Padmavati or Queen Padmini of Chittor.

The controversy that’s been raging in India for a whole month lit a fire under me and made me find this portrait of Queen Padmini or Padmavati from my archives.

The lore tells us of a beautiful Srilankan princess who crossed the Indian ocean to be with her husband and beloved Ratansen, the king of Chittor.

Recently, a Bollywood period-drama based on the life of Queen Padmavati found itself in choppy waters, presumably for tinkering with history. The movie, say those who claim that their sentiments were hurt, shows the queen dancing. A queen who tread such high moral ground that she not just immolated herself but led all other women of Chittor into the funeral pyre to ensure they died with their dignity intact, couldn’t stoop so low as to dance. They are also of the opinion that the movie shows some romantic moments between that creepy invader Khilji and Queen Padmavati, which the producers say, actually show Khilji fantasizing about the queen.

There are too many moot points.

  • Whether or not there was actually a queen called Padmini who was actually a Sinhalese princess the tales of whose beauty had driven Ratansen to cross the ocean and go to Sri Lanka to marry her and bring her back?
  • Who is right? The movie-makers or the movie-attackers?
  • Why we still hear of nose-chopping and head-lopping as the right way to set matters of honor straight?
  • How the freedom of artistic expression be curbed “slowly?”

I’m sure the list is longer than my tired brain can produce.

Queen Padmini Padmavati portrait of her reflection in mirror - Alauddin Khilji's attack on Chittor.

A Portrait from the Mists of Time – Queen Padmini of Chittor (Size: 18″ x 22″, Medium: Graphite Relief Work, Copyright 2004, All Rights Reserved.

Actually, upon reading the stories, I do believe that they are more fantastical than historical. (A question that keeps perplexing me is what happened to the children of the women who immolated themselves? There’s no mention of children anywhere. In the days of the yore, I’m sure that in the absence of any birth-control measures, children were aplenty.  Silly question, I know. Yet, I’d like to know how they were whisked away from a fort that lay under siege for so long that people had begun to starve.)

Anyway, the long and short of the Padmavati story is that eventually the dust would settle. The movie-makers will find a way not only to salvage their 300 Cr. investment but also to make it bear fruit. It’s only a matter of time.

In the meantime, lose yourself in the lore of Padmini.

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Discovering the Artist within me (Part IV) – I am what I think.

I am what I think, and because art is an artist’s expression, my art too would have a bit of me in it. If it has then by logical extension, my art is my thoughts. When my thoughts stretch beyond the realm of cognitive thinking and spill over its boundaries, they become my feelings and emotions, so my art should also be my feelings and emotions. This is why my art would be the outcome of my past interactions with the world, for they shaped my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Some of these are buried in my subconscious, but most live in a twilight zone that exists between my conscious clarity and my sub-conscious nebulosity.

In my paintings, I sometimes return to caricatures. Mostly because the watered down version of reality that we often deal with in our lives, doesn’t let us experience life completely. Evil exists, and often its darker than black. Goodness too exists and sometimes it brighter than white. We usually choose to experience life in moderate shades of gray.

The Darkest Grays and the Deepest Blacks

A boy we’ve known from childhood can be a little wayward, but he cannot be the rapist who pulled out the entrails of a girl he violated. A bow-legged nephew who is always so charming in his manners, cannot be a pedophile who molests a woman’s daughter. An eighty year old frail woman couldn’t have gotten her sons beaten black and blue by her husband because she liked seeing her husband beat his sons whom she had hated bearing.

We choose not the believe the darkest grays and the deepest blacks, because believing would lead us to question everything around us, and our virtual safety bubble that allows us to sleep peacefully at nights, would vanish.

The Lightest Grays and the Brightest Whites

We also raise eyebrows when a billionaire decides to spend his billions in research and development that doesn’t turn his billions into trillions but helps the masses that hang from the cliff of their existence by their fingernails. We don’t trust his good intentions. We find ourselves at a loss of words when a client doesn’t try to bargain our skin off our backs.

We see the hand of God at work when anyone goes out of his or her way to help, because such bright and light grays and such brilliant whites appear impossible in our imperfect human world.

I think that as an artist I attempt to capture these two ends of the human spectrum, for what lies in the middle is a diluted version of life. I believe artists must think and feel, and then reach out to pull the two ends into their work. 

Discovering the Artist within me (Part III) – Connecting with the Soul.

Last week, I was down with viral fever. The whole week, all hundred and sixty-eight hours of it, went up in a puff. Then, yesterday, I happened to meet an artist and my conversation with him, fueled up my thought-process.

All these years, I had kept a lid on my need to paint my soul and its connection to the world. I had done everything that wouldn’t let me feel the pain of seeing my own vulnerabilities. I had boarded shut the window that opened into my soul.  The connection of my soul with the world is, as you might surmise, full of knots and tangles. It is going to perhaps be the most difficult thing to paint. But I must paint it so that I can see it as much as others can – for only then will I truly understand it.

Recently, since I’ve begun to connect with contemporary artists, I’ve been learning things that I hadn’t known all this while. That illustration, cartooning, and caricature-drawing don’t qualify as art, and that an artist’s past as an illustrator or a cartoonist, in some way makes the artist’s art less palatable.

Oddly, I cannot nod a blind yes to it, for in my books an artist and his art is the sum-total of the artist’s past – and whatever colors that artist chooses to put on the canvas are made from his sweat and blood, and those countless hours that he spent perfecting his skill. I believe and I seriously do, that we cannot have artists popping out of pre-approved molds.

