The Studio: A Short Unexpected Tale
I wrote a story, titled ‘The Studio’, in 1993. It was ‘published’ in the November 1995 edition of Tanpa Tajuk (irregular self-published journal). I published it here again.
‘The very first thing an artist should look into is his studio, his working place. It is something personal, you live and breathe in it.’ Said Father, puffing his pipe.
We climbed the steps, trudging hastily behind the monk in the saffron robe. That monk – his steps were certain, showing no signs of weariness despite his old age. I heaved. It’s very tiring. The steps, they were steep and were inclining in a spiraled direction. I stopped to catch some breaths – so did my companion. I looked upwards, a part of the sky on the left was hidden by some kinds of shrubs and bushes and long grasses. We were standing against a sort of a cliff wall. To the right was the open sea. The waters were gray and wavy.
I looked forward. The monk was standing, looking at us calmly. Without a word he waved, asking us to continue climbing. Climbing.
We finally arrived. Oh, what a climb. The monk produced a bunch of keys from underneath his robe, approached the big rusty iron-gate with a big brass padlock. I thought one needed not a key to go in, the gate was so rusty that it would crumble if you just gave a small push.
We were at the back entrance. The monk said it’s the only to get here since the front entrance was eroded away by the sea some years ago. We walked into an orchard, many fruit trees stood half dead amidst tall grasses and bushes. A big mansion came in sight as we took a left turn. Wow… it was big. Bigger than what I imagined when my companion first told me about the place. And it was good too – the walls were constructed from cut stones. It looked ancient enough that a mysterious feeling suddenly emerged. The waves were rolling. And the sound of the wind too… ah, they were screaming.
The monk left us after showing the place. He also told about some broken doors and leaks. Two temple boys would be dispatched tomorrow to mend things, cleaning and whatever necessary. All gardening and carpentry tools could be found in the storeroom. He left me the bunch of keys.
We walked to the front verandah. Found a pair of deck chairs, and sat facing towards the sea. The waves were crushing below. I gave a deep sigh and said, ‘this is good, man. Real good. Wonderful. Many thanks for your help. I like it very much…’
‘Ah… the climb was tiring…’
‘Indeed… it was very tiring… exhausting. Hey, what are you doing tomorrow?’
‘I will be helping my uncle gathering his coconuts, but I could always asked him for a leave, and perhaps also could asked him to come and help.’
‘No… we shouldn’t disturb him.’
‘Not to worry… he knew you. He knew about you coming, to live and work here. He also likes to draw in his leisure times.’
‘Is he? Well, we could asked him, but do not trouble him if he’s busy… you look so tired man.’
‘So are you.’
‘Get some rest then.’
Sounds of the broken waves. Screams of the afternoon winds. Beatings of the heart. Father…
‘Comfortable studios are very important to artists. You surely can work better, faster. In peace. Works done or produced in such studios could reflect who you are – your discipline, your thoughts, you, everything will be much more easier with the arranged tools and furniture and materials… you could save a lot of your time… maintain your studio well. All we want is to be able to work with comfort.’ Father exhaled the smoke. His pipe, his handmade pipe, was wonderful.
‘I cannot work. No studio. Got neither studio nor suitable place even for drawings, ‘he put the mug down and stared absently into space, before continued,’ I got to get out. Got to get out of this damn place…but where?’
Terrifying screams awaked me. The screams, they really raised hairs. The youth, my companion, woke up too. It was dark. Not a star, a light, was visible. The waves kept banging. The winds kept on screaming… with occasional howls. It was cold_ I searched for my jacket.
‘It’s quarter past ten. God! We have been sleeping for hours… ho… its cold,’ the youth was for his jacket too. I stood and walked forward. The wind was salty. I could smell salt.
Suddenly terrifying screams again, but they were louder. I turned and looked at the youth. Scents of roses and other sweeties suddenly could be smelled. They gradually became thicker that I smelled salt no more. More screams with additional feminine seductive voices and noises. Voluptuous female figures were floating and flying and diving in the air! And they were circling us! Fright then began to develop fast! I saw the youth was trembling. Were they ghosts?
I heard more noises and… with a big explosion everything started to recede and clear.
‘One need a well-arranged studio to work in comfort. Never if its not complete… you can always slowly complete it,’ Father said as he put his pipe down onto the rack.