I was returning from a day of hectic shooting with my still camera. Seeing the park with lush greens and empty benches, I decided to enter and sit down. I did not notice the three women who sat on a bench right opposite me. As I sat down, I opened my camera case and switched on the camera to look at the pictures I had taken through the day. Then a feeling in the air that I was being watched distracted me.
I looked up and saw the three women sitting on the opposite bench. I could not tell whether they were looking at me, or being curious about the camera, looking at it. They were smiling a sweet timeless and purposeless smile like a tank overflowing. They were not smiling in unison but each woman smiled by herself. The smile on each face had the infection that only innocence can spread, and I was going to catch the bug, I realized with considerable consternation. I pretended to look away and yet I was so fascinated by the unarmed and disarming smile that I decided to look at them and take stock.
They were all past middle age. Neither slim nor portly, they were with handsome faces, which must have been quite attractive on the right side of youth with the gloss that comes from the hormones that well up at that age. Their looks were rather rustic and lacked the civic charm of the dwellers of big cities. I surmised that they were probably without much education, again from the simplicity of their looks, which cannot be faked after education. Their faces were unlined, a sign of not having to bear any burden. In the time gone by, they must have borne and tended to their children well and made their husbands happy. Their duties over, they were now free to be by themselves or with their friends, with whom to be when one is happy. They were at that stage of life when all it matters to a woman is to be a woman and be among her kind; when men do no more matter, to sum it up.
And, that puzzled me as they looked at me with their smiling faces. Why then look at a man and smile?
As I puzzled over this question still looking at them with my camera in my hand, one of the women rose and walked up to me. Her gait was rustic. She swayed as she advanced and I felt some unease. I was not ready for a smiling middle-aged woman walking up to me in a park with a wide unembarrassed smile.
She came up to me and asked in a rustic tone, “Son! We have been smiling for such a long time. When are you going to take our picture?”
Indroneer / 17.01.2014
(Acknowledgement: “Three Women” by Fernand Leger http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/fernand-leger/three-women-1921)