Yesterday, I stood in a gallery looking at works that didn’t speak to me. They made me feel dead inside. I’m sure the artist felt otherwise. She, in fact had reasons for every little thing she had put into her works, and she was animatedly describing them to her audience. She spoke of her experiences and how it made her art what it was. The art was her expression, but the world that it connected to, wasn’t mine.

I am beginning to think that one of the important characteristics of art is the soul-connection. It should be born from an artist’s soul and then it should embrace the viewer’s. Without this connection, art would never find its patrons, and without patrons, the artist’s work will never be seen.

Discovering the Artist within me (Part II) – Classification.

Artists are classified. Period.

Ironically, periods are what classify artists, as do schools and styles. And if you apply paint on canvas, you’ll automatically be classified as a kind of artist, or your art shall be called a mix of styles.

In past several days, I  have had the opportunity of interacting with an amazing young woman. I draw and paint what I want, and having never set foot in an art school until recently, I’ve been both positively and negatively blessed. Positively because I still think the way I want to and I continue to question what I don’t understand, and negatively because the techniques of art are difficult to come by.

This young person is a vibrant combination of intellect and creativity, and her thoughts on art are mature beyond her years. My learning from her has led me reflect upon what My illustrations done for the purpose of exemplifying articles and news, and my caricature renditions of people for the purpose of satire and/or humor notwithstanding, I draw and paint:

  • My thoughts that often take the form of expressions, faces, mountains, animals of all ilk.
  • My memories that fluctuate between the light and dark but often get personified/morphed into my physical experiences.
  • Motion, speed, acceleration for everything around us is perpetually in motion.
  • Colors – washes, splashes, blobs…but all to bring out my thoughts in a visual format.

My young friend tells me that the artist within me may have surrealistic leanings. I do love Dali’s surrealist renderings, but I’m not sure if I would eventually paint like that. Dreams are different from thoughts – thoughts are anchored in logic; dreams break those anchors, allowing the thoughts to fly aimlessly, meeting other thoughts that they were never supposed to meet, and populating a landscape to give birth to surrealism. The elements of surprise, the realistic treatment of people, animals, and objects – they were the hallmarks of Dali’s paintings.

Oh, now that I’m reminded of Salvador Dali, I must show you the caricature that I did of him a few years ago. A simple pencil rendering, nothing much – but one day, I shall paint him the way he would’ve painted himself, surrealistically.

-artist-salvador-dali-mustaches-moustaches-surrealism-surrealist-caricature-of-dali.jpg

My take on Dali’s work has always been of wondrous respect.

Right now, I stand on a spiritual event horizon. If I cross over, I may not return; if I don’t, I won’t know what lies on the other side. But from the windows of time that rush past me at lightening speed, I’ve been able to catch a few glimpses and those glimpses must be translated into sketches…those sketches might get me my visa to the other side. I just hope that it’s a tourist visa and that it comes with a free return ticket.

 

She was pretty once…

When she was pretty and lissome, and spring followed her everywhere,

when she was carefree and life was fun, when she smiled at everyone,

when her hair was thick and lustrous, when her skin glowed unblemished…

but that was, when she was young.

Those days are now gone.

Her bones now squeak a little more each day, and she wakes up with a new wrinkle every morning.

Her hair has turned gray,  they are grayer than the smog that hangs low outside her apartment window.

Her nose gets bigger, her ear lobes dip lower, and her lips are now thinner than the heels that she wore…

when she was young.

Those days are now gone.

Her breasts that were once her pride, now sit upon her stomach, hidden under her loose floral robes of silk.

The dull, dead strands of her hair, are dyed a color they never were; ashamed of being seen, they seek shelter behind her tiara.

Her chins that roll upon one another, find refuge behind her many necklaces; her swollen feet are now thicker than the waist she had…

when she was young.

But those days are now gone.

Caricature of a middle-aged woman bejeweled, rich, but unhappy.

Title: “She” (Pen and Ink Drawing – Size: 5″ x 8″ Approximately.)

 

You must’ve noticed that I’m terrible at getting words to rhyme. I apologize for it…but if I don’t try, I’ll never get there.

About this caricature:

The caricature was inspired by a lady I saw at the mall. She must’ve been very pretty once, but she was clearly not able to cope with aging. She was unhappy, perpetually complaining, even bitter, but she was laden with jewelry. I’m not a gemology expert, but I could see four solitaires, a couple of rubies, one emerald, and a lot of dazzle around her neck. The tiara, I confess, is my addition.

India Strikes Back!

India stands proud and tall today. The Indian Army went across the LOC early this morning, targeted 7 terror launch pads, eliminated about 38 terrorists and 9 Pakistani army men who were defending the terrorists. Our soldiers returned safe – no casualties. They avenged the Uri deaths. They got an opportunity to do so only because there was a will on the part of our government. Instead of throwing empty words on our faces while keeping the hands of our defense-forces tied, unlike the previous government, this government did something tangible, and they did it the right way.

There’s a limit to be patient with ignorance and vileness; and with the Uri attacks, that limit was breached. We cannot continue to play with those who hobnob with the ones intent on killing us – India was forced to act to contain the terrorist attacks that were carried out from across the border, under the aegis of Pakistan.

Today I was reminded of the day two years ago when I voted for change, and when I rejoiced with a renewed hope because after such a long time, we would have an Indian in the driving seat.

