The Highborn Lady and the Golden-haired Girl (A Short Story and an Ink Drawing.)

The Highborn Lady and the Golden-haired Girl
(Fiction…hopefully.)

She looked down her powdered nose and peered at them. She hated them all. That she was forced to walk the same earth they did, was a fact that rankled all the time, oozing acid into her heart.
“Cretins,” she mumbled, then mused, “how could they have been created by the same God who created me?”
As she looked at them under the wavering light of the torches lit in the wall-sconces behind her, a thin smile crept over her lips.
She looked through the iron-bars into the dungeon from where the tear-stained faces of seven teenaged girls looked up at her silhouette, and wondered if she was an angel who’d free them from their misery.
Free them, she would. One by one. Her eyes moved from one scared face to another, evaluating them for a purpose of her own.
“The one with golden hair and green eyes,” she turned to the gaoler and said in her strong, stern, and clear voice.
A hushed silence fell in the dungeon. The cries stopped, and twelve jealous eyes turned to the girl with golden hair and green eyes. She was going to be freed tonight. Others will remain. Right now, they were all the same, and she was different. The similarity of their fates bound them together in their hatred for her.
The girl with golden hair and green eyes looked up, and through the bars that made up the dungeon’s ceiling, she tried to look into her savior’s eyes, but her face was in shadows.
The lady turned and left. She walked through the labyrinth that took her away from the darkness of the dungeon into her palace above.  In an hour, her bath would be drawn. In the shimmering glow of a hundred candles, the silky smooth mixture of milk, honey, and blood will enter her pores and rejuvenate them. God had given her the boon of eternal youth, and this was why the same God who had created her, had created them. For her.
She smiled again. The thin, controlled smiled of a high-born lady.
Caricature - a pen and ink drawing of a proud, rich, and evil woman.
About the Artwork:
This artwork is important, both due to its inspiration and its timing. I did it about 8 months ago. It was inspired by a high-born lady who I’ve known quite well. Not directly, but through someone I deeply care about. I did this caricature-art when I was hospitalized – a day after my surgery. (That’s why the line-work isn’t clear. There’s only so much you can accomplish when you are propped up on pillows and still under the influence of pain-killers and other medicines.) This artwork is about things that are seldom spoken, and never talked about in public. It’s about mothers who should never have been mothers, about ladies who aren’t ladies, about empathy or the lack of it, and about the pain that’s inflicted upon you, merely because you are you.
The story, however, is fiction; perhaps inspired by a historical account of a countess…I think. Let me google it out. Oh   yes…Elizabeth Bathory.
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Caricature/Cartoon – Julius Caesar – The Roman General and Cleopatra’s first Roman Paramour!

Julius Caesar was born on the thirteenth of July, 100 BC – just about 2110 years ago. You know him as the guy from Shakespeare’s drama Julius Caesar, in which he dramatically cries out “et tu Brute!” before he dies; as the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra’s Roman paramour; and as the untiring pursuer of the fearless Gauls in the famous Asterix comics.

Here’s Julius Caesar with his Laurel Wreath and two butterflies auditing the quality of the wreath.

A Cartoon, Caricature, Sketch, Portrait of Julius Caesar, the Roman General who was Cleopatra's lover!

They use only the most tender leaves for making his wreath.

A Short Biography of Julius Caesar

Caesar was born in a noble but poor family. His wasn’t a typical rags-to-riches saga, but he did have a tough life. At 16 he was heading his family, at 17 he became the high priest of Jupiter for which he had to break off his engagement and get married to another girl from a noble family; and then before he turned 21, he was forced to go into hiding because Sulla, the then dictator of Rome was weeding out the potential threats. Caesar’s mom’s family had to pull some strings to get him a pardon – after which Caesar joined the army.Only when Sulla died, Caesar returned to Rome.

Caesar came back poor and had to stay in a lower-class neighborhood (slums?) As he still had to put food on his rickety table, he decided to become a lawyer. One thing led to another (as it always does in stories that become too long to tell,) and in 60 BC he won the election and became a consul (whatever that means – if you know, please feel free to enlighten me.)

