Pentimento-A A +A
Talk to Me
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
“KONTI pa sa kaliwa,” she instructs her husband as he positions the large painting on the living room wall of their newly owned house. “Okay na ba? Mabigat eh…” he begins to complain as he tries to move the massive painting to the left. “Kanan ng kaunti,” she immediately replies as he misses the mark by half an inch. “Ayan, gitna na?” He says as his arms begin to tremor. “Sakto! Ipako mo na dyan!” She shouts triumphantly. After almost an hour of adjusting, positioning and repositioning from wall to wall, they finally get the perfect location for an old painting of a quiet sunset on one of the seaside ports in her hometown. It now hangs perfectly as a centerpiece on the white-washed wall between two large French windows.
The couple sits back on the couch, their feet up on the low table in front of them. She leans on his shoulder as they watch the captured moment on the painting. “Ano ‘yun?” He mentions in a low tone as he points out to one part of the painting. “Ang alin?” She wonders as she tries to follow his gaze. “Yung nasa bandang clouds, dun sa may horizon ng painting. Puno ba yun?” She finds what he is looking at. Recognizing the image, she stands up and walks closer to the painting. She runs her fingers through it. She remembers.
Do you still remember the choices you did not choose?
As I was scanning my shelf for literary pieces to use for a project, I came upon a torn page from a book neatly tucked between the pages of another book that my aunt sent me years ago. She found the book in a shop and after opening it and reading the “extra page,” she instantly thought of me because I was renewing my interest in oil painting back then. The extra page reads: “Old paint on canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent.” This means that images that were originally painted on a canvas may resurface decades after they have been painted over. As the torn page describes, “a tree will show through a woman’s dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea.” The writer calls this, “pentimento,” meaning the painter repented and changed his mind. He further describes pentimento as “a way of seeing and then seeing again.”
As the original image reappears on the new painting, the painter is reminded of his original concept that he changed for something that he thought was better. Our lives sound very much the same as what the writer had called pentimento.
We constantly make choices. Once we make these choices, we let go of what we did not choose. But sometimes at some point in the future, we will come across people, places and things that we did not pick. When this happens, only then that we can compare the actual lives that we live with the life that we could have lived had we chosen the other path.
“May puno ba talaga dyan?” Her husband asks. “Wala… wala na ngayon,” she replies. “Siguro, nagbago ng isip yung gumawa. O baka kinidlatan ‘yung puno habang pini-paint ‘yan,” he jokes. She smiles at him. She smiles because she remembers. The painting was a gift from her first love. The tree was their special place. He started painting it for her when they were still together. But things did not work out well for them. He was young and she was too high spirited for her. They parted ways. He left the painting to her as a gift. Before he gave it, he painted over the tree because it simply died. For her first love, it was an epitome of their relationship.
“Tara, ‘yung kusina naman ang ayusin natin!” She livens up with a beaming smile. He sighs, “Teka, mamaya na. Pagod pa ako,” he complains. “Ang hina naman ng tuhod mo,” she teases him with a push. “Sa kuwarto na lang tayo mag-ayos,” he teases her back with a wink and a gentle nudge on the shoulder. The couple quickly runs upstairs.
Remembering brings up a smile. But choices made unfold more thrills in the future.
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Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 15, 2013.