I want to thank our armed forces for keeping our borders secure, and PM Modi and team for taking decisions that uphold the pride and honor of India. For once, I am glad to have voted.

Caricature of Narendra Modi as BJP wins the 2014 Indian elections.

Caricature/Cartoon – Hillary Clinton on her way to The White House

Time is apt for this post to reappear 🙂

Shafali's Caricatures, Portraits, and Cartoons

Everyone knows that Hillary Clinton will be running for President in the 2016 Elections. Period.

Here’s my take on the story.

Caricature cartoon in color - Hillary clinton - democratic candidate - US Presidential elections - 2016 - with donkey and 3 feathers in her cap.

Will Hillary run for the 2016 Presidential Elections?

Here are my reasons for believing that she will.
  1. In 2006, she was among the Democratic candidate hopefuls and narrowly lost to Barack Obama. This confirms that she is interested in becoming the President of the US.
  2. In 2007, she took up the position of the Secretary of State and happily co-existed and co-managed the international affairs of the US along with President Obama. This kept her in the public eye and made her a much stronger candidate than before.
  3. She took a break from a job which she was performing rather nicely. The only reason that makes sense to me is that she wanted to spend her time preparing herself for the next elections.
If the reasons given by…

View original post 825 more words

Face in the Fire – A Short Story and the Caricature of Anger Divine.

“If I could, I would kill him!” the man in the tattered jacket and stained trousers hissed as he watched the flames that danced violently mirroring his own state of mind.

He didn’t expect his cry to be heard, nor his pain to be felt by another. He sat in a small recess that was between two cliffs that faced each other, touching and teasing at times then moving away, just a little, just enough to let a man escape the freezing wind that could peel the skin off his face; just enough to let a man build a fire that could warm his chilled bones and melt the blood that had frozen in his veins.

“If they wouldn’t hang me for killing him, I would kill him,” he muttered to himself, contemplating why he hadn’t killed him. He knew they would hang him, or take him out to the fields, ask him to make a run for his life, then put a bullet in him – they’d call it encounter. They ignored the law when it came to punishing a crime against their own kind.

And now, more than ever before, he couldn’t die. He had to live. He couldn’t even get arrested and be put away for years.

He turned his attention to the fire. He needed to stop thinking about that man.

But how did you stop thinking about someone who stole your reason to live?
How did you tell yourself to go on, when your reason to go on, had gone away… taken away… wrenched away…hacked away?

He couldn’t staunch the flow of his thoughts, but watching the fire soothed him. The fire hadn’t lost its strength yet. It still burned strong, nearly white in the center; and a fiery orange outside. It threw a golden glow on the walls of cliffs that faced each other. The flames still danced passionately, angrily, demanding to be assimilated, absorbed in each other.

And then he saw a face – among the flames, made of flames; so full of anger that it could have been his own. The matted hair that coiled on the top, the impression of a third eye – he knew the face, and he knew that the anger that filled this face that was made of flames, was the force of justice.

Caricature Portrait of an Angry sadhu -

“What did he do?” he heard a voice, which sounded like it came from the face in the fire.

The calm voice from the angry face, made him feel better. Gradually he began remember everything in vivid detail – everything including that which reminded him why he couldn’t kill the man who had rendered his life meaningless. Images rushed to fill in the space that his receding pain and anger left vacant. He saw the woman he loved and their son waving him goodbye – the image was lit with the soft morning light that fills hearts with joy and hope. Then he saw the broken door, the picture of him and his wife on the floor with its glass shattered, and inside, he saw blood on the sheets. The light he saw it all in had the ink of night spilling into it – throwing his soul into the dark abyss of hopelessness. She wasn’t there, nor was his son. Then he saw her – bloodied, clutching her throat and dying near the scarecrow they had both built together. Finally, he saw in her fist, the piece of paper that stopped him from going after him and killing him. He had taken away their son! He had known him for fifteen years and considered him a friend.

“He should pay,” said the angry face in the fire, or he thought it said. But could he? If he killed him, and they killed his son, what then?!

The stream of his thoughts was dammed by a scream that came from above. He looked up and saw a man falling, hitting the walls, rebounding from one then from the other. He crashed to the ground just a few feet away from him on the other side of the fire he had built. Before his body struck the ground, the man’s face turned toward him. His head smashed against a boulder that lay at the bottom of the cliff’s wall and spattered it with blood, before his eyes closed forever. The police uniform that he had always admired on his friend was soaked in blood, even his badge was twisted out of shape.

The man watched spellbound. He had wanted this man to die – but his death didn’t soothe him the way he thought it would. His death couldn’t become life for her…and his son? He was still missing.

He turned to look at the fire.
The face was gone.
Or was it never there? 

He looked up, wondering if the face was up there among the stars, but it wasn’t. Instead he saw a tiny silhouette of a little head. He could’ve recognized it anywhere. Against the backdrop of a moonlit sky, he saw the child. They used to come here, father and son; they knew the place like the back of their hands. His son was safe. Now he had to only get up there and pick the threads of his life again. He had a reason to go on.

Before he prepared himself for the climb, he turned to look at the fire again. It was suddenly close to dying, like it didn’t have a reason to blaze and sing anymore.

But he was sure.

There was a face in the fire.

7 Googling Accidents – What they wanted and what they found.

There’s a saying that an empty mind is the devil’s workshop. Yesterday, my mind was empty, and so the devil rented it for a day, set up office, and went rummaging my stats.

