A flood of memories has just come back to me early this morning. I have been helping Dream Girl with a poster she is doing for Geography Day at school next week on Save Water. They have a designated day when they will learn about ‘all things Geography’ and in the process create awareness in the environment. This morning, after many months, I picked up a paintbrush and I instantly understood why it is important to indulge in your favourite activity when feeling down. It’s an immediate uplift. While all I had to do was paint a vast background on the poster without messing the lettering, the mere thrill of mixing the paints and applying to the paper were seriously therapeutic.

Yes, yes, I know. Kamal, if you’re so depressed why you don’t paint and chase away your blues? Before I get patronised let me get back to what I really wanted to say!

Painting this poster for school took me back many years ago (seems like VERY many now that I’m sitting here thinking about it) when I was in high school and we had all been assigned to paint a Peace Poster. My brother was in a different high school and his school was also participating in this competition which was being judged at an international level.  So we get our respective tools of the trade out and start sketching the posters. We were doing this at home and I was working in the kitchen area while my brother was working in the dining room. We were separated by a wall with a kitchen hatch in it. Back then we lived in a beautiful rambling 1930s style bungalow so there was none of this open-plan stuff going on in the design and structure.

I had bought myself paints from UK. Back then we never used to get any art supplies here and if you did manage to find something it was useless or very expensive. So I got these lovely watercolours from W H Smith (I still remember!) and set about the task of painting when my brother pokes his head through the hatch and asks me if he could borrow the red paint. When I’m painting I’m always in a good mood and because for once he asked ever so nicely and my artistic eye could see that my poster was far better than his and that $100 prize would probably come to me, I was magnanimous enough to let him use my red poster paint. I passed on the little jar to him and continued with my work.

Then I needed to use the red to paint a couple of drops of blood on this said peace poster when I asked back for my jar. He returned it and it was EMPTY! E. M. P. T. Y. I let out a shout and made him spill the blacked out water from his cup where he was rinsing his paintbrushes onto his poster.

I think it would be safe to say that’s when the fight began…

I screamed my head off at him and he did the same and we both charged at each other near the kitchen door and so a struggle ensued. We kicked and punched each other and I must say this guy used to fight dirty. He’s younger than me but he had just freshly grown taller than me so he was bigger and all he’d do was grab my long plaits and pull real hard. We fought like mad cats and continued until I found Mum’s scissor’s on a window sill in the passage where our fight had progressed to. I just grabbed it without thinking and tried to stab him. He dodged several times and started laughing at me. Nothing is more irritating than being laughed at while you’re having the crap beaten out of yourself and this time when I stabbed I didn’t miss. I hit him on his forearm and he got scratched and got a little blood. He starts screaming like a banshee, grabs the scissor and neatly cuts off one of my long braids – yes I was wearing two braids that day. I froze. My first words to him were ‘Dad’s going to kill you.’ He solemnly agreed and I got the nervous giggles. Then I started wailing though deep in my heart I was rejoicing because this would mean I’d get to cut my long cumbersome hair to match the length of the now shorter side.

Needless to say Dad did thrash my brother, I got away with a mere scolding (Drama Queen Brother showed the alleged stab marks) and I got 2nd runner up prize in my school for the Peace Poster and a brand new hairstyle that I loved.

Those were the best days of my life…

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