And just like every other thing neil owns, these come with their own story.
It was one of the regular baazars held in the university. We loved bazaars of any kind, as they were one of the very few extraordinary treats in our otherwise routine and mundane campus life. There were people selling food, clothes, things, things and more things. One stall that stood out amongst the rest was the one set up by this young man, an artist. Spread out before him were countless colour sketches of sorts - including characters from popular Japanese animes of the time.
One drawing that caught my eyes particularly was that of Kenshin, the "wandering samurai" of the anime that I was, at that time, obsessed with. It was sketched in ink, on plain, A4-sized paper, perhaps not remarkable to many - but my eyes it caught! The drawings were selling for RM3 each. That amount may not even be enough to buy you a decent lunch these days, but in those days, for a student not yet earning her own keep, it was quite something.
Perhaps it was that that kept me quiet when approached by the young artist. Seeing that I was somewhat interested, yet reluctant to make the purchase, he offered to draw me another piece, something I would like better, maybe?
Ah well - why not? It was going to take some time, he said, so why don't I walk around a little while he got started? And I did - I went away for several minutes, but then decided I would much rather watch him at work. It's always interesting to watch others do what I myself couldn't - and so I went back. To my horror, the artist had drawn a complete pencil outline of a silly, grinning Kenshin, sitting down, with his sword idling at his side!
I didn't want that! The guy looked at me, shrugged, nonchalantly crumpled and threw away that sketch. I gasped! He didn't have to do that! It's cool, he said, he'd just draw me another one. But, he could had sold the silly, grinning Kenshin as well! It's ok, he said, so in which pose would I like my Kenshin? Oh well, I told him then - serious, no grinning, in the ready-to-attack stance. And he went to work.
It was great watching him work - the faint pencil outlines, the filling in of colours, the shading, the final touches - and being told that it would be his last Kenshin drawing then, for he had ran out of red ink. Just before putting down his signature, he asked for my name, and added a personal To neil. It could had been a tactic to make sure that I buy that piece, but I found it a sweet gesture all the same.
And these are the drawings:
You noticed I have 2 drawings. Well, I felt bad that he had to throw away a draft just because I didn't like it, so I offered to buy the first drawing that caught my attention as well as the one he personalised for me. Still, I suppose the bad feeling wasn't a strong one, because I had the cheek to bargain with him and got both drawings for RM5.
But hey - I really treasure them! :)
A gracious reader provided the link to the artist's blog: http://nonameart.blogspot.com/