As student of High School in 1986, I got red faced literally many times by my Biology teacher, Mrs. Anjana Guraha. She was hopelessly frustrated by my persistent failures to sketch a a decent and healthy frog as a part of my mandatory project file. When ever I was given this task, I knew that sooner rather than later, I would be slapped for my poor drawings. Art and sketching was certainly not my forte. While my home work projects got helped by my sister, the class work always exposed me. With this handicap, I have always been appreciating anybody and everybody who can sketch something on a paper.
I had been seeing many artists sketching faces in many fairs and markets and had an inherent urge to get myself sketched, sitting idly in a pose with an almost zero hands-eyes movement. I got this opportunity recently while visiting Delhi Haat, where I met one Dharam ji. He had set up just a small kiosk inside the Haat and had put up sketched ads claiming to draw anybody in 15 minutes flat and that too at Rs 400 only. I was enticed by his offer and after some hesitation decided to approach him. This gentleman of almost my age with thick hair and a pointed nose seemed to be an ordinary human being but his eyes hinted that he was an artist and had an eye for the things. He was sitting on a chair idly and waiting for those who would appreciate his art and pay to be sketched.
I approached him and without any bargain on prices requested him to sketch me. He looked at me and smiled. I was probably his first customer(patron of his art) of the evening and offered me a chair just opposed to me. He asked me to sit straight with a slight tilt towards me and asked me to adjust my chin according to his eye level. He told me at the outset thatt I would have to sit for atleast 15 minutes without any movement with eyes looking onto a sketch nearby. It was initialy embarrassing to sit like a statue in a Haat where tooo many people keep on passing by you and few of them looking at you with amusement. I don’t know, if they themselves would have loved to get sketched, but they were smiling at the state of affairs. I settled however in my pose after some time and focused on the painter and his instructions.
He kept on looking at me with his sharp eyes and at the sketch board at regular intervals. He was concentrating on me as a subject and did not look at any other thing while sketching. His focus and concentration was really high. After a while, I got comfortable and followed his instructions with more ease. He appreciated my cooperation and continued to draw the sketch. Few people stood by in between to look alternatively at me and my painting. It was an interesting experience to feel the presence so many persons around and still not deviate from your focus. This continued for around 15 minutes. Then a moment came when he said my job was over and I could move my eyes etc, but not stand up. I had a deep breath and loosened my body. Sitting in this much attention even for 15 minutes was not an easy task really. Dharam Ji was gave final touches to the pictures meanwhile.
Finally with a confidence and satisfaction of an artist, he showed to me my own sketch. I was really happy to see my exact sketch in just 15 minutes. It was really a great piece of work by this little known artist. He had done it in flat 15 minutes and that too for less than the price of a Pizza! I was really happy to see his art and thanked him profusely for his great work. He thanked me in return and before I could talk any more, another boy cajoled by his parents who were standing nearby seeing his work, occupied the seat vacated by me. Dharam Ji started giving him instructions to sit in the specific pose and started his work again with same precision and same commitment.
I thanked him once gain before leaving his place and got the sketch framed there itself. It now occupies a place on the walls of my bedroom. It reminds me of Dharam Ji every day, who toils every day to earn his bread by sketching persons in streets and fairs. I wish one day he could one day become very famous and sell his painting for good.
Good Luck Dharam ji.