This exquisite oil by Anup Gomay depicts a snatch of rural life in India. A lady stands next to the household well, her hand around a big brass kalash. The brick well is of just the right height, so as to allow the womenfolk to bend over and fetch the water - fetching water is woman's work, a ubiquitous norm. The rope that works the pulley lies upon the stones by the well, which the lady is supposed to pick up and wind around the neck of the kalash before she lets it plunge into the depths of the water. Pools of pristine, underground water gather amidst the surrounding stones; she stands on one of them, her feet balanced ever so carefully that she does not slip and fall, her hands slightly lifting her kapdaa so that its hem does not get soaked.
Despite the natural order of Indian village life this painting seemingly depicts, there is something amiss about the subject. She looks eerily askance at the fourth wall, almost as if she somehow knows she is being painted and is leisurely posing for it. Her hand rests on the kalash like she would embrace an old friend, not like how she would hold it in place while she makes for the rope. Her composure of figure does not in the least suggest that she is about to go for the rope. The twin expressions of discomfiture and relief compose her youthful, moon-like countenance. It is probably the dramatics typical of severely patrilocal households that has driven her into the courtyard, seeking some respite from the same on the pretext of this chore.
Her attire betrays the situation to some extent. The coarse, household saree that she has hurriedly draped - hurriedly, because there are no pleats - is in stark contrast to the pink silk-and-brocade blouse she is wearing. Additionally, a plethora of gold jewels graces her person - ruby-studded jhumke on the lobes, smaller studs across the rest of the ear, a glittering dangling nosepiece, at least two necklaces visible beneath her kapdaa, and chunky gold and glass bangles. Her luxuriant toerings and anklets are fashioned from silver instead of gold (gold, the very manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi, is not to be placed around the feet). Her dense, black tresses rest uncoiled at the nape of her neck, even though the parting is filled with sindoor. It is almost as if she was getting dressed to go out, when there had occurred some sort of a water emergency and caused her to run out half-undressed.
Behind the subject is the wall demarcating the courtyard from the rest of the house. The colour of raw earth caked over a brick framework, as could be deduced from the chipped portion to the right of the painting, the way natural light falls on it is superbly lifelike. The soft glow of daylight illuminates the upper part of the wall at a realistic angle, whilst a sombre shadow bathes the rest of it. It is the skilful projection of daylight in the background and on the shimmering kalash that renders this a masterpiece of Anup Gomay.
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