He promised to draw me in my early years and in my old age, through foul and fair, sparring with the seller of rotten eggs and reading Narekatsi, drinking tea and walking on the Moon, loving and killing. And he drew...
A phantasmagoric face was drawn with coloured crayons on a sheet of paper of considerable dimensions. The apples of the eyes came out flame-red, although they are brown in real life. My face was painted over, scrapped, crossed with extraordinary lines of the most absurd colours, as if it was a topographical map. The lemon-blue hair made it difficult to understand whether it was a dyed head of a punk, or a time-honored greyness, or a funky clown-like wig on the head. How could the artist draw a brunet in such a way! To be honest, in my childhood I was so tow-haired that the skin on the head was transparent. Nevertheless, it was me. This portrait looked much more like me than my real face. Moreover, I seemed to be a bad copy. The eyes attracted most of all. I saw in those eyes the inner most that I felt deep inside myself, though I couldn’t see that in the mirror during 15 years of every-second-day shaving. It was the portrait of my soul!
At the moment I hung the portrait on the wall in my cubby I realized that there was not enough place for it. There was enough place for everything – for a same-size reproduction of the ‘Sistine Madonna’, for pussycat girls from a female band ‘Katz’, for a poster with a herd of horses, for books, a wardrobe, a bookstand, a TV set, a fridge and a load of other things, but not for a portrait. I was trying to hang it everywhere, even on the ceiling! The portrait defied my designer tricks because it needed a lot of space. I realized that everything was in vein and hung it on the wall opposite the sofa to see it better from the bed. The room seemed to be uncomfortable with the portrait, all the things seemed to be in disorder, as if they lost balance.
The most remarkable thing was that the eyes on the portrait changed. Now and then they were either philosophical or crafty, either pensive because of some losses unknown to me or far away dreaming of some little things. The list of all metamorphoses is endless.
The portrait was alive! When the guests came to me, its mood changed. Most of the time it knitted the brows, reverted its eyes as if trying to get rid of an officious, false-faced fellow passenger in the train compartment. Sometimes the portrait was listening attentively to our conversations and felt real grief as if we were talking about the wrong things that were not worth talking about. There were also times, when the portrait became discouraged, withdrew into itself and became stiff for days and weeks as an ordinary drawing. It has to be noted that the portrait was extremely excited each time a new guest came as if it was waiting for some Messiah that would set it free.
I didn’t reveal this secret to anyone.
My guests tried not to pay attention to the portrait at all or asked me delicately to put it away. ‘If only it were your portrait’, their convincing sentence sounded like that. After that they visited me less often. A familiar artist, maybe not an artist at all, estimated laconically: ‘Madmen are usually drawn with red eyes’, and denied to acknowledge the Artist as such at all. I couldn’t dare to tell him whose portrait it was. My mother was the only person who didn’t have any doubts about my alikeness with the portrait. She sorrowfully took a deep breath and said:
‘Darling, you look so old on the portrait, older than me!’. At that moment I clearly felt my terrific vulnerability, as if I were a turtle that came out of its shell. And I couldn’t stand the pressure.
I rolled the portrait into a scroll with a disgusting feeling as if I were rolling myself. I put it behind the drawer unit to gather dust and started dreaming of a mansion with a spacious empty living-room with a marble floor and columns with capitals. There should be a lot of space and perhaps a place for my portrait. Probably, I was no longer able to dream of anything better. I will get to know more about it, if I ever roll the portrait, in other words, my soul.