Girlhood, 2020

I saw this group of girls while parking my car in Goa. It really struck me how their friendship was so close. To me, this signalled that there was a balance in their lives, they had each other. This has also been the case in my life. My friends have been my support. Without them I do not think I could have managed and faced the challenges that came into my path.

When I first came to India, communication was not what it is now. I might be able to speak to my family twice a month for three minutes at the most. So I was quite lonely and had no one to talk to about my problems. Slowly I started making friends who then became my family.

This little group in the painting looked so united in spite of the fact that they are from different age groups. The middle girl is the smallest one and just a little child. She still has her toy in her hand. The older friend has her hands on the little one’s shoulders, steadying her protectively. The eldest girl on the right has her arm protectively covering both smaller girls. Her expression is very different. She looks worldly wise and is on the threshold of leaving childhood and knows it. Her glance shows alertness.

It can be seen that these little girls’ parents love them. Look at how they are dressed. Loving attempts have also been made to give them nice hairstyles.

For me, this painting is also an example of what can result from the kind of awareness that I have when I am going somewhere. I look around and do not let all kinds of random thoughts enter my head. I am mindful and observe, my antenna sharp and attentive. It was in this state that I noticed these girls and I immediately understood their story.

I am very interested in people and am not bored when I listen to them tell me their story. I give them my full attention. When I look at things in my area of vision, I do the same. I look at every aspect. What is the mood? Where is the light coming from? What are the colours? What is the visual texture? This painting is a very perfect example of the result of this type of observation.

The story of the girls is clear. A protective structure surrounds them but there is a hint of poverty. On the left-hand side we see dirty rags nailed to the door. There is plenty of visual texture. There is the sand, there is the corrugated roof, there are lattices on the doors. Notice the different textures of the dresses they have a wavelike effect, like the roof.

The girls stopped for a moment during the freedom of their play time. Only one is wearing footwear, the others have their feet buried comfortably in the sand. The structure behind them is colourful. It gives a hint of a what may be a cage but everything stands there unsteadily. The colours are those of hope.