He was a Paragon of Painting!
Many people leave their milestones on this earthly journey and go to heaven. But what he left in this world was a miracle. Many doubt if he is one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Yes, Edmund Thomas Clint or the God’s Own Country’s God’s Own Child was a painting prodigy who lived a life as short as 2522 days but painted over 25000 vibrant and unique pictures.
A book on Clint by Kerala Tourism
M. T Joseph and Chinnamma Joseph welcomed their lone son on the 19th of May 1976. This Malayali couple was great fans of the veteran Hollywood actor and director Clint Eastwood and named their child after him. Raised in the city of Cochin, Clint adored the nature, culture and tradition of Kerala. People call the life of this painting magician a fairy tale!
Baby Clint loved pebbles, but his mother, Chinnamma, snatched those from him, worrying if the baby may swallow. One day, Chinnamma noticed Clint trying very hard to draw with the pebbles. So, she gave him a piece of chalk, and he happily started drawing some patterns on the floor. When the protagonist was only six months old, Chinnamma saw a perfect circle drawn by him on the floor. Watching Clint for a while, she saw the baby lying on his back and spinning so fast to draw a circle with his body length as the diameter. Each time the mother says this story, we can see the reflection of happiness and amusement in her eyes.
Clint was a voracious reader and a keen learner. By the age of 2, he could read and write Malayalam, and by 4, he mastered English. The paintings of Clint were so phenomenal and real. The experts wonder how a kid can be so professional that the talents and skills he possessed could only be earned by years of study and practise. Mr G Mohanan was a friend of M. T Joseph, and he was also an artist. It was Mr Mohanan who realized how brilliant Clint was. The artworks he made at their house walls fascinated Mohanan and asked Joseph to give him whatever he needed to paint. When his parents requested Mohanan to mentor him, the artist said he is so unqualified to teach the young prodigy, and art lies in each pulse of his heart. Though his parents wanted him to be a Picasso, Clint just wanted to be like his Mohanan uncle. His parents also said that all children of their locality and school gather around him every time he touches his painting brushes.
At 4, Clint won the title of his first competition. The next day, he took part in a watercolour competition, and all the participants were around 18 years old. That was the first time Clint used watercolour for painting. Chinnamma asked him if he would like to learn water colouring and then go to the competitions. But Clint was not ready to give up and painted confidently. When Chinnamma went to look for their son, what the mother saw was a crowd curiously gathered around him. The people could not believe their eyes as the painting of a 4-year-old won the gold that day. In short, Clint won all the competitions he took part in. His parents said that their home was not like the other houses with children. There was no screaming or crying, and the life of Clint was all about art. He never laughed loud or cried but always kept a warm smile. With a trembling voice, the father said there was no character like him ever lived in this world, and he will be the only one. His mother added that what he only wanted is to paint, and his paintings also spoke. Chinnamma remembers their son asking her to take care of his paintings and keep them in a “special” place. She replied that his children and grandchildren would do that for him. But the mother never knew that ultimately she was going to be the caretaker for all his pictures.
A month short of his 7th birthday, following kidney failure, the child prodigy passed away. Minutes before his death, he told his mother, “It’s nothing, Mamma, I might fall asleep now and not wake up when you call me. I am just sleeping. Don’t worry, Mamma. Please don’t cry.” He never woke up from that sleep.
At Clint’s art exhibitions, people queued up, shunning the sweltering heat of the sun to avail the chance to take part in the magic of Clint’s colours. Hundreds of exhibitions have been conducted in his home state of Kerala. And that introduced him to millions of this world. Hundreds of national and international articles about Clint and his parents have been published in different media.
After the death of Mr Joseph in 2019, Chinnamma is now alone. The memories of her son and his paintings keep her up. That helps her to move on. Every time she tries to find the silver lining in her clouds, the face of her beloved child and his paintings gives her the courage to hold up her life.
K K Akshaya