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Milind’s exhibition was a grand success. Art lovers, collectors, critics and agents were going gaga over his brand new painting. It depicted a young girl on a chair, with her hands tied in front of her. He had named the painting ‘The Struggle is Almost Over’

What was unique was the angle. It showed the girl from above. When someone asked why he decided not to paint her face, Milind had replied ‘This girl! You wouldn’t have been able to look into her eyes. It is better this way. What might have been in her eyes is now up to your imagination.’

There were words like enigmatic, pensive and particularly striking being thrown about by the motley group of people who had come to the exhibition. An obese critic, fueled up on hors d’oeuvres, caviar, champagne and craziness, even went to the extent of calling it recherché.

A private collector from Kuwait had offered $100,000 on the spot. A couple of slimy agents suggested that they could fetch better sums than that. A representative from a Non-profit organization working towards the prevention of abuse of women enquired if Milind would be kind enough to donate the painting for a charity auction that would generate much needed funds to power their mission.

Overwhelmed by the reception and response, Milind slipped out of the gallery for a smoke. His friend and agent Niranjan found him leaning on a lamp post with his eyes closed. A smile was dangling at the corner of his lips even as cigarette smoke escaped slowly from his throat.

“Milind, just spoke to Ketaki Mishra. She’s representing AYC Corp. They are ready to pay $250,000. What say?”

“I think if we throw a bit of attitude we can easily get half a mil, Niranjan.”

“For an artist, you are one hell of a business man Milind. Let me go in and negotiate further”, they exchanged smiles.

At that moment a gaunt looking girl dressed in shabby clothes approached him. She had a baby in her hands.

“Sir, my baby is unwell. I have to take her to the hospital. Please give me my payment.”

Milind looked at her irritably. “Look, I’ve already given you thousand rupees. How much more do you need?”

Her eyes glistened, “Please give me thousand more, Sir.”

Milind pulled his wallet out and relieved a five hundred rupee note from it. He shoved it into the girl’s hands, “That’s all that I have got. Now, leave. Don’t come back again. You were such a poor model as such.”

Niranjan came running back, “Milind, it’s a done deal. $475,000. Happy?”

The girl had a sad smile on her face as she left. Milind was not able to meet her eyes.

Prompt: MindLove Misery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge #175

Exchange Rate: 1 USD = 65 Indian Rupees

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