Thursday, May 21, 2009
Every afternoon any number of village kids come round to play. I can't tell if they are coming to play with M or because we are fairly new and have toys they've not yet played with, I hope it's the former but I think it's also the latter. One of the kids who comes over is a boy I'll call G. He's adorable, he's 8 years old and has lived in this little village his whole life. As is common here his mother has to travel long distances for work so he's often being watched by cousins or other family and has a lot of time on his hands.
I've decided there are two reasons he comes over, one is to use our bathroom and the other is to color with M's colored pencils. He will sit for hours and color in silence, using coloring books we have on hand and every so often he'll bring the picture he's working on over to me for my review. We even brought him one from the States and he finished the entire book in a few days.
I was watching him last night and he looked up and saw me, a shy smile on his face. I decide I have nothing to lose. You know, G, you are an artist. Does anyone ever say that to you? And he shakes his head no. Well then, you should know I see that you are. And he smiles and shows me his picture and he is so serious, his lines and shading are just so. I ask him if he ever draws without lines and he nods his head. I get him some paper. Let me see what you can do and off he goes, studiously bent over the sheet of paper. He comes back awhile later and I see he's drawn a sun. I knew it, I said. I knew you were an artist. He smiles and I ask him if he gets to draw in school or if there are any art classes and he shakes his head no. I ask him if he has colors at home and again he shakes his head. You come here to draw, don't you and he looks down at his feet. It's okay if you do, G. Everybody needs a place to work on their art and you can come here whenever you want. Thanks, he says. I will go now but maybe I come back tomorrow. If it's okay with your family it's okay with me I say. As he's leaving M screeches goodbye and asks what we were talking about. I tell her knowing G can hear me G's an artist. He is an artist and artists have to create. There are no two ways about it. I see him puff up a bit before he looks down again. I like this kid G.
I don't know this kid's potential but I know he's not getting to exercise it. His family struggles daily to meet basic needs and the village school has no extras, I see how it is and I see why and at the same time I sit and wonder if I gave him a box of art supplies and found a way to bring art classes to the village I wonder what might come from it, I wonder how many Gs live here and are simply never allowed to flourish the way they need to, to allow the color to come from their fingers and onto the page. And I wonder what can be done about it.