The Photographer
A. B. Singhal

T he raindrops flecked on the window, rhythmically, persistently, as I watched her carriage pull up outside my studio. Her driver, shielding her from the rain with his cape, escorted her to the front step. There was a knock on the door, followed by my trembling, sickened response, greeting her, leading her inside.

She never smiled, even as I took the photographs. Rather, she sat demurely, patiently, dutifully, while I toiled with so much. The fullness of her flesh, the genuine darkness of her hair, the richness of her eyes, all playing with my imagination, forcing an intense yearning within me. She mentioned a European who'd recently published a mathematical profundity, E=MC2. I grinned and nodded knowingly, but I was singularly obsessed.

And she knew it.

I hunched and grovelled while she posed, showing off her beauty, her enormous sexuality, taunting me, savoring my inept masculinity.

Miss Dewey was her name, Lynda, and she was my first love.

Afterwards, I offered her a cigarette, and stood nervously in front of her, fiddling with a lens. It had stopped raining and a ray of sunlight broke through the window slowly, unveiling itself, reaching a crescendo of radiance only to be faded by a passing cloud. She paid me well, and left a mark on my heart that I often revisit, sometimes willingly, sometimes not. I cherish the photographs from that day, the best of which captured pure light, sculpting her robust femininity, indelibly framing my revelation.

I named it, Welcome, Stranger...

First published: February 2001