Arranged Love

By: Parul A. Mittal
For my Arranged Love, Alok

A Prospective Groom

‘Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?’ The Guerrilla Girls poster, showing the naked back of a girl wearing a Gorilla mask, said in bold, black lettering. It was designed by a group of radical feminist artists after conducting a ‘weenie count’ at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. They had found that less than 5 per cent of the artists in the Met’s modern art sections were women, yet 85 per cent of the nude artworks were female. Jay had gifted me the poster on our first ‘going out together’ anniversary, last month. I had loved its outrageous, raunchy humour, and wanting to make my contribution to the world of art, I had made Jay promise that he would model nude for me.

I had been waiting for the right opportunity to start the painting. So when Neetu, my roommate, told me that she was going to spend the whole Sunday out, canoeing with her boyfriend, I had persuaded Jay to forgo his plans of watching the football match on TV and deliver on his promise. Not that Neetu would mind having a naked guy in her neighbouring room. It’s just that she and her boyfriend were way too noisy and I needed some quiet time to be able to concentrate.

So there he was, sitting naked on my queen-sized bed, patiently posing for the last two hours. I stared at the contours of his tall, athletic body. The broad and powerful chest, the bronzed sinewy arms, the thin line of golden brown hair running from his chest down to his navel that drew my eye towards his well-toned abs and his lean hips. Having inherited the best of physical features from his Indian mom and American dad, Jayant Guy was as handsome and delectable as it gets. I smiled, as I forced myself not to get aroused by his maleness and focused on the job at hand.

‘Don’t tell me it’s more fun to look at?’ he said, catching a glimpse of naughtiness in my smile.

‘It certainly looks unused,’ I replied, trying to pull his leg.

‘Why don’t you fix it?’ came his quick, playful response.

‘Am trying,’ I chuckled as I applied a thick dab of paint on the brush and applied it on the canvas with harder strokes. ‘One at a time,’ I said teasingly, without looking up at him, as I added another layer of skin-tone to fix the one in the painting.

‘Can we take a break? My back is hurting from staying still in one position for so long!’

‘You need some action, huh?’ I said, as I stepped back to look at the canvas.

I felt happy with what I saw. We had made good progress today. I raised my hand above the canvas and gave him a thumbs up.

I heard the faint clicking sound of his strained muscles as he got up from my bed and stretched his arms. Next instant, he was grabbing me by my waist.

‘One would say I deserve a reward after two hours of modelling nude for you.’ I heard him say, his voice slightly muffled, as he kissed my ear lobe.

‘I would say I deserve a beer,’ I said, wriggling out of his grip and heading straight to the kitchen.

Usually painting has a meditative effect on me, but today I felt tired. This was my first experience with painting a nude model, and you have to believe me when I say that it’s an entirely different ball game from painting fruits on a table. In case you are more of a doer than a listener, try looking at your irresistibly attractive naked boyfriend or girlfriend from a 5-feet distance for over an hour. Okay, we all agree it’s provoking. Now try focusing on the body’s curves and slopes, observe the shadow and the reflection of light on the skin, all the while controlling that excitement. Exhausting, huh? I guess professional artists get used to looking at naked human bodies as just other works of art. But for me, painting was a passion and Jay was rather good-looking.

‘To the Guerrilla Girls!’ I said, raising a toast with my beer can, in the direction of the poster that hung over my bed.

‘As we attempt to increase the count of female artists and naked male artworks,’ toasted Jay, tipping his healthy apple against my calorie-filled can.

Jay had got back into his knickers, so I opened the window shades and allowed the sunlight to fill my room with its own colours and hues. Sitting side by side on the floor rug, we stared outside, admiring the onset of fall colours. The array of two-storeyed, white-coloured apartments with wooden sloping roofs, offered a picturesque contrast to the multitude of colours splashed on the trees around. I noticed the ducks swimming in the pond next to the community centre. Come winter and the pond would transform into an ice-skating rink for the neighbourhood kids. The whole place would undergo bleaching, exchanging its colourful youth for white, serene maturity.

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