Put your make-up on

“…..

‘Is this the right bra then?’, I asked a friend who knows better.
‘Detach the straps.’
‘But these are transparent straps…’
‘They are very visible.’
I have never felt comfortable in strapless bras, but what could I do if they were ‘very visible’…?
I told her I didn’t want to go.
‘You are coming!’
End of the matter.
Why am I not assertive enough? Anyways… when you gotta go, you gotta go.

That’s what I told myself every morning when she gave me three missed calls in two minutes. The bride of the wedding I was about to attend is a friend who gives me a ride to college everyday.
‘You can read that editorial later! Just get inside the car!
Look at me, I haven’t even put my liner…
We have a punched cards system now, the precise time gets registered… my boss…
Can you make out that I am not wearing foundation?’
So there… we were late that day.

And we were late today. But what did we miss? It was a wedding like many weddings. Except for the people in it, who were also like many other people. There were some familiar faces. Some faintly familiar ones too, faint because in spite of not being ‘assertive enough’, I had managed to avoid many such occasions.

‘But that’s our culture…
These occasions are very important’.
The context? A discussion on Radio Mirchi about the extravagant Indian wedding. Sometimes I thought she put the radio on out of spite for my Edit Page. 😦
‘But importing flowers from Thailand and Conti food is definitely not our culture…
And imagine spending three months’ salary in the parlour for just one night…’

Her parents got the ultimate compliment that night. ‘Koi kasar nahin chhodi’. There are advantages of being the only daughter! But where were the sons? One of them couldn’t make it because the airfare was beyond his reach. It was difficult to manage on an intern’s budget in Birmingham…
‘And the elder one?’, I asked the friend who knows better.
‘Mama told me that he was unhappy with the mortgage the father made for the wedding… The house would come to him after…’
‘His wife’s dad had a stroke this evening’, was the official version I heard from the parents. They looked happy.

‘But wouldn’t they rather see you happily unmarried than unhappily married?’
‘There is nothing as being happily unmarried.
You won’t understand…
All my friends are married. Two of my younger cousins are engaged. You don’t know what my parents feel.’
‘But you are not sure about him.’
‘Marriage is a gamble. And I don’t mind him, you know… I think we look great together. He is just the right height. That’s what matters…
Everyone thinks we make a perfect pair. Isn’t that great?’ And she stroked her hair.
‘Why didn’t you come with us to Hyatt that night? You could have seen him! Besides, we know the family. They are very well off, you know that… And I want to settle down now.’
She didn’t notice that I had stopped listening. She was smiling, but I could see the effort. But beyond a point, I didn’t really care. We were just neighbours who happened to be of the same age and her office was near my college. Period.

At her wedding. The car fragrance, the AC and my asthma. I guess after forty minutes of sneezing, a swollen eye and a swollen nose, I deserved the compliment I got in the bride’s room.
‘Fish!!! Look at you! Is this how you entered?’
‘I didn’t really want to come.’
‘Ya…but…’, her face fell.
‘Forget all that…
Put your make-up on’, she said.
…..”