Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Sudha had told her about the painting thing. Sheila sat at the steps of the Ganpati temple with flowers in her hand, ready to be offered. She got up and entered the temple, feeling the divinity immensely around her. But today, her prayers were interspersed due to what Sudha had told her in the morning. She had told her to meet the so-called Joshi Sir in The Arts School, the painting man, at least once.

She left her prayers halfway. It was best to pray only when your mind was clear of every clutter of the soul. Sheila decided she would meet the man. Married to an alcoholic husband, who sat in a corner of the house, drinking and then puking, this was the best way out. She needed money desperately, to eke out a living.

The peon ushered her into the room. ‘The painting man’ smiled at her.
“Sudha has sent you, if I believe.”
“Yes, she told me about this thing in the morning.”
“So can we get started?”
“Sir, can I know what kind of work exactly is this? What do I have to do, though I have a faint notion from Sudha’s words.”
“Seven days alternatively you will have to come here, strip and I will paint you. I will tell you what postures I want. You sit/stand accordingly. For every painting you get 300 bucks. And the timings will depend on when I finish painting you.”
“That’s something called as nude paintings. So Sheila, give me your word so that I can start my work.”
“Yes sir, I’ll come from tomorrow.”

As she walked out, her mind wasn’t clear of exactly what she had done. What would she tell her husband? That she was supposed to pose naked in front of a man, who would then paint her? Would he believe that any man who saw a woman, bare in front of him, would only restrict himself ‘to paint’ her? Would he believe, that the painting man was harmless? She then understood that these were the questions, not only her husband would ask her, but she was asking this to herself. Was it safe?

That night she felt claustrophobic. She needed some air to vent out her fears, her reservations. She went outside and sat on the stairs of her chawl. Sleep was as distant as the moon. Apprehension had filled her to the core…

“Why aren’t you ready yet?”, the painting man asked, with a slight presence of irritation in his tone.
“Am I supposed to strip all of my garments?”, she asked in a disapproving sort of way, even thought she knew, that she was supposed to. She did.
“Ok now, lie down on the support of you elbow, facing me. And be still.”

She did what she was asked to, becoming aware of her unclothed body, in the presence of a man.

She was loving each and every moment of what she was doing. The painting man was amazing. The first time she had seen herself on the canvass, she couldn’t believe that it was her body, that was replicated with human hands on a mere piece of paper. How had she NOT known, in all of her 27 years that she was so beautiful?

Mr.Joshi had made her look like a princess. The second day he had asked her to cover her breasts with her hands, and sit in crossed leg position for a particular posture. Why had he asked to do that when the same can be done by wearing clothes. But when he saw the portrait she knew. He had added a sensuality to the portrait. There was a certain nudity that wasn’t vulgar, but was simply aesthetic. What it revealed about her was a woman enjoying her body, the beautiful structure of it and experiencing the pleasures of touching and sensing herself…she understood looks didn’t matter…

Initially it was cumbersome for her to bear the gaze of the man on her body, but slowly she began enjoying it. She loved the way the man put the end of the brush in his mouth and viewed her body with an intense interest. Her husband had never did that. Never made her felt that she was beautiful. But here he was, the man, totally unknown to her making her feel special.

Sometimes he would say, “beautiful posture”, “excellent”, “you were beautiful today, look”….and she would feel a surge of hormones..bliss..happiness.

“No, Sheila I can’t. Here’s your money.”
“Sir, please. I need money. I will pose for you for many hours without complaining. Please take me in once again.” She prodded the door trying to come inside the room.

She knew her ‘posing period’ had ended. But she wanted money. What was she hiding from herself? Did she need the money, or did she need him?

“I need a different muse every time Sudha. Now go” he slammed the door.

She felt lifeless. New muse? Did he mean he painted many women like he had painted her? Wasn’t she special? Hadn’t he said she was beautiful? Hadn’t he ‘seen’ her?

Her existence came back to nil once again. The fifteen days she had spent…. Now who would make her happy? Who would make her jump with bliss again? Who would paint her again? Was there any other painting man?



At June 3, 2008 at 5:31 PM , Blogger Macadamia The Nut said...

I really don't know what to comment Manisha. The usual words wont work here. Fist I thought I'll say "amazing post".. but I feel more than that.

At June 3, 2008 at 5:33 PM , Blogger Macadamia The Nut said...

P.S. Glad you're back!! Kept coming back for more but you were missing for so long :(

At June 4, 2008 at 2:06 AM , Blogger Alok said...

Brilliant, man!
Awesome. Engrossing, and intuitively satisfying.

The character constructions were very realistic (though in the beginning I thought, "Oh no! not another story on what women have to sacrifice in order to survive."), especially that of the protagonist.

Your language is as usual very skillful, though somehow I didn't like the first paragraph. But I loved the last paras!

And what about her husband's knowledge of the events? You have mentioned her getting anxious about it in the beginning. Maybe it's irrelevant.


At June 4, 2008 at 10:00 PM , Blogger manisha said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At June 4, 2008 at 10:02 PM , Blogger manisha said...

@Mac-wow, u lways praise me!!! :) m so happy....yeah me 2 glad m bak...was traveling re!!! so my absence...vaise dat cake lukd realy delicious, cuddnt coment dat day!!!

