Her Secret Vice

By Arjun Janah (Babui)
?What’s your hobby?? asked her friend.
?You heard me. Speak, and don’t pretend.
I told you mine was postage stamps,
A pastime I acquired from gramps.
But you have never told me. Speak.
I’ve asked you several times this week.?
She could not speak, for quite a while.
But then, she tried to force a smile.
?Your game is up.? She told herself.
?It can’t be kept to just yourself,
This thing you do, your secret shame.
Perhaps she’ll understand, not blame.?
And thinking of her secret pleasure,
She found her courage, in some measure.
She’d bowed her head ? and looking low,
Had studied well, companion’s toe.
But now she tried to meet her eye.
?It’s mathematics, on the sly.?
She’d murmured, what she could not shout.
At last!? Her secret now was out.
But searching in the hearer’s face,
She saw the worst ? a maid’s disgrace.
And flustered, she looked down again,
While feeling, in her heart, that pain…
She’d hoped her friend could take, what men
Could not divine ? or ever ken.
And so, she’d spilled her secret vice.
But see, her friend had turned to ice.
She saw her look of shock and horror,
And so was filled with sudden terror.
She wondered if she might be blamed
For feeling frightened and ashamed.
She wondered how to fix, what she
Had done ? or how and where to flee.
She even wondered, if her life
She now should end, with pill or knife…
?But no,? she thought, ?that’s foolishness!
Let others think their nastiness.
For if my hobby gives me joy,
Why should I not, this gift, enjoy?
Was I not made by the Creator
To be, like Her, a calculator??
And saying this, to soothe her pain,
She thought of pleasures past again.
The calculus was exquisite
For those, with skills prerequisite.
But even novices find joys
In playing with the basic toys…
And for the ones, who’re more advanced
And have, in rings, with tensors danced,
Or played with algebras of Lie,
They know, what glory this can be.
What joys compare, upon this Earth,
With proofs ? or giving theorems birth?
And so, with bashful, downcast eye,
She took her pleasures on the sly,
Remembering her sessions past,
In fields, with groups, that seemed to last
Beyond what humans could endure
And yet emerge, in essence, pure…
But glancing at her shell-shocked friend,
She knew her respite had to end.
But how, alas, she could explain
What she had done, escaping pain,
She did not know. But should she try,
Or wait till other asked her, ?Why??
2013 July 8th, Sun.

The Daily Poet

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

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