A Curious Night With Van Gogh

Fiction Apr 09, 2020

Ain’t no wonder I never had none to say, about a night so secret and a time so young. Dragging myself across the streets of Paris, carrying with me a baggage of heartbreaks, I stumbled upon Mr. Vincent Van Gogh.

It was no time for validations, I was dealing a lot with problems of my own. He says with his 19th century voice, “Hello Miss Damsel in distress, remember familiarity breeds contempt, the better you know someone the less you like him. Have a seat, make yourself comfortable.”

I was disgusted and weary, but nothing had ever felt so true.

I noticed, Mr. Vincent had only one ear, it was as if someone chopped it off.

“A butterfly,”

He looked at me. “huh?”

“A butterfly was once struggling to cut open through a cocoon, a man saw it and took a blade, sliced the edge of cocoon. The butterfly got its way out, the man thought it’ll be beautiful, but the butterfly comes out and falls. And then it dies. Few things do need help but not necessarily be helped. Nature has its own way of teaching us how to fly.”

He seemed to be painting the street, I was pleased by the way he painted, he used vibrant colours, the sky on his canvas depicted the flow of river, with turbulences, unsteady yet still.

The alcohol had kicked, I was ponderous, I said, “it’s easy for you to preach, you are dead long away, what about me? I am still in it!”

I was sulking.

He sat morosely contemplating, and responds, “I was nine.”

“what!?”

“I was nine when I first saw my grave. In bold letters. Vincent Van Gogh, 1852- ”

I asserted, “people don’t lie while in dreams Mr. Vincent”

“But to my dismay, my parents had a child before me, he too was named Vincent, and he was stillborn.”

He laughed, I laughed alongside too.

He quoted, “it doesn’t always have to be bizarre and freakish”

I was about to pass out, it felt all shaky and confusing.

I wanted to speak but all my words found no way out of throat,

“it’s alright, you have been stressing yourself a lot, just don’t speak at all.”

“hmm..”

He seemed to be lost in his painting. For that damn night, I knew it’s all a part of dream, not real, something made up, but true and unvarnished.

I ask, “what’s with the ear?”

“you see madam, my life was troublesome, I lived my life on the basis of money sent by my brother Theodore, and when I couldn’t take being a burden to anyone anymore, be it my brother or the mental asylum I was in, that’s when I shot myself. Slicing my ear off was one such decision too.”

I was stunned, but that night I understood. Pain is an escape. And pleasure an entrance.

He started, “Many people say they found love as if they found a thing, a lost object or something subtle with a tangible form to it, but its an abstract, like being kind, hatred, curiosity. Maybe what they need to know is what you see in other person and love them is basically a hallucination of what you supposed them to be. When it flickers the person changes and you want them to be what you saw, and that’s when  distance occurs. Cut to the point, I feel Love can be summed up as, ‘I am your hallucination and you are mine’. And what’s done in love is done well.”

It started becoming a little wavery, it was a lot to take, I was in a total shamble, and of what I thought and I felt, I would have wept, but the night dissolved into dawn, and I see him walking away, and that was the farthest memory of him.

To make a long story short, I recently stopped by Muséed'Orsay, an art gallery in Paris, and I happened to eavesdrop on someone saying something familiar I had heard before. I cut through the crowd and I reached a placard saying ‘A long-lost painting by Vincent Van Gogh, confirmed and sold for 20 million.’

And there it was, against the wall, a painting of a women on the streets of Paris, named ‘Miss Damsel In Distress’.

-Rohit Jadhav

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