The Mona Lisa Smile

While the dawn commenced, Hari was still staring at the portrait of Mona Lisa which his grandmother had installed in her bedroom. His grandmother had passed away a month ago. Hari had come to take back the articles his grandmother had left behind in this rented apartment. Only a year ago, Hari had visited her which was the last time unfortunately for him to have seen her in all her glory. She was wise but she was humble. “Only because I am slow makes me appear wise”, she used to joke. She was sprightly and had her way with the words, rhetoric yet lucid, her precious smile stretched wide enough to cause Hari into a spiritual delirium. She had made Hari mount a portrait of Mona Lisa adjacent to the window of the room and she sat in her bed which lay exactly opposite to that wall where the famous lady was installed. ‘She said, “Do you know why I have Madame Lisa’s portrait done?” No grandmother, Hari inquired, ‘Because, your grandfather married me since I looked just like her, in earnest, those were the days, child’, then they looked into each other’s eyes and had a nice heartily laugh.’   Now, after a sleepless diminutive night, Hari was in deep slumber of thoughts, he gaped.

He had been staring into the portrait since yesterday, and it was not only Madame Lisa he was observing but he saw a splendid motion picture in his imagination which served vividly and the manifestation was a revelation! Only providence could induce such bizarre yet truthful rationale. Hari was in spiritual delirium yet he appeared as calm as a rock. He felt like he saw his grandmother’s apparition assume a wide and wise smile. Hari was frenzied profoundly in his soul.

Now, the sun was rising, its rays gradually began to consume the portrait and just like that Hari was also consumed in impulsive hysterical monologue. With jerking legs, he stood up and began to walk around the room at random.  ‘How could it be? Such atrocity, how dreadful of him, I cannot live now. My whole existence questioned, it cannot be’, began to roar Hari and simultaneously he began to pull his hair and covered his face like he was in shame, Hari’s ecstatic movements were more expressive of his rational state. He was shouting around the room like a drunken man who was robbed of his desire to live.  Suddenly, Hari threw a vase into the mirror which was hung in the tainted wall adjacent to the door.  The mirror shattered in undesirable pieces.

With treading steps, Hari who sweltered out of the delirious engagement, stooped to pick up the shattered pieces of the glass but was suddenly taken aback when he saw his grandmother with a faint smile in that particular piece which he had picked up. He dropped the mirror in sheer horror and crawled back towards the wall. He shuddered from his very spine. He was holding on the ledge of the window and thought about jumping out….then suddenly she spoke. ‘Why, my child, what seems to be the problem’, said she in her gracious manner as always. Hari muttered, ‘but ….but….you are……..grandmother, please let this be a dream.

‘Pick me up child, I was sent to make you believe’, the grandmother said.

At this, Hari started to quiver and his lips twisted and fearfully answered, “Of what? Believe in what?”

‘In humanity of course, what did you think’?

Sent by whom, I don’t understand…..why I think I am dreaming and I quite know it’s my mind playing games with me….you are the sleepless phantom’, Hari said.

“It doesn’t matter what I am…..but what purpose I am to deliver”, answered back the grandmother from inside the broken piece of mirror.  There was a noise of silence for a while such that the flapping sound that the eyelashes made when he winked at random and obviously of fear, Hari thought he could hear such a ridiculous sound.  It was only providence which could conjure such a bizarre event.

And now timidly yet resolutely Hari picked up the piece of glass from which his grandmother was reverently talking to him. His hands shook and the sweat began to exude heavily but regaining some faith in his love for the dead old woman he sat down in the bed while his legs didn’t cease to jolt. Hari stuttered, ‘the pur-pose’ and stared at the glass piece for some while as silence grew. The grandmother slowly drew a smile and spoke, ‘your heart is in dark, why do you think the portrait is a depiction of the  human  predicament, such thinking serves no purpose….I think the portrait is merely a masterpiece of art and nothing more…..the art is what it is and nothing more’.  At this Hari raised his eyebrows and bit his lips. He then drew a deep breath and started, ‘ the old master knew well I think, such divine work shouldn’t be allowed for eye sighting  and such dread that manifestation of  our state-the human state should be merely taken for an art- confound you!’.

‘Since I knew the existence of the world famous Mona Lisa I never cared to look into the portrait’ paced Hari and nearly out of breath ‘I now have observed the reality and you of all people want to rob me of this revelation’ he was panting now.  ‘The reality is what you desire child’, replied the grandmother and slowly speaking said, ‘you see it’s like us’, Hari indifferently blurted, ‘Us?’.  ‘Yes, just like us’.  The apparition disappeared.

Hari sat there is the bed all confused. He wanted to believe that ‘such a divine portrait depicted the absolute truth- that we were disillusioned at our whole existence and we live our life like we are immortals and forget that when we were born our death was born with us too and then just like that we desire….all the oddities life can offer and upon deliverance we want more, the Sisyphean struggle. Such desires and lust leave us nowhere but in the hands of suffering, the consequence which we created and which we refute. For what do we refute such heartbreak? For, we are disillusioned. All of us’.  And he thought again, ‘what do I desire? The reality, the illusion or the revelation’.


80 thoughts on “The Mona Lisa Smile”

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