Chapter 5:

Chapter 5

Mokhoddis School Days Episode II

*Cooooo…. Coooooo.…*

A dove hidden under the bridge cooed, signaling the start of the afternoon. A gentle breeze blew past Mokhoddis, lifting his hair gently up before abruptly dropping it back down. He stood still, focused as if he was cementing himself as part of the scenery. The river in front of him dazzled in the sunlight, reflecting the sun's rays in a million directions. Birds flew in the sky, fish occasionally jumped out of the water, and the people, though sparse, seemed to be engulfed in their own universe.

*Cooo….* The dove cooed again, breaking Mokhoddis out of his train of thought...

He picked up a flat stone, running his fingers up and down the surface looking closely for imperfections on its face. He then got into position and swung his arm. The stone spun into the river. It skipped once, twice, thrice and it crossed to the other side. Mokhoddis gaped in amazement at his raw talent. If only painting came this easy to him.

“Enjoying your youth I see?” A voice came from behind Mokhoddis.

Mokhoddis quickly turned around to see who the voice came from. He analyzed the person, a man in his mid-30s, given away by the scraggly facial hair and the prominent nasolabial folds. Even while sitting down, Mokhoddis could tell this stranger was a large guy. He was covered in a trenchcoat and left a deep shadow on the ground. He held a paintbrush in his right hand and a palette in his left which was concealed in his coat allowing only his thumb to be visible. The palette contained globs of yellow, red, and white. “Was he painting something?” He quickly mixed the red and yellow to make orange and let a gentle stroke across the canvas. The stroke followed a linear path until it quickly turned, continued, and returned to its initial trajectory. “Yellow, orange, red… was this man painting a sunset?”

“You must think a lot huh? Or did you just not hear my question?” The Man put his paintbrush in a cup full of other brushes and selected a thicker brush.

“Oh, sorry I got lost in my thoughts. Are you painting a sunset?” Mokhoddis smiled in embarrassment.

“I am, you’re quick.”

“Can I take a look at your painting?”

“Sure, why not?”

“His painting was unconventional and made no logical sense, the sunset was not over any kind of landscape Mokhoddis has ever seen. There were no trees, no grass, not even a river or ocean in sight. Instead, the landscape consisted of a thousand hands clawing their way out of a barren wasteland with a little boy standing in the middle of it all, staring at the bright orange sun that had the face of a clock amongst a sky full of stars.” Mokhoddis was bedazzled.

Watching this man paint was different from the Goldfinch art student. He painted with calculated strokes and color palettes, yet at the same time, his creativity was out of this world. He painted like Mr.Deyoung. This man must be a professional at his work.

“You like my painting huh?” The man looked at Mokhoddis.

“Yeah, the way you paint is very different from how I’ve seen others do it. It’s like you have the brush tamed.”

“Hahaha, that comes with time, you know I wasn’t always a good painter. Hell, I saw painting as a waste of time when I was your age. But a certain man changed my perspective on painting.”

“What made you change your mind?” Mokhoddis’ eyes widened.

“Think about it this way. In video games or sports, there are a set of rules that you follow. In painting, however, you break the rules when you create your own world. Now, how cool is that?!”

“I see,” Mokhoddis replied, awed at the man’s words.

“I didn’t catch your name by the way.”

“It's Mokhoddis”

“I'm Rashid” Rashid reached out to shake Mokhodis’s hand. Mokhoddis quickly noticed that Rashid had scars lined his forearm, some barely noticeable, and others more so. Was this caused by painting? Mokhoddis felt it was too rude to ask.

They both shook each other’s hands.

“Mokhoddis, would you like to see my collection?”

“Yeah, sure. I got time.”

As the dove’s coo silenced, the wind started to pick up. It was chilly as the sun lowered from its peak. It was nearing dusk. They sat on the grassy slope leading to the river. Rashid showed Mokhoddis his collection of paintings over the years. Some were portraits of people, others were landscapes. What all the paintings had in common was that each one had its own world and its own rules only limited by the painter himself. Mokhoddis noticed that some of the older paintings had very noticeable odd lines. The lines were too straight or some were too curvy to the point where it looks like someone was painting during an earthquake.

But looking at Rashid’s paintings now, none of those odd-shaped lines were present. Every line smoothly blended into one another. This gave Mokhoddis hope that painting wasn’t out of his reach.

Mokhoddis got up and wiped the grass off his back.

“Heading out Mokhoddis?” Rashid asked.

“Yeah it's getting late, but thanks for showing your paintings''

“Of course! By the way, Mokhoddis, if you want to see my completed painting, I will be visiting the riverwalk for inspiration until Friday.”

“I see.” Mokhoddis walked away smiling.