, as did his line, and his politics.

... contd.

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