PS: Venus Serenus

She steps out of the frame

Like Botticelli's venus from the giant scallop shell:

But, of course, she's fully clad.

She walks down two steps from the stage

Of the college auditorium.

Her silk sari unfreezes from its upturned swish

As she descends, right foot forward,

Stretched to make contact with the lower step.

The left foot, except for the high-heel of her sandal,

Remains hidden in the folds of the sari.

Her right hand mirrors the graceful arch of her foot,

Holding her sari up with a handkerchiefed fist,

One glass bangle has slid on to her wrist,

While the others still cluster on a smooth, tapering, forearm.

In the other hand she holds a placard,

With "89" printed in large figures on it.

Her neck is bent forward, but the eyes look sideways and up,

As if askance at me.

The expression on the face is of uncomfortable puzzlement.

Behind are three girls in bell-bottoms looking somewhere ahead.

This picture of hers, circa 1977,

Turns me on the most,

Though I hadn't even met her then.

The occasion:  a mandatory fresher's parade

On the last day of ragging in Lady Irwin College.


She's already coming down to join the audience

When I pull her out of the photograph.

How safe I have been so far,

The ultimate voyeur,

Watching her in complete security and immunity.

How I imagine making love to her at seventeen,

Mischievously thinking to myself,

That all of her is mine--past, present, and future.

The black blouse is tight over her firm breasts.

The nipples point upwards, and I see that her bust

Is not even fully formed yet.

The face radiates innocence;

Like Shakuntala in the hermitage,

She has been touched by no man.

As I crush her small hand in mine,

She utters a cry of surprise and pain:

"Who are you?" she screams, "Let me go...."

She wrenches herself from my grasp

And struggles back into the photograph again.

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  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape