As an artist I always have this urge to make access of art to all people. But in the society, art is classified as an object of a financial class and community who can afford it. Four years back, my art was limited to galleries, restaurants and walls of wealthy people. I did live paintings in the restaurants, then again, It couldn’t quench the thirst for my passion. “Art for all” was seeded in my mind like anything else. One day, while I was getting out of my studio, a scene captured my attention. A butterfly hovering in the sky made its way to me. At that moment, I was carried away with what just happened. I had this amazing sensation; I thought to myself that the butterfly magically heard my hardship that I was going through to pursue my goal. Then and there, I had this personal transformation; I felt change inside me. My goal was similar; to spread happiness but path I choose was different. Then after, I started spreading love and the message of happiness not just in Nepal but also around the globe.
Butterflies are the symbol of transformation and I started imagining the transformed world alike them. Transform from poverty, hunger, civil war, political mishaps, insecurity, global warming and the list goes on. I used to put handmade butterflies in the different nooks and cranny of public places in the city of Kathmandu. On my second visit to the very place where I had left the butterflies, the butterflies would vanish. I asked myself, what am I doing? Where will this lead me? I am the only person who makes these, but there are countless by passers who can take them. Should I continue this? I started questing my passion with my intellect, but my heart said “Milan don’t you know butterflies do not stay at a place”? See people are responding, you should also respond to them instead of reacting. After that, it was butterflies, my passion and me. I can still recollect those fresh memories of going out on the streets alone at 3 in the morning to spread the message that butterflies fail to convey. For this, I also hired a ladder from people by depositing my mobile phone as collateral and paying every penny I had. Within no time, all my savings were used up and I stared asking money with my keens. 50, 200, 500……… How long will that last? Then, I made few visits to famed companies in the town with my proposal. Are you mad? You are wasting my time, you may please leave, and these were kind words they bestowed me with. You will go nowhere with this stupidity, were some of the reactions I got from the people I approached
Deep inside, I knew I was going to make this happen no matter what and how many denials I get. Then, my personal quest of “self searching journey” began. I went different parts of India talking to people, dogs, trees, leaves and what not. Every day I felt stronger, better and had sense of achievement. I stared nurturing positive attitude like never again. I began telling myself, the people who refused to fund me are not rich people, but are just “financially stable”, you should ignore them. One day, from an anonymous figure I got 500 USD in my account, requesting me to continue my passion. Then, one of my classmates popped up who would help me with a machine which would make my butterflies. Then my work started getting admiration from across the world and also from the organizations those refused to fund me. People started approaching me, requesting to print their names on the butterflies, associate with their banner in my campaigns, but I denied. In my struggle, I have been fortunate enough to travel many cities of Nepal and world with my butterflies. Lately, a world leading Airline Company approached, requesting me to put their trademark on the butterfly but then I again refused it. I did appreciate for their acknowledgement. Similarly, I saw BBA/BBM course-book under TU mentioning my work. But to tell you the truth, I never carried book in my life and I am grade 8 dropout because I couldn’t pass the exams.
At present, I have no “balance in bank” but I have “balance in life” and that makes me happy. (Milan Rai “The White Butterfly Man”, 31, Kathmandu)
Categories: People and Stories