She painted her whole life. It was of her opinion the colors of her palette and the motion of her brushwork were no less a parable then the words of a sage. However lofty her ambitions may have appeared to others, our Ava held on to certainties that would prove to be right. As her critics viewed her work there was not a glimmer of understanding in their eyes. Their bewilderment only left them with more time to distort the meaning of her work. “What is happening?” they would ask themselves silently. “You need to be more literal.” was always their final piece of advice. Ava could not figure out where the weak point in communication lay, was it her inability to speak or their reluctance to listen? Whatever the answer – her voice or their ears – she continued to labour in vain and bring into being the eloquence she heard inside. Every idea was inwardly perfect, but something was always lost as a consequence of expression. Each attempt at connection unwittingly widened the gap.


The situation deteriorated quickly, to the point where no one would look at her work. After days of neglect Ava, in a fit of anger, threw her wet canvas at a passer by. The lack of reaction infuriated her even more. She continued to throw anything in reach at anyone in sight. Still there was no reaction. Ava was mystified. Was she the butt-end of a joke? No matter how loud she spoke, how hard she hit them, Ava was invisible to the world.


Being thrown into such extraordinary circumstances would cause some to swing axes, but not Ava. Ava felt relief in her abandoned state. She would not have to put up with misunderstandings anymore. Her newfound freedom fed her artistic ambition. The world became her studio and every person and object was her canvas.  The explosion of creativity was wasted though, as she was the only witness to her masterpiece. Ava’s enthusiasm could not sustain itself without others to share it with. While starting a new painting on a couple out for dinner, a wonderful black man politely asked Ava to consider a different shade of yellow, as it clashed with his wife’s skin tone. It was the first time in months that someone had spoken to her. She looked at his wife, who had no idea she was there, and agreed that a deeper hue would be appropriate. The old man told her what he liked and disliked about her work, and assured her there were many more like he. She just had to continue painting and she would find them.



- Daniel Embaye