This is what it found:

1. madurie dik shet necked pic

Either you know what that is or you don’t. The underside of being a screen-diva is that about half the world population wants to witness you in all your “necked” glory. It doesn’t matter if the diva is now past her prime, it doesn’t matter if she now wears the highly respectable shoes of an Indian mom, all they want it to see her “necked” pic. Now why a passionate search for such “pics” of Ms. Dik shet should bring someone to my blog is beyond my comprehension. I never sketched nor painted Ms. Dik shet, and I never draw necked pics. In fact, sometimes, even the mice I draw are either wearing diapers or at least a bandolier.

2. download images of scheching in acters

Scheching in acters? What is scheching?

  • Scratching?
  • Measles?
  • A euphemism of something unspeakable?

Or could it be a euphemism for sketches? Aha. Perhaps it is. Glad I got it right. But why download such images, if not for the nefarious purpose of painting over another artist’s sketch. Over the years I’ve received odd requests. A lady wanted to “copy” my caricatures and sell them with my permission; a gentleman wanted to use a drawing to create a 3D model of the face with it, another young man wanted to use a caricature for his avatar. I come across bloggers using images of paintings that they found by googling in their blogposts – without a permission statement/declaration that it’s a free image.

3. +18 caricature stories

Now this is a 66 percent match! caricatures and stories you can find here but unfortunately the +18 stuff isn’t. (I presume +18 is the steamy stuff of the “necked” kind.) I am genuinely curious to find how that search-string was born. Do people really enjoy +18 stories drawn as caricatures? Perhaps they do. Years ago I heard of a comic that presented a certain bhabhi (elder brother’s wife,) a +18 super-woman who engaged in various +18 acts with a wide-range of men. I am not a caricaturist who does those kind of drawings. Sorry searcher. You’ve got to take your searches elsewhere.

4. pics of dirty and comedy indian people with name laxman

I’m lost again. Dirty and comedy Indian people with name Laxman? Specifically named Laxman? Huh? I know that dirty clothes can actually make you look funny (comedy) but only if the dirt tells a story. My blog isn’t about Laxman, nor about dirty and “comedy” people, and so I trust that this searcher didn’t find what he or she was looking for, at least on my blog. I wish the searcher luck and cleanliness.

5. death caricatures

What?
Are you really looking for caricatures of death? I am not sure if I’ve understood your requirement correctly. I also have a feeling that upon arriving on my blog, you felt cheated. You wanted to give me a single-star rating and tell me that you didn’t find what you had expected, and so in your opinion my blog isn’t good, while I’ll continue to wonder how a basket of fresh apples could be rotten just because you were looking for oranges.

6. pictures of ugly people cartoon drawing of a naked woman

???

Ok. Pick one of the following:

  • Ugly people drawing naked woman
  • Cartoon drawing of ugly people with naked woman
  • Cartoon drawing of naked woman watching pictures of ugly people
    Pictures of ugly people that’ve grown hands and are now animatedly drawing a naked woman
Now the clincher.
None of these options are available on this blog. Ugly and naked don’t happen here.

7. was cleopatra ugly ?

Finally. Now this is a question that only an intelligent person can ask. Cleopatra’s pedigree doesn’t matter. The fact that she was the last Pharaoh of Egypt doesn’t matter. That she could seduce both Caesar and Antony and wrap them around her pinkie doesn’t matter. All her accomplishments don’t matter. She couldn’t have become this famous by using her brains – could she? If she weren’t beautiful, then how in the world she did all that?

Good question. It is answered on this blog. Search again.

Caricature-Cartoon: Carly Fiorina Leads in the First Debate.

Carly Fiorina’s Caricature Finally Leaves the Attic 🙂

Cara Carleton Fiorina or Simply Carly Fiorina has emerged a winner in the first Republican debate of today. Others who shared the stage with her were Bobby Jindal (Yes, the unhyphenated American,) Rick Santorum (with secrets and secret compartments in his closet,) Rick Perry (the bespectacled Bush-istic one,) George Pataki (Gosh! I wish I knew more about him), and Lindsey Graham (the lonely gentleman whose phone number was given out by Donald Trump).

While all these other gentleman have a lot of political experience on their side, Carly Fiorina has overcome substantial odds in the past. I’ll tell you about the insurmountable odds she surmounted, but in a minute.

First I must present the subject of this post:  Carly Fiorina’s Caricature.

Caricature Cartoon Drawing Sketch - Carly Fiorina - Women Republican Candidate for 2016 Presidential Elections.

Carly has been a top-shot in the corporate-pot, but the only other time she tried to get into the political-garb, she failed. It probably didn’t fit.

From what I read and hear, it’s possible that some of the other candidates who participated in the debate, Rick Perry in particular, was charmed by Fiorina’s good manners, her quiver of polished arrows, and her corporate background (which is dotted by at least one stark failure.)

Here’s a quick overview of the corporate journey undertaken by the only Woman Republican Candidate vying to be the President in 2016.

  • Carly started as an executive at AT&T (See? She started just like you and me.)
  • Then she was the CEO of HP from 1999 to 2005. (See? This is where she could do what you and I couldn’t.)
  • Next, she spearheaded the merger between HP and Compaq (and that is the reason I could never get a new battery for my first laptop (a fantastic Compaq machine.) (I think I’ll pin the blame on her.)
  • Then, she laid off 30,000 American workers. (I guess she did, because the HP mini that have is an abomination…and despite the company still being in business, their distribution is atrocious – and getting it a new battery for my mini took me a couple of years.)
  • She was still the head of HP when in 2005, HP’s stock had dwindled to half its value.
  • Finally, HP woke up and filed a mercy-petition with Carly. She obliged and resigned.

