Whitewashing my kitchen

The walls have gotten stained from years of cooking, throwing liquid waste into the bin. The gooey brown stuff has left stains on the wall. Little brown droplets of tea from the leftover water in the teabags have splashed all over like little flagellating fish gasping for breath after they have been taken out of the water.

My little Mesmer black tea bags, Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, but mostly Earl Grey. The teabag fish have stained labels from being dipped in water for too long before I decided my tea was strong enough and the milk and water was not just a brown liquid with no flavour. There are turmeric stains, from the constant frying, stains from freezer bags that I once took out, stains on the walls from the incessant frying of coriander seeds, brown, red, yellow, mostly brown and yellow. The walls look old. They need a fresh coat of paint. The stains have made their way into the closets, little insects hum around the cupboard as if waiting for them to magically open themselves to the treasures that lie within the closeted cookies, biscuits and bags of rice that have made their way into the numerous shelves that line the tiny cooking niche I call my kitchen. The paint is come, the brush has been unpacked from its tight plastic wrapping. The tub is open, I have pried out the lid with my Medusa-like fingernails. I get a chair, for want of a ladder, which will establish me to the heights of my ceiling, enabling me to reach the very corners of the walls that have also, as expected, yellowed like parchment. The brush is dipped, slowly, into the white viscous liquid we call paint. Blobs and bubbles fly all over my fingers, up to my hands which I have unfortunately forgotten to secure in my yellow working gloves. The blobs, yes. They fly, they dance, they splash like they have a life of their own. I tame them, urge, beg, plead. I pull out the brush from the viscous madness and draw a simple straight line right above the tiled ceramic floor. A blob falls, is wiped out with a little pink cleaning cloth. The brush moves upwards and as if suddenly soaking in the poetry of the Rhine, plays a chaotic tune on the walls, left, right, centre, down, random, like a violinist trying to play Mendelssohn and not succeeding at it, tugging at the strings, screeching, drying up. The painter joins in the war, splashes left and right. Away from the restrictions of cupboard-ends and floors she can wildly lash the brush whichever way she wants to, a spiral here and some noughts and crosses and a cross here, a circle there and i win and draw a diagonal line across the crosses that have bestowed victory upon me. The fog begins and rises, my brush moves, painting the fog as it spreads around the innocently waiting kitchen wall…until the tub serenades the brush, calling upon it for the one redeeming dip. My hand, as if mesmerized, dips into the white liquid, sinking, sinking. The viscosity has a life of its own, it swallows my hand, deep inside, like a blob monster eating its prey. I pull, there is a sticky sucking sound and my hand reappers, white, like Michael Jackson’s glove. The brush begins to paint Caspar David Friedrich’s fog, I, the wanderer in a sea of white paint, with no rocks, only infinite whiteness that hypnotizes me as I paint. The anarchy reveals itself. The walls are a pristine white, the ceiling, a smattering of blobs and wayward brush strokes. I get off the chair, create some distance and frame my kitchen in my mind, train my eyes to not look above at the ceiling, practising my walk as I strain not to jerk up my head and look to find a mess. La Guernica is complete. The war is over. Picasso is tired.

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