Caesar’s Personal Life

Caesar’s first wife Cornelia died in 69 BC. He then married Pompeia. She was suspected of having an affair with a guy who had a really complex name. the chauvinist Caesar didn’t approve of it at all – “Caesar’s wife should be above all suspicion,” he said in Roman – and divorced Pompeia. About 10 years later, he married Calpurnia to further his political career. Eventually, he discovered Cleopatra and he had an extra-marital affair with her.

Julius Caesar and Cleopatra

Cleopatra the ruler of Egypt met Caesar when she was already onto her second husband (who was also her younger brother) Ptolemy 14th!
(Wow! Those guys were super-creative when it came to naming their children…it must have something to do with the royal inbreeding program followed by the Egyptian royalty.)

Nevertheless, she decked herself up in a rug and met Caesar and they went for a long cruise on Nile – a lot of interesting things might’ve happened between them and some say that Cleopatra conceived Caesarion, their son, while they were bobbing up and down on the Nile. Though they say that J and C were crazy about each other, I’d say that Cleo was just trying to get some political mileage out of her relationship with Julius – or why would she land in Mark Antony’s lap the moment Caesar cried “Et tu Brutus”?

If you are completely nuts and you want to read more about JC and Cleo’s mushy love-life, check out the following two links:

  1. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3329
  2. http://www.suite101.com/content/julius-caesar-and-cleopatra-a224138

Caesar’s Relationship with the Gauls

Caesar’s relationship with the Gauls could be described as troubled at best (source: Asterix Comics:)) He had brought the whole Gaul under his control and converted it into Roman territory, save one tiny little village, where Asterix and Obelix lived. His army was scared of the two Gauls, because they had the magic potion that Druid Getafix used to fix for them (and as a child, Obelix had fallen into a cauldron of the magic potion – I hope that the potion had cooled down when he fell into it.)

Once again, to cut a long story short – you need to pick an Asterix comic to understand it completely…or you might want to get in touch with Albert Uderzo, who in my opinion, is the best comic book illustrator and cartoonist in this world.

Caesar’s Assassination

Caesar’s popularity and his re-election as the dictator of Rome for the third time in succession led to a strong wave of jealousy among the senators. About 40 senators stabbed him to death in the Theater of Pompei. With his death, the Roman Republic died to give way to an empire, with Caesar’s adopted son Octavian becoming the emperor.

I guess this is all that I want to tell you about Caesar…and his butterflies.

Julius Caesar Quotes

There two important quotes that should be mentioned here.

Et tu brute! : This phrase literally means, “You too Brutus!” You should exclaim “Et tu brute” when someone you trust cheats on you. For instance, if your dog bites you. This phrase should never be used when your politicians cheat you, because you’d be a fool to trust your politicians.

Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion: This phrase means, people who are connected to people who have an image to cultivate, should not have ghosts in their cupboards. Example:? (Can you see me scratching my head…I too would need a laurel wreath soon.) Please feel free to add an example to the comments section:)

My Childhood Love – A Naked Truth – A Caricature of Life!

Important Note:

This isn’t the usual fare that’s served at this blog. If you’ve arrived here through a search and if you are looking for caricatures click the Gallery link and if you are here for the Story-in-the-Caricature Blog Carnival, click here.

However, if you are looking for nothing in particular and if for some unfathomable reason you care about the beautiful unique relationship I share with Pratap Mullick, read on.

There’s a good chance that you know neither about Pratap Mullick nor about me, but if you are an artist who grew up in the far-flung regions of India, where if you wanted to buy a magazine, you’d have to travel about 40 miles – you probably have seen Pratap Mullick’s art.

WARNING:

I am NOT talking about Nagraj Comics. He did illustrate the first 50 of those…but I haven’t seen those illustrations. (Pratap Mullick illustrated for Nagraj Comics before 1995 – and Nagraj comics aren’t really what we’d call the “classics” so I can’t find the old issues anywhere. Honestly I don’t care about what I see of Nagraj Comics now! Searches of “Pratap Mullick” often throw up image results that show the work of other artists – and that work isn’t at the same scale of quality as Pratap Mullick’s…so I take no responsibility for misconceptions born out of indiscriminate searches.)

