How I Fell In Love With Silhouettes
A few days ago, a friend posted a picture of a couple and I reacted with a handful of love emojis. Later, he acknowledged my reaction and went ahead to say he did not really understand the fuss about that particular image. Well, I wasn’t expecting him to understand. The picture was a silhouette and I am in love with silhouettes.
We live in a big world and there’s a wide variety of things to fall in love with. For some people, it is music, for others, it is books, and for some others, it is nature. The world is big and the options are unlimited.
I started collecting tickets and receipts sometimes in 2014 and for a long time, I kept them. I had receipts of almost everything I bought, including contraceptives. I made sure I kept bus tickets of my interstate trips and on days when my friends paid for my stuff, I always found a way to be the one who got to keep the receipts. Some days, I’d go through my collection, and just by staring at them, I’d walk down memory lane. It was always a beautiful feeling even though some memories were the opposite of beautiful. Sadly, I recently lost them.
Well, one of the many other things I love and can stare at for a long period of time is a silhouette. If I had my way right now, I would probably be collecting silhouettes (I currently save every silhouette I find on my phone though). Every time I look at a silhouette, I am taken back in time to a night when I was much younger and my parents were still together, that night remains one of the most beautiful nights I have ever experienced.
On the said night, my dad told us someone was coming over to the apartment to see him and we would need to put off all the bulbs in the house when the guest arrived. Although we (my sister and I plus our relatives in the house) did not understand, my mum wasn’t surprised, so I guess she must have been aware of the supposed guest that was going to make us stay in darkness.
The guest arrived and true to my dad’s words, the lights went out. However, before we turned off the light, the guy – who I later found out was an artist – reached for his bag and brought out candles, pencils, and blue cardboard paper.
He taped the cardboard to the wall, lit the candle, and positioned my dad to sit in a way that the shadow of his face (one side though) reflected on the cardboard. There was an adequate amount of space between dad, the candle and the cardboard, and enough space for the artist to trace out dad’s shadow on the cardboard.
For hours, dad sat in the same position, murmuring a few responses to the artist’s instructions at intervals. Calm as never before. Everyone else (my sister and I and our relatives) sat still in the heat and sweated profusely. The room was hot because we had turned off the electric fan to keep the candle burning. So, I watched quietly as sweat trickled down the faces of everyone in the room.
I was excited because I had never seen my father sit still for so long without a newspaper in his hands.
After hours of tracing my father’s shadow on the cardboard, the artist said dad could get up because it was over. He was done with him and while dad was stretching his legs, the artist packed up and left.
Upon his departure, dad told us to wait for the magic that had just been created and although I did not know what to expect, I was excited. I was excited because I had never seen my father sit still for so long without a newspaper in his hands and I felt that whatever could make him quiet for so long must have been important to him and I just couldn’t wait to see it too. My father used to be my idol, and as at then, whatever made him happy made me happy too.
Some days after the light out, the artist showed up at our apartment again and this time around, he had a parcel in his hands wrapped in brown paper. Dad must have told him when to come because he was home when the parcel arrived — he was hardly home to receive guests. A few minutes later, we watched my father tear off the paper and boom!
There it was, a beautiful work of art, beautifully framed with glossy black wood graciously splashed with white paint around the edges. It was unbelievable!
The artist had taken the cardboard with dad’s traced shadow and filled it up with darkness, yet, in the frame, I could see my father’s form. It was absolutely breathtaking!
Dad hung the frame on the living room wall by himself and even after he left, I stood there gazing at the unbelievable work of art. I looked up to that frame every day till my parents separated and I did not have the frame to stare at again.
Now, when I come across silhouettes, I stare at them for as long as I can, taking in the beauty of the image as much as I can because although it’s been years, I’m still that little girl who fell in love with beautiful darkness - silhouettes.
Thanks for walking down memory lane with me. I would really love to know if there’s something you love to collect or would love to have a collection of sometime in the near future. Do share your response with me in the comments section.
Ps. Don’t forget to give a clap if you enjoyed reading this piece. And thanks for sharing in advance.