Three Virgins

Manjula Padmanabhan

Read time: about 2 minutes

This story belongs to the collection ‘Three Virgins and Other Stories’ by Manjula Padmanabhan. I had a pleasant chance of reading this story in ‘The Parrots of Desire’, an anthology by Amrita Narayanan.

Three virgins is a simple yet profound story that explicitly talks about the first time sexual experiences of three people. The story is divided into three parts. These parts take place during an especially interesting lifetime of a liberated woman.

The first part begins with the author facing difficulties explaining the meaning of the word ‘Virgin’.

As for why a term was needed to describe a condition which was defined by its loss? Well. Nine years in three different catholic schools in three different counties had still not provided me with an answer.

She also often wondered the part that a woman’s sexuality plays in religions.

Or how it came to be that two thousand years of religious doctrines depended upon the intactness of one woman’s secret membrane.

The author as liberated as she is, decides that nobody is going to bully her into career or marriage; and to whom she chooses to submit her virginity to is going to be her own choice. The author wants to explore her sexuality and conveniently believes that she only needs a man to do so. Any man, for that matter. At the age of 18 when she does get involved with a man only for physical exploration she soon realises that she never had any emotional connection with the man. She may have slept with him but they were never one body, one soul.

She realises that

My mind was my absolute domain, that it could never be invaded or colonised except with my consent. It was a wonderfully liberating realisation.

In further parts she encounters two virgin men who do not want to go to the nuptial bed with zero experience and she takes it upon herself to ‘teach’ them. In turn she causes the men to run off the track. She goes on explain the encounters to be clinical in nature. She single handedly helps in ruining two marriages. It may not be all because of her but she helped, definitely.

After a number of sexual experiences the author finally understands the meaning of ‘Virgin’.

Virginity is invisible. It has no mass or atomic number. It has little to do with membranes or bloodies sheets or pain. It means nothing to those who do not seek the truth.

It is a completely different kind of story that I came across by chance. I thoroughly enjoyed the prose style of the author. She is gifted, truly. Looking forward to more stories by the author.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH