There is nothing more inspiring than to occasionally stand face to face with a proud mother of not one, but two daughters.

Farzana Shahab is one such mother. Beautiful to behold, and very talented, Farzana is amazing for having passed on so much of her charm and goodness to her daughters. She admits to having learnt this kind of gracious give and take in life from Anjum, her late mother who has left Farzana everything she had experienced in life, including great pride in being just woman.

It is her mother who inspired Farzana to first express herself in painting while daughters Anam and Saharish were allowed to mature into lovers of literature and poetry irrespective of the fact that today both earn a living as bureaucrats.

At a solo painting exhibition hosted by Farzana recently, Anam introduced her mother to a houseful of guests at a Lucknow gallery with a poem, comparing her tenderness to a spring bud and her majesty to the mountain:

Shades of her peeping through the pages of life
Tender as a blooming spring bud,
Majestic like the mountains,
With panache and poise
Rising above the noise
Of diurnal routines, the clanking of dishes,The hiss of a cooker, the yells and quarrels of her children,
The rustling of papers in morosely long files,
The constant pleas and the spinning of her world
She manages to reign, and what is more she does it with a smile.
She does not fight back tears,
They ebb and flow, like undulating waves
Allowing her to weather the harshest of storms
She casts a spell on all her fears
Till they dissipate, only to return again.
Chained and free, tormented and rapturous all at once
Like a chiaroscuro, the light and the shade enhance her enigma.
She treads on the happy days bright as sunshine
And wears a garb of patience on days dreary and long
She chooses to float rather than down, and what is more she does it with a song.

Anam is a poet by passion and by profession policy advisor at the treasury department of the United Kingdom government. She is the author of a book of poems published recently and extremely appreciative of the women in her household, an art that she has picked up from her mother.

“I am over awed by women. I am over awed by the multiple roles women perform every day. I grew up inspired by my mother and now my daughters make me so proud,” adds Farzana who is able to better express her journey as woman on canvas, and in colours.

Farzana is a self taught painter who picked up the brush just about half a decade ago. Passionate about art for long, visual arts became a priority in her life on the death of her mother in 2009, and after her daughters were older.

The empty canvas served as a perfect medium to explore her inner world, resulting in a fade in and fade out effect that is often superimposed with lines and forms in bold and daring colours. Her focus on the female figure is fabulous as figures and shapes are shown to flutter in different directions in a desperate flight, as if towards freedom.

Her love for nature makes her play around with different seasons and to look at the landscape afresh. The peacock series seems to suggest a metamorphosis from the animal species to the human race and the essential evolution from physical beauty to a beautiful mind and the even more elusive idea of soul.

“Farzana has evolved a very personal language of symbols and visual forms to find herself and to fantasise about the world around her. It is quite amazing to see such a level of proficiency without any professional guidance. It makes me believe that there is an artist in every human being. We only have to nurture the artist in us. Farzana also proves that there is no time or age limit to begin doing that...,” concludes Professor Jai Krishna Agarwal, former principal and dean of the University of Lucknow College of Arts and Crafts at a time when it is absolutely essential that all women and all girl children in this country be treated with much more love, respect and pride by all of us.