Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sheebu Weds Sheffa

The yellow, rectangular pieces of paper littered the desolate street. The warm breeze scattered them, arranging them in haphazard patterns before displacing them again. The wafer-thin bits were now worthless reminders of a wedding that had taken place, two suns before the festival of Holi. Besides the matching horoscopes of the bride and groom, the first two letters of their names mirrored one another.

And the local printer had thought himself an artist as he had stretched and enlarged the letters ‘S’ and ‘H’ dotting them with flowers and had added the remaining letters, curling the tips, exaggerating the slants, compressing the gaps and shortening the lengths, creating an odd word salad that had lacked a celebratory flavor and an appealing presentation.

Proud of his creation, the printer had shown the printing proof to the yet to be married couple’s aged grandfathers. Neither could see clearly beyond the tips of their noses. The two men couldn’t decide whether to crease their eyes or keep them wide open. Fatigue was a constant companion and only an armlength away when one’s existence was approaching the mark of a century.

The nods of their balding heads and the smacks of their pruned lips had dismissed the printer, their approvals nothing but groggy old men slipping into deep slumbers. And the printer had returned to his shop and prepared his machine, a rusted and moody catastrophe, to print the leaflets on the best quality paper that could be procured in the region. His hand had cranked the lever arm till one hundred frail invitations sat in the cracked tray.

He had eyed them with the lust of an unfulfilled lover and caressed the paper with the calloused tips of his fingers. They were the labor of his creativity which only he knew existed. To be delivered by four in the evening, the man had bathed and dressed, combing his freshly oiled hair into symmetrical divisions. The skip in his step and the hum in his heart had taken him to the temple where both families had assembled.

The first invitation would be offered to the goddess. With her blessings in place, the remainder would be distributed before sundown. The execution of auspicious duties demanded the light of the day. When the pot-bellied priest had read the first invitation aloud, sudden quiet had descended. It wasn’t the type of silence that offered relief, but the kind that brought with it numerous questions.

‘What was that?’

‘Come again?’

‘How can that be?’

The priest had repeated his words with a deliberate drag and a concentrated emphasis.

‘Sheee-boooo Behhh-dddsss Shehh-ffaaahh.’

‘What the hell does that mean?!’

The mood had begun to change to anger. The printer had scratched his cheek, the priest had rubbed his eyes, but the words were set in black, firm upon the paper.

Sheebu Beds Sheffa

In his quest for beauty, proportion, and perfection, the printer had transformed the word ‘Weds’ into ‘Beds’, the unintentional change of ‘W’ to ‘B’ more of a failed attempt at a unique, artistic concoction. But before he had had the chance to explain, his collar had been seized and his face, back and bottom had become the target of robust, rubber chappals.

Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap! Slap!

Oh the pain, the shame, the disgrace. It had hung heavy upon the man as he had cranked the lever arm again, reprinting one hundred leaflets, rectifying his past mistake, bearing the entire cost of the repeated operation. And the new invitations had reached their intended destinations, only to be crumpled and thrown away as soon as the wedding ceremony had culminated.

The printer lugged his machine and his belongings on the back of his bicycle. He was leaving the village for undiscovered places and brighter opportunities. His craft deserved respect and adoration, and there was none left for him here. The breeze carried a yellow paper, and it stuck to the man’s pants right below his knee. He stopped and looked at it, tears brimming in his eyes, its worn state a reflection of his own desperation.

No more wedding invitations. No more surrendering to creative inclinations.

No more an artist would he be.

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24 Comments on “No More an Artist – Fiction Short Story

  1. Aww…this is heart-breaking… I’m thinking every one of us has experienced something like this in our lives at least once. I know I have. The heady high of pride in something we’ve put our hearts and souls into, only to have those feelings dashed upon the rocks amid acorn and embarrassment. Poor dude. I hope he found redemption and I hope, after a time, he chose to follow the artist path once more. Brilliant writing, Terveen. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Mike. I guess this story does come from a place we all harbor deep inside. Wanting, trying, and not getting the desired results. But the spirit of not giving up and picking oneself up should never die. I hope he gets around to embracing his artistic instincts again. I always appreciate your reflections! They are so good and wise. 🙂

    • Haha! I thought that might be intentional. A good spelling mistake can work wonders (disasters). The printer can vouch for that. 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed this, Terveen. A great piece of writing to start the weekend. I felt the printer’s pain, although I do enjoy how one misplaced word can change the whole context of something. A good smelling mistake can be priceless. 😁

    • Haha! Thanks so much, Davy. I guess one word here or there can make a world of a difference. Good or bad, now that depends…
      I hope the printer is able to find some stable footing. It’s never nice to lose one’s hopes and dreams. And a small bit of humor can go a long way. I truly appreciate it! 🙂

  3. Sheebu beds Sheffa… well, why not get straight to the point? Bit blunt, but hey ho… Loved this story. Artistic license comes with its own set of problems. Oh, the pain of the misunderstood artist… I particularly enjoyed how you set the scene, I could picture the streets with yellow paper strips from the ceremony a couple of days ago vividly and wondered where you would take your unsuspecting reader this time… Perhaps the grandfathers should book in for an eye test? Here in the UK, there’s an ad ‘Should have gone to Specsavers’, and the company often have very similar storylines for their ad campaigns.

    • Haha! The printer wasn’t too wrong with his mistake. It would’ve eventually happened. Isn’t it? Yes, the misunderstood artist. The woes….
      And the grandfathers could do with pairs of glasses. Would’ve saved the printer much pain. Do you think this story may cut it for the advertisement campaign?
      Or maybe for a disheartened artists support group?
      I guess we’ve all been there some time or the other. Thanks so much and always appreciate your lively and witty comments, Britta. 🙂

  4. Poor fellow, could feel his sadness. Penalized unfairly for something quite common in these parts. Nice one, Terveen.😊

    • Thank you so much, Diti. At times, trying to be different in thought and action doesn’t pay the way we want it to. I suppose one must be prepared to bear it but still move forward with determination. 🙂

  5. This one is a mixture of horrifying, funny as only you can be, which is very funny, and sad too. You opened the reader up to a myriad of emotions and sensations in this beautiful write, Terveen. 😊 I adore it.

    • Thank you so much, Jeff. That’s a wonderful compliment to cherish. I guess humor, horror, and sorrow are unlikely companions but still have an inclination to stick together.
      Have a wonderful week and keep writing and inspiring. 🙂

      • You’re most welcome, Terveen. Always. They do have an inclination to stick together. Agreed. Thank you, my friend. A wonderful week to you too. 😊

  6. This is a great story but I couldn’t help but feel bad for the printer. I can understand such a small mistake can really make a lot of people mad. I felt sorry for him. People are not very forgiving in our world, which is too bad. You always get a bit of humor and sorrow in your work. Great story, thank you Terveen, Big hugs, Joni

    • That’s a reality none of us can escape from. I have a habit of putting humor and sorrow together. Maybe to balance out the resulting feeling. One has to find peace somewhere. And a little laughter might make the bad times better. Really appreciate you and your words, Joni. Always… 🙂

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