Peel or Fade?


Time spares nobody. I may peel off but you shall fade away. Fade away. Fade away. It’s all a matter of time.

Is this all you have with you? Are you sure you cannot impart anything anymore? Hurry Sir, you have no time left.

I have taught you everything. This is all I know. Hurry up and understand before the paint peels away and obliterates me.

Thank you, oh thank you for all this. And now I shall let everybody know, of course, I speak, on your behalf…

That will not be necessary. Your gratitude grates, in all its insincerity. Hold on before you begin your long, tiresome tirade, I have a last request to ask of you. I don’t have much time left. You have modelled yourself on my likeness. I have always been plain, not preferring colour, always intending to be plain, that has been my chosen path, and you, being a little green behind the ears, fancy yourself in a splash of colour. As if the coat of paint you splash on shall last!

Why? Sir? Does it offend you to see me develop my personality and grow thus? My take on what I learnt from you, I bettered it. It was because I had the ability that I used paint, you could also have done so, who stopped you?

Nothing. Sometimes I wonder if I had done the right thing imparting to you all that I had, maybe you weren’t ready enough.

Excuse me Sir, take a good look at me. You are losing your head now that the paint there is peeling off. I have always been ready. In fact nobody can beat me…

It has now come to this. I don’t have time to sugar coat this. Plain talk now. You had nothing. You followed me till I gave in. God gave me enough, I did not need what you had to offer. I gave up what I had, time, energy and inner peace, to accommodate you. To make you feel a little less inadequate. And now, with your blue socks and fancy cap, you are the cynosure of all eyes.

Do you mean to say that I had no innate capacity but just achieved all this because of you? I may have learnt from you, but I bettered myself, every step of the way.

Yes, I concede that. Your resilience and single-minded pursuit of your goals were all your own. I had nothing to do with all that.

I owe you nothing.  My blue socks, my fancy headgear are all my own. Look at you, you are not capable of splashing on a little colour on yourself, in fact with all your knowledge are you even able to prevent yourself from being peeled off?

It saddens me that this is all that you, in your haste, have managed to grab from my store. My knowledge has been the fruit of years of pain, hard work and understanding. Your learning has been an offshoot of mine. It isn’t intrinsically yours. Therefore you cannot even understand-

Oh, don’t undermine my intelligence. I  understand your words perfectly. The sad thing is that you have no more relevance left. And that is something you need to realize, for all your wisdom. Look at you, peeling away. Soon there won’t even be a sign that you had ever existed.

I might chip away, peel away, but till the last bit of my self is peeled away I shall have retained my identity and finally at least when I’m gone, people shall wonder at my absence. My absence shall have become greater than my presence.

You could always turn a phrase.  I’ll concede that.

The space that I had taken up cannot even be occupied by another, leave alone fathomed. And that is how the natural order of things should be. You don’t count on everything you learn, to be flaunted at a foolish world, taken in by a bit of colour. Storing away every bit of knowledge you claw from the earth, you regurgitate everything till you stun the world with the confusion of cogitations and excogitations you spew.  You intend only to impress.

I do nothing of that sort. You cannot sit there and accuse me…

If the others matter to you so much, your thoughts and cogitations need to flee from you, scouring the world and touching a flower here, improving its tint, splashing on a butterfly there,making it more brilliant.

I know what to do.

Only if I am painfully peeled off will I get release, blessed release. I am born into a thousand different pigments and tones once I am destroyed here. My destruction paves my way to better things in the future.

Huh? I am certainly not going to peel away. I have a lot left to do, scale greater heights…

You may not peel away. You certainly know how to hold on. Remember, you are, but colour, bits of pigment crushed and added to a medium.


If you do not know your purpose in life and, more importantly, know yourself, you are going to remain here, haunting this wall like a ghost not knowing what to do, unable to see the light that guides you away from a hell of your own making.


Fading away, every day with the sunshine beating on you, dissolving a little with the tearful rain, and the wind covering you with a layer of dust every time he blows. You have no options left. You shall lose all semblance of self, it is commendable I can even say self, because apparently I haven’t seen even the existence of one.


Yes, you have completely neglected that area of growth in your pursuit of external appearances and instant gratification. Just look at your blue socks and your cap.

My socks are my own. I worked hard, I deserve them and my cap, it was the gift of the ruler of this land who saw so much in me, and was pleased enough with me, to reward me for my extreme resourcefulness.

And this is irrefutable proof of all that I have to say. You show great pride in satisfying your thirst and the interest you evinced in acquired knowledge.  It is time for me to go. I wish you well.


Much can be said for integrity and detachment. Learn while you can, listen to the voice inside, before it gets silenced. And oh, practise silence while you can.

Oh, peel off!

I may peel off but you shall fade away.


No substance within, you are a ghost, neither here nor there…

Silence finally.

The blue-socked dandy cringed and watched as the paint continued to peel away further, mercifully  the mouth of the one whom he could not bear to listen to, any more. He could see the body tense and relax as if in engaging in animated conversation, but as there was no mouth, not a word was heard. But he felt his anger, contempt and impatience. He was happy when, finally, the entire figure had peeled away.

When the wind scattered him here, once, after many years, he glimpsed the fate of the blue-socked one, now an ineffectual ghost, for those who do not work on themselves and on forging their identities, stand the risk of losing themselves, even if they cling desperately to walls of fame.

He wondered at the futility of it all, the webs of deceit and the cocoons of denial, as he gathered forces with the returning wind and prepared to leave.

In a gust he was gone, to touch another land, to grace another life.



11 thoughts on “Peel or Fade?

  1. I always enjoy your writing. You are able to capture so much depth and feeling and convert those intangible things into well-written words. Also, to think this entire piece was inspired by a single word, “paint,” is truly impressive. You keep writing, I’ll keep reading! Thanks for sharing this.

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