26 minutes - North Acton to St. Paul’s
12th January 2018

by Niyoshi Shah

Andi wanted to put his toe on a crescent. On its pointy edge, to be precise. It wouldn’t poke or tickle, he was sure; because, though the ends looked sharp – Andi knew – their sharpness was soft. Anyone who painted crescents would tell you that – and Andi loved painting crescents. He even had a blue, bow- shaped pillow and recently, Nana had gifted him a wind chime with smiling stars and a twinkling sliver.

Whether it was a black ruler with up and down buildings or a rocket with fat fire at its tail, Andi painted a crescent in all his pictures. He would carefully wash his brush in purple-green- that-looked- brown water.

Then, wipe it dry – even more carefully. Next: purple-green would go down the drain, a new cup would toddle to the table, and the brush would be dangled and dried once again. A clot of blue had spoiled his drawing once and ever since, Andi remembered to check the bristles before dipping them in white. Mrs. Sprightly had taught him to lower the nib just until its broadest part, and she had also taught him the word ‘crescent’. Now Andi used it everywhere.

Dripping paint had spoiled another painting. So, he always stroked the brush before starting. Tip to the paper, lightly at first. Then his hand would descend in a chubby curve, increasing its pressure as it moved towards the stomach of C, swelling up and finally, letting go. Just perfect, that slanting smile.

So, if you looked closely – like Andi did – the ends of a crescent were sharp but soft. Painted with a brush, not coloured with a pen. Though, it was strange that Andi wanted to place his toe there, and not touch it with his fingers. He would have held it, were he granted two wishes; but he worried. What if his grip was too tight, and the crescent crumbled to dust? No, no. Toe on tip was safer. Nana had also asked about the round moon, but Andi never liked it. It had dirty spots like the ones on Nana’s photo with his friend. He had tried to erase them, one afternoon, but they stubbornly remained. Not even getting lighter! Besides, Andi was sure the round moon was squishy, like fungus.

All this was three years ago, before he learned that crescents and round moons were one and the same thing. They only looked and felt different to us, depending on the day and where we were. The ball was a boomerang on some days, and the boomerang, a ball. And there was no way to confirm whether it felt like warm dust or fungus because we can’t hold the moon. Andi stopped painting then.

          Layout design by David McAllister