She reached the fourth standard corridors five minutes early that day. She packed a smile on her face that was reminiscent of the glee after taking a good class — a class in which every student participates. Our seniors must have been less of a pain that day for our dear art teacher.
The bell rang three times, marking the start of the ‘art’ period. She entered the class, picked up the chalk, and started drawing something, that appeared to be a side-view of an animal face to us.
First came the eye, then the nose, followed by the mouth — the usual order we had grown to be comfortable with. She then went for the neck and extended it way down. Just when the intellectual minds of my fellow fourth-graders concentrated on the idea of a giraffe, she drew a curve that started from the bottom ends of the neck. The curve became the body of the animal, that went on in loop, slowly converging towards the centre. What was it, some sort of a fused animal that had a giraffe’s mouth and a snail’s body?
All this happened in a span of four short minutes, and my fourth-standard mind knew it could not possibly comprehend what she was up to, but decided to remember it for future recollection.
All our doubts were directed towards a ray of hope when she revealed the title of that day’s art class on the black-board in block letters — ‘AMAZING ANIMALS’. After writing the title, she began to introduce us to this unheard breed of animals that were fearless and lived in the sanctuaries of our mind.
She told us that the genesis of these animals knew no conventional rules — it was governed by and limited to only our imagination. For instance, a snail could run in a rat race if its friendly neighbour rat was ill. A pigeon could swim in the pond while a fish chirped from a nest. An elephant with a zebra skin could play the lead role in the story of monkey, cat, and balances.
The more diverse our sanctuary of amazing animals is, the more creatively energetic we are.
When she asked us to draw some unique amazing animals, we were quite clueless. We did not know about them, we were not taught how they looked, and we had been asked to draw them. But we had deduced a simple equation — we could fuse the head of an animal with the body of a second animal, the tail of a third, and the legs of the fourth.
And this idea motivated us to go gaga over our the white sheets of our drawing files. We started with the animal’s outline with pencil, followed by filling the body with crayons, and finally outlining with sketch pens. She went to each bench and instilled the idea of being fearless about our amazing animals.
The animals readily come out of their cages, onto our canvas, if we come out of our comfort zones.
And by the end of the 40-minute class, each one of us had a team of four to five amazing animals. Here is what my team looked like:
Irrespective of what we drew, she wrote a ‘Good’ remark along with her sign on every student’s drawing file with a red pen.
In the recess, hide-and-seek games had been replaced by conversations about this topic. Each student was — in that recess — not bothered about what dish friends had brought for the mid-day luncheon, but curious about what their line-up of amazing animals looked like.
Two days later, it was the time for the second and final art class of the week. She was on time that day and the topic on the board that day was ‘A Scene with Amazing Animals’. She believed that each one of us — with our unique batch of amazing animals — had a scene to set and a story to tell. So we had to not only draw our amazing animals, but also a background scene or a world that they lived in.
All of us started by drawing animals and the associated props they happened to require. She went from bench to bench looking at what our innocent minds were up to.
After some time of drawing and sketching, my ‘scene with amazing animals’ was this:
To our dismay, almost all of us had drawn mountains, sun, river, trees, and a hut in the name of a scenery. She then went to the board and edited the title from ‘A Scene with Amazing Animals’ to ‘An Amazing Scene with Amazing Animals’. She expressed to us that our scenes, like our animals, did not need to be the same boring ones. We could draw a line of skyscrapers, a fleet of ships, a galaxy of planets, here too only imagination limited us. This thought stayed with me and transcended further to:
Be it whatever we do and wherever we are in life, we have the potential to come out of the cage and make it amazing. It is not a talent possessed by some beings, but an ability in each one of us.
‘Amazing Animals’ went on to become a special activity of the art class we would wait for curiously every year — curious to know what we had stored in ourselves.
But not only a lesson in creativity, ‘Amazing Animals’ sparks a food-for-thought in the fields of diversity. Each animal is like no one else — and has an important role in telling the story —and so do its fellow animals. When you look at the way these animals originated, it was mere a game of choices — choices of legs, skin, and head. And the creators, i.e. us, felt the feeling of imparting love via diversity when we brought those animals on the canvas. All of us were marked ‘good’ for the originality of our creation. Also, no one had a feeling of dislike or hatred over the amazing animals of one’s friends. Each animal was unique in its character.
Each animal prances fearlessly, for its world is free and its ambitions are high.
So when we, as human beings, grow up and feel the human emotions of competitiveness and hatred, we should also sense the idea that there is an innate beauty in this diversity and each one of us on this planet has a unique story to tell and a special scene to set!