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Most of my summer holidays were spent with my grandparents, and a dozen cousins in a small village called Abhepuri, near Wai, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the Western Ghats.
These days Wai has become a popular hub for shooting rural scenes of India in the films because of the natural and picturesque settings of the villages which have still managed to stay away from the urbanization. Our summer plans were quiet standard. Swimming in wells, climbing mango trees, crushing paddy fields, picking black berries (Karvande), which grow on thorny shrubs in the mountains and so on. I always carried my sketchbook wherever I went and my cousins would lineup to take turns to get their portraits sketched from me. Not to mention, I never left any opportunity to ask for big favors in return.

We used to have a domestic helper there, whom we called ‘Appa’. Appa was like a jack of all trades (well he also mastered few things like looking after farms and the house).

I HATED APPA! In fact all children hated Appa.

He always interrupted and stopped us from doing things. He used to manage us and in fact even punished us sometimes. Appa was a young lanky lad when I first saw him, sincere honest and very energetic and sharp. He always had some interesting tasks at his hand and I used to find him very intriguing. One day I would see him with a couple of Jack fruits on his shoulders and other day would find him covered under a jute sack as he carried a honeycomb from the mango tree with some bees still following him.

Cock-a-doodle_Tushar Sabale_blog

One fine summer day there was a buzz that a Big Rooster had fallen in the community well. Nobody knew whom it belonged to, but many came to see it, as it struggled to hold itself on a tiny piece of rock at the bottom. The well had no steps, so no one could dare to jump into, and then it was just a Rooster. Who would risk their life for it? Some notorious kids had started to throw pebbles scaring him and making it aggressive at the same time. After few hours, the show was finally over as nobody knew what to do with it and everybody parted their ways.

Later that evening, I saw Appa rushing home with something under his blanket. I was very curious and knew he was hiding something from us. It kept bothering me but not for long. A house with a dozen kids, how could a secret remain one. Appa had climbed the well and rescued the Rooster. Well he did rescue it technically but that evening we were served chicken soup and rice for dinner. Whatever that meant, it was the best chicken soup I had ever had.

I still clearly remember seeing the Rooster inside the well, the colours, the aggression and its striking poses. It was definitely one handsome Rooster that left a kind of impact on me. The mystery surrounding it still bothers me occasionally. It’s been so long now and since then I have painted few roosters but there’s one that always reminds me of that Rooster in the well, and its Cock-a-doodle-doo that had a strange message in it.

Seen here is ‘Cock-a-Doodle’ my painting made in Oils on Canvas using palette knives. Cock-a-Doodle is a part of ‘Sum of Impressions’, my Solo Art Exhibition at London starting 23 July 2013 up to 26 July 2013.