Trees in the yard beside stand tall, heavily adorned with mangoes in April’s raw daylight. Aamras does the work of sleeping pills and I’ve the entire house to myself for the afternoon. I tip toe in the hallway in my white chikankari frock making my way to the dressing room. I sit in front of the mirror with a red pouch Mumma always takes out whenever we head outside. The pouch is full of things I know will make me look more beautiful but don’t know how to use. With years of observing the process of makeup I open the pouch. I use the red lipstick that smells very much like Swiss chocolate with glittery pink eyeshadow that I apply hesitantly and put on blush a little too enthusiastically, pocketing a few blush balls that I had plans to draw with. Slowly closing the door behind me I happily jump around the house that has somehow turned into an endless Broadway stage. Twirling my decked body midst summer with the usual hum of crickets I realize it isn’t impossible to look like Barbie, feeling proud of myself I bow and exit the stage.
a home no more:
“you’ve grown up”, I say to myself as I stand at the gates of a building, my school. It is very much like any other building with the same standard embellishments. I stand here at the gates in my best dress with my hair done and make up on, to say goodbye. 10 years, of going to the same place everyday in a set uniform that we’d try to give our own touch cautiously under the scanning eyes of the staff. Girls would never leave a chance for one pony and boys for long spiked hair. Instant pen tattoos, matching friendship rings, everyone had their own identifier, a way of adorning. As students who now very much feel like family walk in, in a way you haven’t seen them before, you think to yourself how different we all are. Years of going through it all together doing the same thing had created this invisible safe circle that I was about to walk out of. I had no idea how the simple act of adorning could either create a sense of unity or the sense of uniqueness. We all stand together, a tight knit group of kids, dressed in their own skin, laughing while reminiscing. Moist eyes and dolled up selves, that evening is when I left home. I will never forget what I wore nor how everyone and everything looked, this is how I will piece together a puzzle of the evening I will never forget.
a new home:
2 nights ago, I was in my room looking for an escape and here I am now, at the ghats in Varanasi. An unplanned trip that has very much left me thirsty for another visit. Rowing along the banks you get to see it all, a very concise visual of what the city stands for. Temples with pagoda architecture and intricately carved shikhara architecture, masjids with captivating domes, ruins that still stay alive through tales, endless bodies burning as death keeps hovering and age-old trees weaving through walls portraying an enthralling sight. It is true, you get to see the entirety of life at the ghats. The living, the dead, past, present and future. I sit with my sister in front of BrijRama Palace planning to go to the local Japanese Café for katsu don and ramen. It felt too cinematic to be true, Ganga in the front, perfect orange like sun setting and finding calm amidst the crowd that didn’t stop. I watch strikingly decorated sadhus walk by as my sister tells me about the bookshop, we ought to visit on Assi Ghat. Home is place you build up with little things that you’ve collected over the years and somehow, this city feels like it and I hope to decorate it with memories.
Sitting on the hills watching the city lights glimmer I wondered why my colleagues asked me so, “why do you dress like a writer?” all I could come up with was, “well….”. But I think there’s always a part of us ornamenting ourselves into the skin we think is us at that moment of time and that becomes our identifier. The girl with the wide smile, uncle with huge soda glasses, that house with a Bougainville archway, that song about 24k gold? These details teleport you in time and to that specific memory that adorns your life so far. Listening to finely curated playlist overlooking the city that looks marvelous I realize, life in fact is in adornment.