When I think of attending a wedding, I think of a time to dress up, and a chance to wear some of those elaborate saris stored in my wardrobe. The next thing that comes to mind is what to buy the couple. The dilemma came to me recently when we had a wedding in the family. My eldest niece on my husband's side was getting married. This is someone close - someone I am fond of. So what could I get her? It could be something practical ' for setting up house - but then she could just as easily buy it herself. Or someone else might give her the same thing. How many toasters, irons or dinner sets does anyone need to set up a home? No it had to be something she would not buy for herself. Maybe an item of extravagance or luxury would be suitable - like silverware. No, I didn't like that idea. It would be too impractical, and probably get hidden in a cupboard. It had to be something' personal. What if I painted something for her? A work of art that she could not acquire anywhere else. She had always said she liked my paintings, well now would be the right opportunity for me to gift her one.
When her sister came from the U.S., where she is an art student, she brought two oil paintings with her to present for a wedding gift, painted by herself, with love. The bride was overjoyed so I thought my idea was well founded. Then her uncle came from Delhi and brought a modest watercolor landscape he had painted. He is what I would term an amateur painter ' more of a hobbyist. Again my niece was ecstatic. So now I was sure I'd made the right decision.
I was chatting with the bride's father about the lovely paintings she had to adorn her home now, when he astonished me with saying, 'Yes, she even had something painted by M F Husain but outgrew it and threw it out.' He knew he would shock me and he most certainly did. How on earth could she throw out artwork by M. F. Husain? I instantly felt sorry for her relatives and their art, which would no doubt be relegated to the rubbish dump ' not to mention mine too. I asked my brother-in-law, in my most toned down voice, how she could do that. He laughed at my not-so-hidden anguish, and told me the whole story.
M. F. Husain used to paint hoardings ' and cartoon characters on furniture before he became a famous artist. In fact, he was employed by a good friend of my brother-in-law, someone who owned a company that manufactured furniture. When my niece was born twenty-five years ago, that friend gifted a baby's cot to the newborn. It was manufactured in her factory but decorated by the one and only M. F. Husain. That is how it happens that my niece had a Husain, outgrew it and threw it out. That knowledge gave me back my peace of mind and I could look at her with fondness once again. Moreover I could pursue my intention of presenting her with my very own original painting with complete confidence!