Ingles Verde Amarelo

As a child, I always loved playing dulhan dulhan. Every time my cousin Rabia came home, we spent hours dressing each other up as brides. We would lock ourselves in my room, announcing to the family not to disturb us. Then the two of us would stand in front of the dressing table. There were three big mirrors fixed to a small cabinet, a flower vase and a photo frame with me posing as a kid. I hated to see the scarceness of my dressing table. It was lined with talcum powder, body spray, shampoo, hair oils, moisturizers and a basket of hair accessories. Every glance at it made me yearn to see it full of lipsticks, nail paints and eye shadow.

Stealing the makeup from my mother’s room was the first part of our play. I would stealthily walk into the room, grab her lipsticks, eye pencils, eye shadows and whatever I could lay my hands on. Meanwhile, Rabia would set the study chair in front of the mirror to ensure clear view of the bride-to-be.

I was always the first to be dressed. I would gracefully seat myself on the chair. Next few moments were spent on deciding the colour of the lipstick, which was always red in the end. The brightness and glow of the colour was always fascinating. It took several strokes of applying and wiping the lip-colour before we would finally settle for it. Though, it would invariably leave a red shade around the mouth.

Picture by long formal dresses

For the eyes, we would sometimes choose the same red lipstick so that it matched with the lip colour. Other times, we would try pink, brown, grey - applying and wiping every time – before we were sure pink looked best. The most challenging part was applying the kohl. The act of putting the pencil in the eyes would only hurt and bring tears. Yet we persisted and saw it through. So, the makeup part was over.

The embellishment of dulhan, the bride, was incomplete without clothes and jewellery. Opening my large metal box full of silver and faux jewellery was most exciting. Rabia would keenly scan through it, pick up an earring, put it on my earlobes and painfully take it off. She would repeat the same with a few more until she settled for the one that touched my shoulders. I stood coyly, giving her a freehand. The earrings were followed by the necklace, the bangles, the rings and the tikka.

Now the apparel! Mother’s fancy duppattas that she had donned at her wedding were my favourite. A blue embroidery duppatta was draped over my head and a red one was my sari. Once ready, I would modestly sit in front of the mirror, appreciating and finding faults at the same time. One final look and now it was my turn to play the bridesmaid and adorn Rabia.

All through these acts we would both laugh and joke and talk about how we would look as real brides. Soon we would be fed up with our overdone attire and throw things here and there. Next morning, we would wake up with reddish mouth and eyes. It was never easy to completely wipe off the colours without leaving behind a few telltale signs.

Over the years, we grew beyond dulhan dulhan and got busy with life. But we were always emotionally attached to the word ‘bride’.

I got engaged and the wedding date was fixed. I spent months collecting best of everything for the big day: clothes, footwear, jewellery and everything else. The countdown began and so did my eagerness to get dressed as a bride. Every time I looked at my dressing table, it reminded me of our dulhan dulhan days. And I so earnestly wanted the mirror that had seen me grow up over the years to witness this watershed moment in my life. It had seen me a number of times in play-bridals and now the big occasion was only a whisker away.

My wedding was just a week away when the last year’s September deluge devastated Kashmir. It washed away everything at my home and with it my million dreams. It was heartrending but we decided to go ahead with the wedding in the middle of the mayhem. Rabia was the maid of honour, as she always used to be. She dressed me up and took care of every small detail. But I missed my home, my room and most longingly and painfully the dressing table with its mirror that, like Rabia, was privy to so many of my childhood stories.

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