What does she do now?
I guess a lot of things – but she mostly involves herself with charity and works for the betterment of women. The caricaturist in me would like to work backwards and say that long ago she knew that she’d one day be running for the President of United States and she was gradually getting her heeled feet accustomed to her new running-shoes.

 

A Creativity Carnival – for Artists, Writers, Poets, and other Oddballs!

Friends, I still haven’t decided upon a Feature I’d want to go ahead with, but I did have a Creativity Carnival in mind.

I trust the following image captures what I had in mind for it. I’d like to thank my blogging101 friends for their inputs on it. While I am still not sure whether this should be a weekly event, I was wondering if some of us would like to give it shot, if I started it, say, coming Friday (July 31, 2015.)

Possible rules in a nutshell (Please recommend addition/deletion)

  1. Participating bloggers will have a week to make the post.
  2. The Pen and Ink Caricature drawing will serve as a cue.
  3. Participating bloggers would be welcome to write a story, an anecdote, a poem, or even draw a picture or post a doodle in response to the cue.
  4. Participating bloggers  will integrate the caricature-drawing into their posts.
  5. Participating bloggers will provide a ping-back to the carnival post so that other participants can visit their blogs and comment, like, and socialize.

Creativity Carnival for wordpress bloggers

Should I, should I not?

I had tried it once, but such an event cannot thrive on its own. I looked at the Daily Post event form – and a Creativity Carnival doesn’t fit into any of the given categories.

If you think that you’d like to be a part of it, please leave a smiley in the comments 🙂

More later – Keep drawing, writing, and smiling!

 

The King’s Chamber (A Short Story) – Weekly Challenge: Literary Lion. King.

Egyptian Eye - Artwork for short story "The King's Chamber" by shafali.

Intef turned to change his side and felt sweat trickle down his back.  The heat roused him from his slumber. The first thing he noticed was the darkness. His chamber was never completely dark. He touched his bed. The sheets were of silk and the pillow was made of dove-feathers.
This wasn’t his bed.
Then he remembered. He was now King. He was the Pharaoh of Egypt, and he was sleeping in the King’s chamber. His father Pharaoh Akhnaten was no more. He had died thirty days ago, and the period of mourning had ended just yesterday when his embalmed body was finally taken to his pyramid for burial.
For some odd reason, his memories were choppy. It must be the heat, he thought, and swung his legs down the bed. His leather slippers were right where he had expected to find them.
Intef slipped his feet into the slippers and called the servants. His temper was now rising.
Where were they? And why were the curtains drawn close?
He tried recalling the layout of the King’s bed-chamber. It wasn’t easy, because he had never slept in there, never before last night.
“Where were those lamp-sconces?” he murmured, trying to focus on what he remembered of the Pharaoh’s chamber.
The pictures began forming. He saw himself in the royal chamber a week before his father’s death. Sekah-seshat, his sister was there too. The sky had already darkened outside but the Pharaoh’s chamber was lit bright with a dozen sconces, each of them holding a dozen oil-lamps. Two of these wall-sconces were right near the headboard of the Pharaoh’s bed.
Intef turned left. Moving against the edge of the bed, his outstretched hand touched the wall. He moved his hand up along the wall. There it was. Now he needed a flint-lighter.
Where could he find one?
He tried focusing on his memories again. Perhaps they would help him locate the lighter. In his imagination, the Pharaoh’s chamber lit up again. Sekah was asking the Pharaoh her father, for a boon. She didn’t want to marry Intef, her brother – as she was destined to. Sekah was her father’s favorite, and when the Pharaoh had smiled at her, Intef’s heart had sunk. He knew that Sekah was in love with Khamose, their cousin, and Pharaoh’s smile had confirmed that she now had his blessings for her marriage with him. His sister always got her way with their father.
Intef shook his head. Those memories won’t help him. Right now, he must focus on finding the lighter.
Where in the name of Osiris were the servants? He bellowed again. There was no answer. Something isn’t right, he thought as his voice echoed through the place.
He ran his fingers around the edge of the sconce once again, and his fingers hit something. The lighter. A wave of relief washed over him. He hated the darkness. It had been dark when he had stolen into this very chamber that night and poisoned the jug of water that stood on his father’s bedside table. The explosive mix of anger, jealousy, hatred, and fear had driven him to kill his father, the King, the Pharaoh of Egypt.
He released the clasp of the flint lighter and put it to the wick of a lamp. An unearthly yellow glow filled the chamber. Intef heaved a sigh of relief, and set about lighting the other oil-lamps.
Tomorrow he’d punish those servants. Hanging them alongside Khamose will be a good idea.
“But Khamose will die only after he has seen Sekah get married to me, the new Pharaoh of Egypt!” he chuckled.
The lamps burned casting a steady glow. They didn’t flicker at all. There was not even the slightest breeze in the chamber.
He pulled a sheet from the bed and wiped his face and neck. “let me draw the curtains myself,” he whispered wiping off the sweat that had accumulated on his brow, and turned to face the windows.
There were no windows.
He stood facing a wall that was painted in blue, yellow, and gold; a wall that told the story of Pharaoh Akhnaten’s rule. Blood drained from his face and he felt a chill run down his spine. Very slowly, pivoted on his spot, he turned again.
His father’s tomb, hewn out of a single block of marble and inlaid with gold and precious jewels, and within which his embalmed body lay, stood proudly in the center of the room. He stood inside the King’s burial chamber which was sealed shut after the ceremony had ended and he had left the pyramid.

