The enormity of the loss may take some time to sink in, but it’s now clear that MF Husain will no more remain Indian. “It’s all over. I’ve just completed the final formalities,” said the artist to an anguished Indian fan at the immigration department in Qatar’s capital, Doha.
As the barefooted Husain sat with his paintbrush-shaped walking stick among the crowd looking at the ticking counter numbers, the sense of resignation in the 95-year-old was hard to miss.
“Could an apology have helped sort out things?” he was asked.
“How long can I wait? It’s been 12 years, and even the Supreme Court has given the judgment,’’ he answered. But he clarified that the India connection was too strong to be over. “My artwork is still based on India and it flows through me and I shall still continue to work on it,” he said.
Husain was forced into exile in 2006 after some fundamentalist outfits launched a virulent attack on him for his portrayal of Hindu deities in the nude. His paintings were vandalised and, worse, nearly 900 cases were filed against him. With no sincere help coming from the government to protect him, he left for Dubai.
As his number approached, Husain, dragging his weary legs, moved from the second row to the first. He then pulled out a small book from his pocket and started reading it. It was the Quran. He was probably praying for last-minute divine intervention.
An aide then walked up to him with some documents and once the maestro signed them, it was all over.
As he dragged himself out of he office to a waiting car, the fan could not help mutter, “Sir, we love you.”
“I know son, there are a lot of people out there who love me, but…,” Husain said and moved into the car.
The fan sighed. The next artwork the painter does will not be from the ‘Picasso of India’.