Jesus, Judas and the model!
Stories, movies, plays, etc usually have unexpected turns and twists to keep the pot boiling and hence leave the audience captivated. Of the several stories that I was lucky to have my hands on, this particular small story etches a mark. Read on. I am just giving the gist of the plot in my own words.
Ernesto: A Suave and gracious young boy who models for young Jesus.
Garibaldi: A nefarious lowlife and a ghastly looking man who typifies Judas and serves as a model for Judas.
Michelangelo, one of the legendary painters that history has seen, lived in a cozy little city in Italy. He is invited by the high priest of Florence, Italy, who wants Michelangelo to embellish the inner walls of the church with his paintings depicting the life of Jesus.
Michelangelo fervently searches for a quintessential muse, an apt representation to portray young Jesus. He keeps moving from place to place in his quest to try and find a perfect model. One afternoon while on a perfunctory recce in a city called Pisa, he is passing by a street where street urchins are playing. There he sees a young boy of around 12 years, named Ernesto, whose innocence radiated an unusual charm. The boy was very supple, had a graceful gait and an uncommonly beautiful face. Jesus personified, Michael thought to himself. In the ensuing events, he gets the boy to the church and completes paintings depicting the childhood of Jesus. He sufficiently rewards Ernesto during the tenure and sends him home with handsome remuneration. Ernesto and Michelangelo part ways and get along with what life throws at them.
Of the many stories I have come across, this story touched me greatly. A small one pager which featured in a new paper transpired to a full novel concocted beautifully in Kannada, one among the many Indian Languages. The author was an avid bodybuilder by name K.V. Iyer hailing from Bangalore a southern state of India. There are perhaps many versions of this story and the characters are kept anonymous, but Iyer has interestingly woven the characters. The milieu of the plot is set around the 15th century in Italy.
Years flow by and as it happens, Michelangelo has yet to complete the last of the paintings depicting the last years of Jesus. Aging Michael is in a desperate search for a man who can be a model to represent evil Judas. Events turn by and fortuitously Michael bump against Garibaldi, a goriest looking, despicable and listless drunkard who is involved in a drunken brawl. He was the very picture of evil himself. At last, Michael had found his model for Judas in Garibaldi. Michael succeeds in getting Garibaldi out of the skirmish. Gently insinuating him, and with a lot of coaxing and bribery , he succeeds in persuading Garibaldi to agree to come with him in order to complete the paintings.
What is stunning is this seemingly simple story ends with an unexpected twist enough to give goosebumps to readers. This uncommon twist sets this story apart. The author has taken great care in capturing all the emotions which leave the reader riveted!
Michelangelo has got started with the unfinished paintings with Garibaldi. One evening Garibaldi has his sight fixed upon some of the old paintings of young Jesus. He kept staring at them with bloodshot eyes and tears had filled his eyes. It looked like Garibaldi was trying to recollect something from his lost memory. An alarmed Michael asks him what’s the matter, to which Garibaldi slowly looks at Michael and with a gentle tone asks him “uncle, do you not recognize me? I am Ernesto!!” and falls at Michelangelo’s feet sobbing.
The book has a detailed narrative on the vagaries which result in the transformation of Ernesto to Garibaldi, angel to demon, Jesus to Judas.
What a cruel irony of fate! The story ends with Garibaldi putting the blame on Michelangelo for his deplorable state and is killed when he stumbles and falls down from the elevated platform where he stood. I am not sure whether I have done justice for the story, but it is worth a try I guess!!