There is another knock on the door. I look exasperatedly at the barrier that separates me from the person behind it (and maybe let out a sigh of relief that I don’t have to confront him right now). This was the fifth time in the past fifteen minutes that he had come to inquire if all was well. Each rap on the door had ricocheted off the empty walls of my room making it sound like a gunshot. I tried to calm my breath in the short intervals in between and start over again.
With a wad of cloth uncomfortably held up by my chin and another wad clumsily wrapped between the fingers of both hands, every word that I had to utter seemed like a chore. But the man behind the door didn’t appreciate the effort! Oh, don’t get me wrong. He most definitely appreciated the end result of all this crazy dressing up; it was just the waiting part that he found difficult to endure.
So anyways, today I am getting ready to go for a wedding. It is going to be a grand affair since all the hoity-toity crowd is going to be there. These are the people who look down upon others through their branded spectacles while screwing up their polished noses in disgust. People meet each other and kiss the air just to maintain their air of sophistication. A good old hug or slap on the back would be too gauche. They are way beyond all these vulgar displays of affection. It just won’t do. Now you know the kind of people I would have to meet, and be judged by, you would think that I could take all the time in the world and still be correct. But to explain this to that infuriating man?!
I look in the mirror to see what miracle hours of slaving have wrought. Bright eyes delicately kohled in to emphasize my best feature – check; candy pink lips that match the color of my six yards perfectly – check; perfectly coiled hair with not a strand out of place – check; a kilo of jewelry about my person – double check. All my pleats and creases in place I finally give my sari a perfect ten and head over to the door. This is as ready as I was going to be. He looks at me and his jaws fall open. Perfect reaction – check. It was time to leave.
I am finally back home. The party was just as expected – too perfectly polite and artificial to really enjoy. My face still hurt from the fake smile that I had pasted on for the evening; and this is when I was just a guest and not the bride. No sympathies from me for her though, been there and definitely done that. It’s a part of married life that one has to get used to and the earlier you start off, the better it is. The food was divine and I was spoilt for choice. With such a wide variety to select from, getting the right stuff on the plate was like a challenge. Apart from that, there was also the need for stealth. It would just not do to be seen with a loaded plate or visiting the stalls frequently. There was the need to find the perfect balance between tasting all the goodies without being seen as a greedy hogger. (Is that a word? Well, poetic license – I am creating it now!)
So did I manage to achieve that state of perfect balance? You betcha. With all the yummy food on display, no way was I going to miss out on the chance to gorge away. Stomach full and heart content I headed over to the dessert section expecting to act politely disappointed and unaffected by all the delightful creations gracing the tables. There is a song in Hindi – dil to bachcha hai ji (the heart is like a child). It wants what it wants. You just cannot explain away the need to act polite and chic when all it wants to do is make everything in sight disappear! Ah, what a delightful evening it was and ended on such a sweet note, literally. (P.S. I also managed to sneak in a bite or two of desserts containing liqueur without coming under the radar of my puritan in-laws! Extra brownie points for me!)
I am getting to the point here trust me; it’s just that all that food has got me feeling too full to think straight.
As I ruthlessly take off all the layers of make-up that I had so painstakingly applied, I catch my lovely man standing to one side and looking adoringly at the reflection staring back. Even without all that artificial splendour, sans the glittering stones and metal, he is staring at me in the same jaw-dropping manner. The bottom line is that he finds me beautiful no matter which mask I choose to wear, or drop. His approving smile as he leans in to kiss my cheek makes me feel more beautiful than I have ever felt. It is then that I realize that in this world of artificiality, I have finally found something that is honest to God real.