Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Voyeurs

Left alone, I pick another drink from a passing bearer and wander along the walls. I pause in front of a portrait, an old woman beggar crouching beneath a lamp-post, hugging herself so fiercely that it must be really cold there, when I suddenly sense her at my elbow. ‘Tch, I wonder why people here find this beautiful’, she sighs.

I try to remain silent for some time; to not take the bite. I take long sips of whatever it is.

‘Because it is not our reality. We can see it, taste it but escape it any time we want. With a blink.’

She looks at me with a half open mouth, the tongue rolled to one side and pressed against the rim of the champagne glass tipping against her cheek, the palm of the other hand cradling the elbow of the arm raising the glass. She smiles and takes a sip. ‘Someone just told me it’s the pain which makes it beautiful.’

‘The horrible.’

‘The horrible?’, she enunciates slowly.

‘Yes. The horrible. The biting cold, the hunger pang. We think it’s beautiful because its pain has the keen sting of beauty and is nothing like our lumpy misery. If you ask that woman, once she has a warm house and a meal, she would prefer a poster of fat white babies with cotton-puff cheeks coochy-coo on the walls. She thinks that’s the reality which belongs here. But we don’t call it art here. We call it kitsch. No provenance, you see. And its joy, its melodrama is so so crude. So whole.’

Her mask slips for a moment and she blinks and frowns: she’s buzzed too. ‘So you think this is not art?’

‘Oh this is art. You know what Baudelaire called art? Prostitution. She’s the whore and the artist the pimp.’

‘Then that makes us the clients’, she bends her head a little forward in mock conspiracy.

‘No’, I slowly bend mine and whisper as I look askance at Ajay, ‘he’s the client. We are just voyeurs.’

‘Are you sure?’, her forehead tips against mine and her incisors flash white. ‘Or are you that whore’s secret lover who can’t bear to see her fucked like this?’

3 comments:

gayatri said...

Sounds like good prose from a propspective short-stories book. Why dont u write one?

whatever said...

Reminiscent of Kundera...Voyeurism, as a theme, is really intriguing and like most intriguing themes, remains underexplored

Bland Spice said...

that's the idea, G. :)

i will have to read up kundera and ruskin bond now, methinks. i keep procrastinating.