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While watching a program 'Total Recall' on the telly, the evergreen love song Baharo Phool Barsao, by the legendary Md. Rafi, took me back to the bustling revelry of my wedding day.
The elaborate and exhausting rituals had already sapped the last ounces of energy out of me. I had previously spared no excuses in trying to convince my parents to postpone my marriage on the pretext of this and that. I was one unwilling bride, but soon I'd run out of ways to dupe my honest folks. As a result of my foolish strategies, I had to 'undertake' the ceremony a few months before my exams and I was left to pull my hair out in the horror of the upcoming exams.
Busy contemplating the would-be outcomes of exams just after the wedding and the proposed honeymoon, I was in a blank and shocked state of mind, on the D Day, merely watching my married sister and cousins work on their beauty and offering random tips. All of them were enthusiastically and happily working their way for the beauty pageant that evening. My sister, unlike me, hardly ever left an opportunity to dress up and try to look her best.
After every ritual, as I came into the room, she'd show me something new and ask for my suggestions which I'd duly offer. My exasperated brother-in-law failed miserably in his attempts to reason with her and make her understand the real importance of the day. I was too preoccupied with the various rituals to bother with looking beautiful, having anyway given up on the whole concept way back. But my sister wasn't in the mood to give up on me just yet.
Soon afterwards, the strains of Baharo Phool Barsao resonated through the air, acting as a signal that mysteriously put everyone, including my mother and sister, in an emergency mode. Both jumped onto their toes, very literally, throwing terrified glances in my direction. I returned them with placid, Buddha-like looks, from under the layers of turmeric paste and betel leaves. Suddenly, though, I was being subjected to action. I felt the pressure as someone tried to shove a bathing cap on my head, which was futile, owing to my knee-length tresses. Someone slid plastic gloves over my mehendi-stained hands as the shower came on, with numerous hands scrubbing me. God knows how many of them were with me, under that shower, drenching their finery.
Next, I was subjected to cosmetic weapons in the dressing room. After a few minutes and an uncountable number of hands later, I emerged, a few kilos heavier due to the make-up and in a heavy Jaipuri lehenga. I was then marched to the next scene of action, the stage, with an entire battalion of iconic beauties. At the stairs, however, I ran into Mr. Precise, my elder brother, who'd come forward to take stock of the situation. He suppressed a shriek after one look at me and did the only thing he could, at that point of time: put a rather heavy dupatta over my head.
I got onto the stage, supported by numerous hands, conscious of the loud revelry and the frenzied, palpating whoops.
"What a personality, what fair skin!"
My mind grasped the meaning of those words and figured I didn't fit into the description, at least not now. Frantic, but not yet losing my cool, I pulled my dupatta down and flung the garland around the neck of the tower in front of me who was trying desperately to steal a glance at me.
Now, with grown up children, I've still sworn off make-up and in my opinion, it best suits me.