Today there appeared this huge hoarding right in front of the YMCA. She has one of the loveliest faces I have ever seen. Even in this soft morning when only a few pass by on these streets, it would be odd for an old man like me to gawk at a pretty girl's picture. The line - 'Daughters are totally worth it' , struck a painful note somewhere inside. Long ago I used to fantasize being the father of a pretty, intelligent, artistic daughter, but fate had it otherwise.
As one grows older, one is aware of the increasing number of attractive women all around. I am interested in beautiful, intelligent and sexually attractive women like any other man, but in recent years, I have noticed that by and large, I look at young girls in the age group of say 17- 23 with a queer mixture of love and affection, not lustily, but quite aware of the sexuality of the young women in full bloom.
And young ladies of the said group abound. They flutter around me like butterflies. They swoop down from the skies at me, pass me swiftly, leaving the fragrance of their beauty and youth. They are like young does, jumping and hopping and kicking up dust. I see them, on their way to schools and colleges or offices, in buses and trains, in the streets and beaches. Their gaiety is infectious. Beauty is all around me and I am enchanted by it.
I am typing this sitting in a train to Trivandrum, my weekly commuting to home. Facing me sit two of the above kind. I watch them openly and I can sense this kindly smile on my face as I observe every little thing they do - munching Lays, talking over the mobile, excited gestures and giggles, the way their eyes dart. I also notice the soft hair on their forearms, glinting in the sunlight. I admire the gentle swell of the breasts, the pale skin and the beautifully shaped neck. Their earlobes are soft and pink, their fingers long and graceful, with a life of their own, a language of their own. The girls share the songs of a single mobile phone, plugging one earphone to each. I eavesdrop but can't make much sense of their conversation.
Until recently, there were four young girls in my office. All of them in their early 20s, fresh graduates/ PGs, excited at their first jobs and thrilled to be independent. Joined the bank in the space of last one year, they offered a hilarious contradiction with us, 4 middle-aged, gray- haired men. To us, they were like our daughters. We loved to teach them the rudiments of banking practice, teased them, shared their concerns, hopes and happiness, reassured them if they were in a flutter. 3 of them stayed at a local working women's hostel, one commuted from Cherthala, about 20 kms from Alleppey. One Monday, back from home I gave them a bottle of P's tomato pickle and how they loved it!
But within the span of last couple of weeks two of them were transferred to their home towns. Waving goodbye, I knew it was unlikely that I would ever meet them again. They were likely to settle down and get married, go for promotion and lead their lives. Who were I, this man who had passed through their lives for a brief one year? I remember those old officers and peons in Chidambaram, way back in 1980. Very likely they are dead and gone and what had been them, to me? Except figures, faint in my private memories? So too, I shall pass.
We don't know much about each other - other than about the immediate family, where we live, etc. In spite of the fact that we spend every day together, from morning to evening, we hardly know anything about our personal problems, other than a very occasional mention of something.
At the railway station today afternoon, N, one of the four, came up to me and asked - 'Sir, is there any truth in astrology?' N confided in me that she wanted to marry someone but her family was against it. She was miserable and then went to an astrologer who said there was some Dosham and according to the stars, the proposed marriage would not succeed. She looked all twisted and about to break down. 'Pappa and Amma are against it, so is my sister I hate her now she used to support me'. So I tell her gently to have confidence in herself, discuss the matter with her fiancé, listen to the objections of her parents and convince them. I tell her, no astrology is not true or anything don't BELIEVE in it, but sometimes it is a salve for wounds, sometime it offers hope when nothing else can, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't, but the main thing is to have conviction in oneself - it sounds so hollow even to me. If one knew oneself, one wouldn't need the crutches.
Perhaps it is the 'paternal instinct', perhaps it is the diminishing libido, perhaps it is the onset of 'andropause' - I am feeling so fatherly to all young girls. Or is it because of the realization that I would be interesting to girls of that age only as a father figure?
As the train slows down at Trivandrum, standing near the exit, I glance at the mirror above the wash basin. I am amused. I nearly burst out laughing because what I see is the profile of a man who could be in his mid-60s. But, no Sir, no ridicule. I am happy being what I am. I am proud that I don't pretend to be what I am not. whatyouseeiswhatyouget. I think that is quite an attractive feature.
**************** Balachandran V, Trivandrum 22-10-2012
This is a poem I wrote a few years ago.
Sometimes, in the corner of my eye,
I see a shadow flitting by.
A little girl in ponytail,
A pinafore hangs in the sun to dry.
Raindrops on petals, roses so pink,
A pair of hands cover my eyes.
A drop of water drips from the still wet hair,
My daughter asks me to tell her name.
The tinkle of your anklets,
The tingle of your laughter,
The scent of love in your touch,
My fingers grope for your little face.
Who are you, my unborn child, my unsung song,
You with the soft curls that tickle my ears?
Why did you chose to remain in my heart,
Tease me not with your hide& seek.
Sunlight slants- evening is here
Doors are open, I wait for thee.
Come, let the brilliance of lightGlow your hair and warm my heart.