The Canvas

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“You know, ain't no problem in the world you can't fix by adding colors to it. Life is all shades and hues, and you are the artist. Yah just gotta pick your colors.” A man in perhaps his sixties came to sit beside Sesei. He spoke in a strange accent. He had well groomed silky grey hair and beards. His eyes were white and deep like the oceans. Fine wrinkles lined the side of his eyes and his skin was smooth as olives.

Sesei was mesmerized by the sight of the old man and for a moment he forgot all about his frustration. He needed some air and had walked to the park to clear his mind. He had just come out of an argument with his parents. They wanted to move from the NINER town again. It was the third time they had moved in a year.

It was affecting his mind and it didn't help his social status even. Sesei couldn't make any friends no matter how much he tried. And just when he'd start to get used to his environment, his parents would move again. This made Sesei a loner with many wishes in life.

“Have you held a brush before? The world is your canvas. You could try it sometime. It is therapeutic. Paint whatever picture you want to see and hold nothing back. It is all in your mind.” The old man spoke without blinking an eye. He seemed fixated on something so far yet so present in the conversation. He looked like a regular senior but had a different aura about him. An air of wisdom and magnificence. Something Sesei couldn't put a finger on.

Sesei was always able to read people's actions and categorize them into factions in his head. Because he was considered weird and didn't have any friends, he always sat by his windowpane to observe passersby. As if being an only child wasn't hard enough for Sesei, he always had to deal with constant teasing from his mates.

While they liked to play and hang out, sesei preferred to muse about the mind, what makes people act the way they do and things that conventional theories can't explain. He wanted a much stable life and a chance to make real friends and not just the imaginary ones in his head.

Sesei looked into the old man's eyes. He couldn't make out any expression. All he could see was his own face in the old man's eyes. It was the first time Sesei perceived himself as strong and wilful. Literally through the eyes of an old man. He saw strength and confidence too.

That was weird to Sesei. He could always tell a little about a persons current emotions just by looking into their eyes. The old man got up to leave. He picked up his cane and began to walk away away. “Tenth house on the left” he said as he moved. “Remember, it is all in your mind”.

The next evening, Sesei walked to the 10th house on the left in his street. He couldn't stop thinking about the old man. The house looked very picturesque but abandoned on the outside. He knocked on the door and waited for a few seconds before turning the knob.

Inside the house was equally scenic with many scattered furniture, portraits, and painting tools. Colors spilled across the dusty curtains and nearly invisible marbled floors. It looked like a classic mess. The panoramic view plus the dense air put Sesei in a bit of daze. He saw blank canvases with different arrays of tools as if waiting for him.

Instantly, he picks up a pen and imagines a world he had always wanted to be in. He had began day dreaming of colorful skies, talking animals, fairies and pixies, angels and demons. A world where the old and new come to live as one. A city where no person or creature was strange. Just simple coexistence. He starts to paint like a maniac in a state of trance even though he never held a brush before.

He dripped of paint and sweat. Panting, he stepped back to look at his creation. He felt like he was spinning in a gallery exhibition created by the world's most genius minds. What he saw was beyond his imagination. It was so phenomenal it scared the life out of him and so he ran home.

“Where are you coming from? You didn’t say before you left the house and why are you covered in paint?” his mother inquired.

“Ummh! I was at the 10th house on the left” Sesei was out of breath.

“Son are you alright? This is the NINers town and all streets end on the ninth house.” his Dad adjusted his glasses to look at his son.

Sesei’s eyes lit up. His father was right. He turned and headed for the door ignoring his parents call. While he ran back frantically, he recalled his encounter with the old man and everything he said. The ninth house was a dead end. Then he remembered the old man's last words. “It is all in your mind”.

Sesei smiled as he walked back home. He wasn’t bewildered and he knew from then that things were going to change. He would live his life to the fullest, enjoy the sun on his face and try to make new friends. He would create the life he wanted regardless of where he was and what life threw at him. After all, the world was his canvas and he was going to make a beautiful picture out of it.

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