Note: This story was written for Weekly Challenge at iSmithWords.com. This specific challenge was “Literary Lion. King.” The challenge required us to write a story in 400 words or less. This story has exceeded the word-limit, and so it doesn’t fulfill the requirements.  I tried my best to squeeze it down to 400, but couldn’t.

However, since I had taken this challenge as an assignment for Blogging101, I think I’ve managed one of the two things that I had set about accomplishing – I’ve finished my assignment 🙂

The Egyptian eye above can be seen sans-makeup here.

 

Finite Creatures: The Evening of the Storm (A Short Story and Ink Drawing of a Sinner)

The Evening of the Storm

(A Short Story)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Finite Creatures.”

I can’t really remember when I first discovered that our lives were finite, so I’ll take refuge in fiction and tell you the story of a girl who wouldn’t die.
 
It had happened on the evening of the storm. The townsfolk still remembered that evening. They talked about the storm and the brave truck driver who died that night.
“He died trying to save her,” said her grandfather, pointing a knobby finger at her.
“Not a drop of gratitude,” said her grandmother, adjusting her bifocals and looking across the room at Leah.
She tried to drown their voices by turning her attention to the storm that was brewing outside. Lea hated her grandparents who whiled away their time recounting events that had turned to dust, except in their minds.
She had trained herself to ignore them but she knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, especially tonight. This treacherous night looked a lot like the night that they were talking about. Before she could steel herself, the stormy night colluded with her grandparents’ conversation and pulled the plug. Memories tumbled in.
Terrible memories. Of the storm, and of death.
Leah was returning from school when the skies had turned dark. She was just a hundred yards away from home; she just had to cross that wooden bridge across the river and she would have been home. 
But at that point, right before the bridge, her memories slowed down – they turned into a series of snap-shots.
First, the cold steely feel of the knife on the skin of her throat, then the violent shove; little later a familiar smell riding on a hoarse whisper, “come with me.”
Then it all turned into a blur.
A blur of rain, the sound of clothes being torn off, a raspy voice, an unbearable stench of sweat mixed with that of rotting teeth, and throttled cries for help…
That was all she remembered of it. But the memory of the pain still made her clench her teeth and cross her legs, really tight.
It must’ve lasted an hour or more – she couldn’t remember, but those bruises were everywhere.
Later, he lay satiated on the rotting floor of the log-cabin and said in his slimy, wheezy voice, “Don’t tell anyone, or you will die.” She didn’t know then, what dying meant, but she nodded. And then it happened. A strong gust of wind was all it took. The last thing that she remembered was that the cabin shook wildly and then rotten logs under him gave way. They crumbled, then cascaded down into the wild river. The logs were swept away, but he wasn’t. She saw him impaled upon one of the jagged rocks. The overhang was all gone and she lay on the edge, face down, watching his body twist and turn as the water hit it.
She was found two days later. She didn’t tell anyone. She was eight and she thought that if she told, she’d die too. She didn’t want to die.
Leah turned and looked at the pictures on the mantel.
They were all there. Her mother, her father, and he. All three. All dead.
Caricature Cartoon of a sinner - angry mad man with a guilty conscience - fire of hell.

The Sinner

 

The Genesis of this Post:
When Lydia and I discovered that we had both used the Photo-prompt for our blogging assignment, we decided to do the assignment once again, with the correct prompt this time. So we set ourselves a time-limit of one hour for the post, in which we had to think about the prompt, crystallize our thoughts, and make the post. I overshot it by 10 minutes 😦 She was in time with hers 🙂 Please visit her blog here.

5 Reasons why America must vote for Limberbutt McCubbins.

Reblogging this from my totally non-serious, completely fun blog 🙂

Giggle, Wiggle, and Poll-dance with the Presidential Candidates of 2016 Elections.

LIMBERBUTT for PRESIDENT!

Presidential candidate Limberbutt McCubbins - A Demo-cat candidate from Louisville - for 2016 elections.

Visit Limberbutt McCubbins’ site and support his campaign.

  1. Limberbutt McCubbins is impartial and cannot be lobbied.
  2. Limberbutt McCubbins has a limber butt than all other presidential candidates, so he’d be up and about, all the time.
  3. Limberbutt McCubbins doesn’t belong to any human race and is untouched by the scourge of racism.
  4. Limberbutt McCubbins will get your cats, dogs, and all other pets covered for healthcare.
  5. Limberbutt McCubbins will not meddle in Congress’s decision-making; he’ll follow a paws-off management policy.

View his Wikipedia page here.

SUPPORT LIMBERBUTT McCUBBINS for PRESIDENT!

MEOW is the time!

(Note: Limberbutt McCubbins is a Demo-cat. That brings up the number of major democratic candidates to 6…right?)

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Scotus makes Gotus fall in love with it – A Toony Pretzels Cartoon. (Gay Marriages become legal)

On June 26, 2015, in a historic ruling, the Supreme Court made gay marriages legal all through the United States.

There are two sides to this coin.

Side 1 thinks of gays as an aberration, even an abomination, and while the moderates among these feel that gays may be allowed to do what they want in the privacy of their homes but marriage must only be between a man and a woman, as it was ordained by god as union for the purpose of recreation;  they hate Scotus for making gay-marriages legal.