When I was a child, I was not just a child, I was a girl child; and despite being born in quite an emancipated family, nobody thought to ask me what I’d like to become when I grew up. Until I was ten, school was a mercurial affair – it was there, then it wasn’t, then again…it was there, and then it wasn’t. We often lived in places where ours was the only family for miles around. So I had a lot of time to read what I wanted to instead of reading what I had to.

Once a month, my father would take us to the nearest town, and I’d spend my monthly pocket-money (5 Rupees) on comics. I’d buy some combination of Indrajal comics (1 Rupee) and Amar Chitra Kathas (1.50 Rupees, if I remember right.) Indrajaal comics distributed the Phantom comics and the Mandrake comics in India – they later created their own hero, Bahadur too. In contrast, Amar Chitra Kathas (translates to: Immortal Stories with Pictures,) had stories from Indian Mythology and History. After a few months of buying both, I decided that I preferred Amar Chitra Kathas, so I requested my parents for an increment of one rupee in my pocket-money and began buying four Amar Chitra Kathas instead.

It was then that I realized that some of the Amar Chitra Kathas had drawings that were considerably better than those in others. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I was a selectively curious child. For a long time, it didn’t occur to me that real artists made those drawings, and I never thought that I could one day illustrate for books and magazines. I drew because it was nice to draw.

Coming back to the point, I realized that certain drawings looked better – in fact, they looked beautiful. They inspired me to draw better. Without realizing that I was learning from those drawings, I began to learn. I learned about proportions, shades, backgrounds, perspectives…I looked at those drawings and then looked around – and then I’d try to draw what I saw, the way they were drawn in those drawings.

I still didn’t know that there was an artist behind those drawings, so next when I went to the town and shopped for Amar Chitra Kathas, I’d look inside, check out the drawings, and instinctively select the Amar Chitra Kathas with those beautiful drawings. My parents would wonder why I selected some and rejected some – but they never asked and I never told. It was my secret.

When kids grow up, they are often asked what they’d like to be when they grew up – in my time, a girl child was seldom asked this question – and so I never could connect art with illustration. If I were asked the question, I might’ve said something like – I would like to draw…and then one thing could’ve led to another, and I might’ve ended up becoming a “real” artist. But for this reason or some other, there was a mental gap somewhere – some synapses didn’t connect – somehow I never realized that art could be a profession as well.

Then during the Nineties there was a time when it was difficult to find Amar Chitra Kathas on the bookstalls, and once in while I’d think about those beautifully illustrated comics, and feel sad. But they probably experienced some sort of revival and I began seeing Amar Chitra Kathas again. One day, when I was in a bookstore, I picked one of them up. I picked it up gingerly – ready to be disappointed – ready to accept that as a child what I found beautiful was indeed crass and mediocre. But the comic that I had instinctively picked up had the same beautiful drawings that I had fallen in love with as a child. I had picked up “Urvashi.

But I was a different Shafali now. I knew that a real artist did those illustrations, and so with my heart beating hard against my ribs, I checked out the cover for the credits – expecting to find none. (Our publishers often fear that they’d lose their illustrators and so they don’t provide credit to the artists.) But there it was. It said: “Illustrated by: Pratap Mullick”! For the first time, I knew the name of the man who had held my hand and steadied it as I learned to draw – for the first time in my life, my thoughts went beyond those drawings and I visualized what his life must’ve been – for now I also know a lot about the struggle that life is for an Indian artist.

It was a moment that was both happy and sad. The fact that Pratap Mullick could survive in this world and that he made drawings that’d survive him – made me happy. The fact that a man of his caliber, wasn’t celebrated – wasn’t known – and wasn’t given the status he deserved, made me sad. I should’ve heard his name as one of the great artists of India – he changed lives, he helped people learn art, and he still remains the best book illustrator that India has ever seen – and believe me when I say that because I spend hours looking at illustrations…and just one illustration is what it takes to tell you what an artist is worth!

