Sudesh Mahan

He dropped in for tea at 11 today. Where we sat in the living room is the large portrait of Gandhiji he sold me two years ago. The painting is his reflection on the Gujarat riots, when some crazed men born into hindu households rioted, chanting God’s name as they killed hundreds of muslims. The oil is knife-painted on a bright, snow-white background, Gandhiji’s body is charred, the glow from the head is radiant even with the white all round. He is seated on legs both folded under him on one side - his favorite posture, which makes his torso bend sideways and sink delicately - and his head is bowed and villages are in flames at his feet. Gandhiji was born in Gujarat.

Sudesh brought us a book of his kannada poetry, nicely printed. (Kannada books do not have a large circulation though there are over forty million kannadigas, so the quality of the publications is poor, in spite of a great body of work in the language.) He gave also a beautiful calendar with pictures and sayings of Gandhiji on each page. Then, he showed prints of his recent works: a series of Buddhas in brass. Among them, he was most proud of Abdulla’s Buddha, on which theme he has a poem in his book; it is inspired by his muslim butcher who kills goats all the time, but keeps one goat that he loves and tends and will not kill.

But I ordered for another Buddha - Mute Buddha - which he will make in copper for me in three weeks.