Side 2 thinks that being gay shouldn’t mean that a person must either never marry, or marry a person of opposite sex in order to have a family and/or have children. They believe that they have the right to live life as they see fit and have a legal and ethical union with the person they love.

  • Does Side 1 own the institution of marriage?
  • Is Side 2 asking for the sky in asking for a legal and moral stamp on their union? 

Here’s a Toony Pretzel that I did a few years ago. It’s been sitting in the hard-disk of my computer…and I think it’s the right time to get a tiny smile out of it.

gay-marriages-legal-in-US-scotus-supreme-court-decision-love-wins-cartoon-toony-pretzels-by-shafali

Of course, there are other issues. Important ones. What happens in the military – where men have always been men and brothers-in-arms? What happens in the case of property disputes? How will the children that are adopted by such parents cope? The answer to all these questions is: we’ll know soon enough. I believe that humans are resourceful and they can usually find their way out of any situation.

Yet, in a world where we speak of the rights of people regardless the color of their skin, their gender, their religion; in a world where even convicts are allowed to marry and enjoy conjugal visits; why must people be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual preference? I’ve had some gay-acquaintances, they are some of the nicest people I know. I think the world needs to focus its attention on the criminals and the terrorists…isn’t it odd that America still hasn’t made up its mind about them?

 

International Yoga Day (Caricature Art)

The mood is upbeat. Today is the International Yoga Day. One might think that UN suddenly woke up to the health-concerns of the world and made this announcement. It did wake up, but only after some lobbying by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who himself starts his day with yoga.

(Feel Free to reuse this caricature-artwork graphic, to laud this day and to herald Harmony & Peace. Though welcome, no special credit/link-back is required, but please use the graphic as-is, in its entirety.)

Caricature of Narendra Modi and The International Yoga Day Symbol - June 21

 

May the world become healthier and happier.

Amen!

115 F, a blistered finger, and feeling blessed.

The middle of an Indian summer isn’t exactly paradise. During the two months of May and June, the fire of hell escapes from the belly of earth and smothers us with a blanket of hot air that scalds the lungs and burns the skin. The afternoon temperature hovers between 110 and 120 F – the computers heat up, and so does my direct-to-screen drawing tablet.

In the middle of all this, I find myself working on an urgent assignment that, as I will later discover, to work from 6 in the morning to 7 in the evening. I wake up, ready to go to work, hoping that I’ll be able to use the air-conditioning for those few hellish hours of the day; and then the unthinkable happens. Right at 5 AM, the power goes off! while the heat hasn’t begun to show its true colors yet, I am devastated!

As I try to introspect and reschedule my work to afternoon, wondering if sending the files to the client in the middle of the night would make any sense; I see a tiny speck of hope. “It’s a planned power-cut of 6 hours,” said the official newspaper reader of the house who is also my organized-to-a-fault much better half.

So I decide to work until the power-backup exhausted itself. No Air-conditioning – aircons are power-hogs and they aren’t plugged-in to the backup. Without the air-conditioning, my Cintiq heats up and starts scorching my fingers. A small selfish part of me keeps praying for the backup to die. It would cut this torture short and give me a temporary respite. It doesn’t happen. The tablet continues to heat up…the air around keeps pace.

The power comes back on 30 minutes earlier than expected. Awesome! A quick breakfast and I am back to work. And then it hits me. The artwork that I was working on was complex and it would take me a very long time to finish it. Especially if I took all those breaks that the Doctor advised. So I do the unthinkable – with my fingers crossed, I take my chances. I decide to work non-stop (except for the loo-breaks) until I am done with my work. I am hopeful that I’d be done by 4 PM. I strike gold – finish the sketch on time – but with an angry red boil on the side of my little finger.

I should’ve been happy that it was done – I should’ve given my tired me a break from work, but I couldn’t. All through the day, I was nagged by the thought that a part of the concept didn’t appear convincing…and I had to handle it somehow. What the client wants is something that you must create, but what your conscience suggests is something that you mustn’t ignore. So I return to my art-mate, sketching furiously – creating an option that would take out the thorn from me side. Providing a possible alternate to something that I feel may potentially harm the client, is my job – or so I think. All that extra work – Not pragmatic? Perhaps…but it leaves me more at peace with myself.

So I work three extra hours and upload the sketches by 7 PM.

Delivered as promised; delivered as it should’ve been 🙂

It made me feel good…but what made me feel blessed was the fact that this morning, I woke up feeling OK, except of course the blistered finger, which reminds me that if these tiny things are beginning to register again, I must be feeling better. I know I haven’t yet healed completely, and by working 13 hours at a stretch, I had taken a chance that I shouldn’t have. And yet…

Right now, I am feeling blessed. Frazzled but blessed.

Feeling blessed - a pen and ink drawing - shafali's art. Artists and Commissions.

Feeling frazzled but blessed!

PS: Need those gloves…pronto – and yet, a delivery deadline met so… despite a blistered finger, feeling blessed 🙂 After all Happiness is…

 

Caricature/Cartoon – Pen and Ink – Can you tell who he is?

Here’s the guy for you identify 🙂

caricature portrait in pen and ink - an escaped convict, a goon, robin-hood, killer etc.

Who could he be?