As someone who’s keen on art, I wonder why an Amar Chitra Katha that he illustrated should sell at the same price at which all other Amar Chitra Kathas would sell? The comics he illustrated are collectibles – the comics that others did…well they just earned their living! If you don’t know what I am talking about buy “Vasantasena” and “Vasavadatta” – and compare them (Don’t go by the cover illustrations…they are always done well.) ! I just hope that he was at least paid better.

The question is – Why do we normalize? Why do we pull real talent down to the level of mediocrity?

We all know the answer…don’t we? This ability of the human race, is one of the things that define our humanity. We’ve decided to trash the evolutionary theory of “Survival of the Fittest” and that’s precisely why we are headed where we are…

Downhill.

Caricature/Cartoon – Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi

This simple caricature necessitates the introduction of two personalities – the great political and spiritual leader of India, Mahatma Gandhi; and the awe-inspiring actor Ben Kingsley.

This is the caricature of Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi, in the movie Gandhi.

Ben Kingsley the British Actor, as Mahatma Gandhi.

Ben Kingsley as Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi – Father of the Nation, India.

Mahatma Gandhi was born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Porbandar, Gujarat, India, in 1869. In 1883, when he was 13, he married Kasturba who was slightly older to him. The couple had four children, with Harilal being the eldest. Gandhi studied law at the University College of London , and returned to India after having completed his studies. He tried establishing his practice at Mumbai but failed. Eventually, he joined an Indian firm in South Africa , where for the first time, he faced raw discrimination or Apartheid . For the first time in his life, he consciously began to reflect upon the status of Indians in the world.

The foundations of Satyagraha (Insistence on Truth) were laid in Africa. When Gandhi returned to India in 1915, he came to understand the Indian problems. After his efforts in Gujarat, people began to call him Bapu (Father) and Mahatma (Great Soul/Person). In 1921, he became the leader of the Indian National Congress , and the fight for Swaraj (Our own rule) gained ground. Gandhi continued to evolve the Civil Disobedience Movement through policies such as wearing Khadi (hand-spun fabric) (he himself would hand-spin cotton thread to be used for his clothes.)

In the next three decades, Gandhi became the face of an India that wanted to be free. Eventually, when India was offered independence, it was on the condition that India would be partitioned into India and Pakistan. A reluctant Gandhi gave in and India (also Pakistan) gained its freedom at the midnight of August 15, 1947.

The pioneer of the Satyagraha movement, which was based upon Non-Violence, in India, today Gandhi is known as the Father of Nation.
as his movement helped India win her freedom from the British Raj. On January 30, 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, who held him responsible for partitioning India.

Read about Gandhi’s Life and His Eleven Principles here.

Ben Kingsley – The Actor who played Gandhi

Ben Kingsley’s father Harji Bhanji was born of Indian parents, who had settled in Kenya, but who moved to England when he was 14. Thus, Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji – son of a Gujarati Indian Doctor and an English Actress, in the year 1943.

“Sir” Ben Kinglsey (he demanded to be called “Sir” after he was knighted) has won many awards (including a Grammy) and also a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame.
His rise to fame began in 1982, when he starred as Mahatma Gandhi in the movie Gandhi. For this role, he bagged the Academy Award for Best Actor and also the BAFTA award for the Best New Comer.

So have you seen the connections yet?

  • Both can trace their origins to Gujarat in India.
  • Their noses look the same.
  • England played a crucial role in the success of both these gentlemen.
  • Kingsley popularized Gandhi internationally; Gandhi made Kingsley famous by helping him earn an Academy Award.

(The Caricaturist Wonders – Ben Kingsley was born five years before Gandhi died so it couldn’t have been a case of reincarnation…or…)

Caricature/Cartoon – Perceptions – Neanderthals vs. Homosapiens (The Modern Man?)!

About 50,000 years ago, when the Neanderthal man met the Homo Sapien or the modern man…what was it that they didn’t say?

A caricature or cartoon about Perceptions - Neanderthals vs. Homo Sapiens

An Ugly Brute? Who?

Isn’t all reality merely our perception?