The village girl models for the artist, 1904

You want me to talk, Sir?
I’d relax and you can paint better, Sir?
Maybe, Sir…maybe, but what shall I say, Sir?
For I am not used to talking
to important people like you, Sir…
Why do you laugh, Sir?
It is true, I’m just a girl from the village, Sir
attending to Laxmi and Ganga –
those are our family cows, Sir;
and I milk them; and my father
and I bring the milk to the market
and to neighbors who can afford to pay for them…
We don’t carry them in these fancy pots Sir,
you make me pose with
but just earthen jars, Sir…
But this morning, Sir, my father said to me:
Come, Mina – you shall pose for a famous artist;
India has never seen such an artist
and he shall pay well
and perhaps with that I shall buy a third cow;
three neighbors owe us money
and will never return them in this life;
and the old woman in the sixth house has died
owing us money for these last four years…
You just have to stand there
before the artist in your cleanest sari
and use borrowed milk pots…
And that is what my father said, Sir…
I normally don’t dress in such clean clothes, Sir;
the saris I have are saris my mum used
but she died when I was little, Sir…
Sir? You want me to keep talking…but I am boring, Sir
and I talk simple words and I am sure you’ve heard…
Oh Sir, I’m more used to talking to cows
than important men, Sir…
All right Sir, I will tell you…I will tell you…
I do have dreams, Sir
and it is just the dream of all the
girls in my village:
I’d like new saris and jewels
and I’d like to be married
before the year ends;
Arun from the next village
always looks at me
in our town fairs
and Oh, would that he’d marry me
and we’d have a home and a farm and cows
and we’d have children
and we’d live our quiet lives
in our secluded village…
Sir, that is my dream…I have nothing more to say, Sir…
I hope you are done…
Or maybe you should talk, Sir…

companion painting: The Milkmaid (1904) by Ravi Varma

Raj Arumugam's picture

...been thinking in the language of poetry and scribbling verse from as early as I can recall of my days...FLASHBACK: born naked in India in 1955...was shipped to Singapore in 1961, well-packaged...sent myself over permanently to Australia in early 1998...FINIS: ...just can't get out of the poetry-mind...

Last updated August 20, 2011