Her Vermillion Longings..
Indira stood in front of the mirror, decked in ornamental gaiety. Ma and Baba looked at her reflection with pride and adore as their only daughter stood to be relieved from her maternal home. To embrace a new life.
While Baba went out to get the car, Ma gently brushed the ends of her hair saying, “I still remember you trying to get your hands on my sindoor kouto* to take a pinch at the vermillion and swipe it through the partition of your hair. You were a teenager then and blissfully unaware of the tradition the sindoor* brings with it. Today is your day. The vermillion will change your life forever”
Her best friends barged into the room and asked Ma to leave them alone. Indira stood, looking at her mother. The vermillion on her forehead reminded her of all the “Sindoor Khelas” she had been to. The air reeked of red and there she was, sitting in a corner, looking at the reverie. Red made her happy.
Walking down the stairs, she remembered all the times she dressed up for weddings, witnessing every ceremony by the pyre and the feeling it evoked in her. She longed for the vermillion.
Driving through the lanes, she saw all the times when he dropped her close to her apartment, not letting the parents see them. All the times he held her under the banyan tree stealing her away from the world. All the times, he whispered “Jeyo naa…” [Don’t go] after making love to her while sleepily holding onto her long, slender fingers.
She smiled to herself. She walked into the banquet and sat next to the pyre. Amidst the crowd revelling in her happiness, she saw him. She looked at the pyre with a smile. And then she looked into the eyes of the one marrying her.
Nine years of togetherness. Six degrees of separation.
She did not long for the vermillion, afterall.
[Vermillion powder or sindoor on the forehead, stands for the woman’s identity after marriage in India. *Sindoor kouto is the container in which the powder is kept. Here’s an image!]