Another story from Damyanti in response to the image I put up as a writing prompt for her. I never know what will spark her writing or the direction it will take, but I am always delighted to read what comes out. She brings a magical sensibility and a chameleon-like ability to diffuse into the story and disappear until surprise! she opens her eyes and I see what she sees.
The picture she used is from a scroll (4′ x 25′) of connected-by-theme paintings which I later cut apart and stretched separately. I saw them as creation myths. This image was the first in the series. It is about 3.5′ x 4′. I used acrylic lay-in colors finished with oil glazes on printed linen (image painted on the reverse as the pattern’s bleed-through produces a more subtle background – also, no scotch-guard protective film on back). I’m glad Damyanti showed up to write the stories. Here is her story.
Quit swimming in the air, Kenny tells them, air is no place for fish.
But they refuse to listen.
During the day they forage amid the plants in their aquarium, driving him crazy most weeks because no sooner than he puts in a half-decent plant in their aquarium they set about ripping it apart. The Singapore Aquaria, set above the sparkling, man-made Sentosa beach, likes each of its aquariums to look as neat and well-groomed as Singapore parks, gardens, people and government. If Kenny, a Filipino, is to survive here he has to make sure the Blue Tialpia behave.
But the Tilapia do not know about the obsession for order that hovers about them.
Each moonlit night they rise from their aquarium, and before Kenny’s helpless eyes, they rise into the blue ether, taking their time.
Quit swimming in the air, come back here, Kenny orders them, or they’ll fire my ass.
The Yemaya will protect you, the Tilapia babble in a chorus, like precocious children. She is the mother of all us Orishas, the most powerful guardians of old, and of the lands, the rivers, and the ocean. She is our mother and yours, too.
I know who is my mother and she is back home sleeping in the Philippines, come back now or I’ll lose my job and she’ll starve, pleads Kenny, hiking up the pants that have slipped below his belly.
We’re the children of Yemaya, the now-faint fish voices rain down from the moonlit sky above the blue-black ocean, and the red-rimmed moon is our home. Our job is to send dreams and desire to all creation, mate day with night, turn up in the dreams of newly-weds on land and in the sea, multiply the children of Yemaya.
If you’re so powerful, why do you swim about like a bunch of common fish in an aquarium? Come back down, air is no place for fish.
If fish do not belong in air, do you belong in this country of another, cleaning muck where you could have planted fields back home?
Kenny has no answer. The Blue Tilapia rise and fade till he can see them no more, they go home.
The next morning, Kenny does the same.