Possibilities:

  1. A convict who has escaped from Alcatraz (The Rock) – one of most heavily guarded prisons in the world.
  2. Lothar of Mandrake comics fame, in another life where he wasn’t such a nice guy.
  3. The Rock (Yes, another one – whose real name is Dawnye Johnson) – caricatured.
  4. A Foundry-man proud to showcase his products around his neck.
  5. A balding Hercules?
  6. A Mountain-man completely ignorant of the greatest invention of mankind (more specifically, by ean-Jacques Perret in France or by Gillette in America) – The safety razor? 
  7. Just one happy-go-lucky, hydrophobic, lazy young man?
  8. Robin Hood sporting a devil-may-care attitude?

Whoever he is, he and I both wish our visitors,

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!

🙂

How to Create Cool Caricatures Using the Toonsie Roll Caricature App.

UPDATE:

Toonsie Roll is available on the App Store as a FREE download 

It’s almost here! Toonsie Roll debuts on the App Store this Saturday…on November 22, 2014! So when you wake up this Saturday, checkout the App Store and download the smartest Caricaturing App (I’ve worked really hard to make this app as intuitive as possible, so please forgive the vanity ☺)

Toonsie Roll - Caricature App for iPhone and iPad - create funny caricatures of everyone - Toon 'em all!

Toonsie Roll – Toon ’em All!

 

If you think you might forget, and you’d like to put me to the task of reminding you, please use the contact form on this page, and I’ll send you an email with the App Store download URL.

Without mincing any words, Toonsie Roll is an app that helps you intuitively create cool caricatures from photographs!

For the experimental reader of my blog, here’s the process in a nutshell.

Just get a picture in Toonsie Roll (shoot from your camera or import from your Albums,) crop it to center the face (give the face about 1/3 to 2/3 space in the picture,) and hit “Toonify.” Toonsie Roll Toonifies the picture and presents you with 3 toonified options. You’ll intuitively know which one’s the best. If you like one – tap that toon; if you don’t, then tap the “More” button to get more options. When you tap a toon, Toonsie Roll takes it as the picture that you now want to toonify further, and then presents three more options based on the selected toon. This is how you continue – until of course, you are done with tooning, and you finalize the image to “Artify.”

And now, for my details-oriented audience, here is the process – Step by Step, screen-by-screen!

Download Toonsie Roll to you iPhone or iPad and tap the icon to open it. (Don’t rap me on the knuckles for being cheeky. You wanted it step by step!)

You get the following Opening Screen.

Toonsie Roll - A Free Caricature Maker App for iPhone and iPad that lets you create expressive caricatures by observing and tapping.

 

Just tap anywhere to load the “Get a Picture” screen, shown below.

You can get a picture into Toonsie Roll by either importing from “Photos” or by shooting one then and there, using your device camera. (The second option is pretty useful when someone in your group is being a real nutcase.)

Toonsie Roll - A Free Caricature Maker App for iPhone and iPad that lets you create expressive caricatures by observing and tapping.

Now move and adjust that red-rectangle on the image to select the face. It’s a good idea to keep the face centered (you get interesting results by being off-center, but when you are starting, it’s a good idea to stayed centered.) Also, let the face occupy about one-third to two-third of the final cropped image area.

When you are satisfied, hit the Toonify button to arrive on the “Toonify” screen, which is shown below.

 

Toonsie Roll - A Free Caricature Maker App for iPhone and iPad that lets you create expressive caricatures by observing and tapping.

 

This is the screen where you get to play around with different possibilities. The original image is at the top-left corner (Selected Picture). The other three are the Toons that Toonsie Roll has generated. If you aren’t satisfied with any of them, tap the “More” button. If you like any of the three toons then select the one that’s closest in likeness to the original subject, and one which you’d like to caricature some more by tapping the face in the toon. You’ll see that the tapped toon moves to the top-left and replaces the original and now becomes the Selected Picture. Now this picture becomes the image to be toonified further.

As all of us have been blessed with the intuitive ability to determine likeness (whether the caricature looks like it belongs to the subject) and funniness (whether the caricature/joke/situation looks funny or not,) just by tapping, selecting, and tooning, we can create cool looking caricatures.

When you are satisfied with one of the toons, tap the green tick on that toon to finalize it. When you hit the tick mark, you get the chance to crop the image once again (if you’d like to) and then you arrive at the following “Artify” screen where you can enhance your artwork with 20 artistic effects.

Toonsie Roll - A Free Caricature Maker App for iPhone and iPad that lets you create expressive caricatures by observing and tapping.

I’ll be posting a separate tutorial on how these effects can be used individually or one-after-the-other to create interesting artistic effects. At this point, my recommendation is, “play with the effects.”

When you are done…tap the “Personalize & Share” button at the bottom of the “Artify” screen, to arrive at the following “Personalize & Share” screen.
On this screen you are presented with a photo of your toon.

Toonsie Roll - A Free Caricature Maker App for iPhone and iPad that lets you create expressive caricatures by observing and tapping.

On this screen you see three ways to personalize your creation.
Sign your creation (Actually write/draw your unique signature – all great artists sign their work.)
Add an emoji (from a cool collection of 75 emojis.)
Add a witty caption to your artwork (In the above screen, “You know you are famous when the Internet explodes with your caricatures,” is the caption added by the artist.)

Once you are done with personalizing the artwork, tap the “Share Your Creation,” button and share your artwork on a social network – Facebook/Twitter etc. of your choice, save it to your iPad/iPhone, or email it 🙂

So the countdown has begun…and we are all set to become Toonsie Rollers on November 22 🙂

UPDATE: Toonsie Roll is now available for download on the App Store