Chauburji Once there was a grand house at the fag end of Queens Road, where it joins Ferozepur Road at Mozang Chungi. As one entered the leafy lane leading up to this house, one was immediately struck by the serenity of the environment. The feeling increased as the old Raj type structure came into view with its trademark 'golden shower tree profusely festooned with yellow flowers. This was the residence of Anna Molka, a queen amongst artists and painters. I first saw Anna, when she walked into our arts class at school and was immediately captivated by her towering personality. Robustly built, Mrs Ahmed as she was known to us then, filled the room with her presence, a phenomenon which became more complete when she addressed us in her quaint European accented Urdu. Little did I know then as to what influence this great woman would have on developing my understanding of form and beauty. As time went by, I moved into Annas family circle because of her younger daughter, who became my classmate and my father, who turned out to be an old friend of the family. The house with the 'golden shower tree, later immortalised in one of Annas paintings, was a piece from the pages of a colonial scrapbook, complete with a piano in one of the front rooms and a well kept circular lawn in front. My association with the family also stemmed from the facts that we lived a small distance apart on the same road and I shared the same birthday with her daughter. Anna went on to lay the foundations of the Fine Arts Department of the Punjab University Campus near Anarkali and became a national and worldwide legend, but she always found time to pass on her skills to her class at Cathedral School. Her style of doing so was not based on theory, but practical skill. She would ask us to sketch subjects, paint, do work in papier-mch, always ready to reprimand and correct erring students in her inimitable style. I have had the privilege of being rapped on the knuckles quite a few times for using the eraser while sketching objects. Much later, I took up a career, married and moved out of Lahore on assignment, but always maintained some form of contact with my mentor and her family. In the late 90s, I heard that Anna had badly hurt herself falling from the scaffolding she was standing on, while working on a mural in the National Arts Council. I drove to Lahore with my wife to visit the house on Queens Road and saw this perpetual dynamo, confined to a wheel chair, but with her spirit intact. We talked of old times and she regaled my wife with the stories of my misdemeanours as a student. She was wistful about the fact that she could no longer paint large canvases and had therefore resorted to doing miniatures. I could see that she missed standing before an easel and boldly applying oil paints using her favourite palette knife. Suddenly she took my hands and studied the palms as if reading a book and then she revealed a metaphysical quality kept hidden even from an intimate family friend such as me. She told me the route my life would take with its success and its failures and what she told me has so far amazingly come about. I returned to my work and then one day heard that Anna had passed away. To my everlasting regret, I could not attend her funeral due to professional commitments, but I am told that she was laid to rest with hundreds of her former students and colleagues around her, just the way she would have wanted it. I have however continued to maintain regular contact with Anna Molkas daughter and my classmate, who favours me with an invitation every time an event is organised to honour her mother. To me, however, the greatest privilege is to have known her on a personal level and to have had the honour of being her apprentice. I am told that rather belatedly, the National Art Gallery at Islamabad has honoured Anna with space, but the space that this unique woman occupies in the lives of her students, some of who are now themselves masters in the world of art, is unlimited. This column is but a small tribute to one of Lahores greatest assets and to the memory of an even greater artist who left lasting effects in the lives of all, who came in contact with her. The writer is a freelance columnist.