@Alok: oh, u cud have expected dat alok, actually while drafting it i had also mentioned dat d husband beats her every night, but then i thought wid al d presence of bruises, y wil ne 1 paint her?? n dis tym i decided keepin my feminist side at bay.

d story ws already so big, i thot no 1 wud hv d patience to read it, so didnt mention bout him. neways he s drunkard:P he wont care.

nd hearty thnx for evry word of urs. i was quite literally jumpin wid joy :)

At June 4, 2008 at 10:51 PM , Blogger nefariousoutlook said...

WOW!!! hats off lady!! simple and wonderful!! read your previous posts as wekll! keep it going gal!! will surely keep visiting :)

and thanks for dropping by

At June 5, 2008 at 12:10 AM , Blogger τ ħ€ ĐάЎđяёάmёя said...

Wat a wonderful piece of work...u portrayed everything so wonderful..that I myself felt the pain of her...

wonderful..simply great..

btw thx for droppin by...and do keep me graced like this often..

At June 5, 2008 at 2:49 AM , Blogger Arun Sundar said...

Hey, good imagination!

But I guess you have interchanged the names sudha and sheila in a couple of instances..

At June 5, 2008 at 3:22 PM , Blogger manisha said...

@nefarious..thnx a lot!!!!

@the day dreamer...thnk u..*bows*

@arun..oops thnx for teling me...i ll change it!!

At June 5, 2008 at 11:55 PM , Blogger ÕHARINIÕ said...

i swear i dont know how u do it. at first i didnt want to read it cos it was so long...but now i wish it was longer. truely.

btw my blogs updated. thanks for chkin for updates tho. n i really like ur temp too.. chk out my blog asap.. ur opinion really counts :p

At June 6, 2008 at 12:16 AM , Blogger DEVENDRA said...


At June 6, 2008 at 1:21 PM , Blogger ♥bμşγ-ŵŗϊŧēŕ♥ said...

WOW!! your creativity quotient is sky high. amazingly well worded. SO engrossing, had me hooked major.

cheers! :)

btw, another story from snapshots is up..:)

At June 7, 2008 at 2:10 PM , Blogger Ab said...

hey that was simply beautiful.. th opening was pretty ordinary... but then the story was anything but that...
i wonder where you capture these emotions from!

At June 7, 2008 at 6:13 PM , Blogger rahman said...

When the soul craves for that longing; and the heart aches to be loved;
When the mind races forth without thinking; and lust encompasses from within.

That is when the self should ask..
"Was is worth, that for which I have thrown away all else..."

Nice story :)

At June 8, 2008 at 2:48 AM , Blogger Sujoy Bhattacharjee said...

Nice sensitivity, the "other" view....it is a must read for people who make a hue and cry over nude paintings. Reading this reminded me of something else too. Read this here.

At June 8, 2008 at 12:43 PM , Blogger Nitu said...

Wow..simply brilliant and engrossing..
keep penning.

At June 9, 2008 at 12:40 AM , Blogger Winnie the poohi said...


Girl you are a gem!!

At June 9, 2008 at 3:36 PM , Blogger Standbymind said...

An amazing piece.
Has to be amongst ur best!


At June 10, 2008 at 12:06 AM , Blogger Quaintzy Patchez said...

this was real awesome! :D

keep writin gal :)

At June 10, 2008 at 12:42 PM , Blogger MAN IN PAINTING said...

Very good story.
excellent writing.i am going to read all the posts..
me too blog
do visit.

At June 11, 2008 at 1:49 AM , Blogger Akshay said...

This story brings out so many emotions and traits (of the protagonist) and is truly a masterpiece...I was totally engrossed….the philosophy of her feeling almost resentful at the end of the story is spectacular....

At June 11, 2008 at 9:16 PM , Blogger debasish.. said...

B'ful !
trust me... its a gr8 post.
The woman, the way u protrayed her was very real n touchy.

At June 11, 2008 at 10:28 PM , Blogger Matangi Mawley said...

tht was gr8! :)
keep posting! :)

At June 12, 2008 at 5:03 PM , Blogger Admiral Fagin said...

Simple and elegant

At June 13, 2008 at 10:19 PM , Blogger ranjana said...

amazing post...i liked the way the protagonist felt wanted and attractive by a man ...who didn't even have the slightest inclination to touch her and the way she realized the beauty of her body

At June 15, 2008 at 8:56 AM , Blogger shamanth said...

very impressive.
i didnt realise how the story grows upon u till the very last sentence.
it feels like its written in such a simple and relaxed state of mind.
loved it!!

also... how did u stumble upon my page. thx for reading n commenting btw.

At June 23, 2008 at 1:12 PM , Blogger Scribblers Inc said...

killer...simple yet eclectic!!

Scribblers Inc.

At June 29, 2008 at 4:44 PM , Blogger Sujoy Bhattacharjee said...

New posts please....

At July 9, 2008 at 3:00 PM , Blogger abha said...

i thoroughly loved it till the end.but it could have been better at the end...was looking for more words there.
anyways a good post!

At July 16, 2008 at 12:04 PM , Blogger zahid said...

Manisha - I believe public praise is open disgrace.

I dont wish to write anything else.
I know u understood !!!

Lots of love and admiration

At July 7, 2009 at 12:03 AM , Blogger As the Mind Meanders said...

Can I write brilliant every time I read something that you write and get away with it... You leave with no choice mate... And I am not apple polishing here...

If only I had half your talent mate...

What was the thought process behind the story... what inspired this...


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