In a Nut Shell!
The spark, which ignites the fire of inspiration, may sometimes be just an ordinary speck, a familiar or alien form, a dialogue, a phrase, a gesture, a comment on a less debatable entity or an unknown school of thought. The form, which triggered my artistic senses, is one that is often coupled with a remark!
A comment generally leads into a conversation and exchange of ideas develop into a debate. The debate might become a decent narrative or just a tale not to be told. My work started off with an investigation on a tale, which became a taboo! Does anyone know as to when someone started buzzing the fad of calling the Pathans by the name of a Nut, which is regarded as ‘King of all nuts’? Yes, I am talking about the Walnut! As we say in our language, ‘Akhrot’. Yes! the complete nut itself, with its outer hardcore shell and the beneficial edible seed inside. Why most Pathans get offended when called out by the name of a nut that is known as the ‘King’. Well…obviously because the fad focuses on comparing the hard shell of the Nut with the brain of a Pathan, saying that ‘..Akhrot hai naa..isliye samaj nahe ayaa..'(English: He ‘s a nut, that’s why he doesn’t understand). This taboo exists as a cultural expression in the subcontinent, mainly in metropolitan regions. Its sad that individuals who play with diversity of identities, set a trend that may cause conflicts. It seems that even traditional values and practices also suffer in such acts. Passing on of the firearms from father to son is a heritage practiced by the Pathans from centuries. This does not mean that we are necessarily volatile by nature. Guns and bullets…seems like objects associated with Pathans have overshadowed our qualities and characters. But, not all men take such criticism to the heart. Once, I came into conversation with a Pathan bhai in a local market who didn’t mind being called Akhrot. He stated,”…to kiya huwa ager humko Akhrot ki trhan’ sakht kehtey hein! Inko yeh nahe pata ky iss sakth cheez ky ander bohat he faidamand chez hoti hai, isky ander Mehwah hota hai, Mehwah!” (English: …so what if they call Us hard as a Walnut! Are they not aware that there is a very beneficial thing inside this hard shell, inside their lies a treat, a delicious treat!). This man truly took the fad as i believe it should be taken or should have been.
Yes, i believe that the fad should have been the other way around…comparing the seed inside the nutshell (the so very beneficial and historically acclaimed), which actually looks like a brain, to praise the hidden intelligence of the Pathans and their strength as hard as the shell. Maybe then, this comment would not have become a taboo. Maybe this tale started of with an honorary remark and with time changed into an offensive comment…or maybe not! This taboo is associated with the male gender generally. Why? Well, because an odd concept existing in our times prefers associating the male gender with nuts and the female gender with fruits.
I was once challenged to turn the walnut shell into a form, female enough to be owned as a concept. My inspiration, the Walnut, bore the idea into my mind and I could imagine the possibilities lying ahead…and so…I made this!
My exploration of the Walnut shell to some might seem like a wild choice. For me, it has paved the way into creating works of art, which glorify the idea of identity and individuality. My perception of the tale has always been the other way around and my imagination always lends a hand in breeding ideas that are distinctive enough to challenge my own expertise. I am moved by the weird. Odd methodologies attract me… call me Nuts, but this is who I am! I am a passionate Artist, an intricate work in progress… I was born to be wild. I am tough and ambitious; I am Akhrot!