When the afternoon sun suddenly peeped inside Mansi’s room, the vermilion powder on the silver decorative plate popped up as the plate sat quietly on the dressing table. Few rice grains that adorned the water in the silver goblet shone brightly.
Mansi quickly pulled the curtains. The thick dark grey curtains stood like huge bouncers outside a club, blocking the uninvited sun but even they had no control over the transom window above. The weak rays followed Mansi as she opened the cupboard and took out a red and turquoise silk sari. She looked pleased to find it as exquisite as she had left it last year. Mansi placed it on the bed and caressed it with hard press of hands where it had seemed slightly wrinkled.
She heard a rustle from the kitchen. Must be the mother in law. She checked the time. It was 4 pm. Shouldn’t she have already have left by now? Once the noise subsided, she glanced at the door lock to make sure it was securely closed.
A minute passed. Then another.
This was now her time. She had a few hours to be herself.
She checked her phone and swiped a few rights to find her favorite picture of her and Kenny together. She smiled cheerfully when she found the one. Kenny holding her up in the air. She screaming to be put down. He looked so handsome. She held the red and turquoise sari on her breast to show it to the man in the phone.
Look, Kenny. This is what I wearing for you today. Hey, hey, don’t peak too much. Give me half an hour to get ready. Then you can have all of me.
She blew a few kisses to the phone and ran to the adjoining bathroom to take a quick shower. When she came out wearing the red blouse and underskirt, the room picked up her energy. The walls bloomed into henna patterns and the droplets in her hair refused to leave her hair no matter how hard she whipped them off with the towel. She blew hot air and finally tamed them into a nice plait.
The sari was easy to wear. Last year she had checked DIY videos on the net about how to get the pleats right. The lady in the video had shown how each pleat has to be set. She tried to remember the video.
Make pleats on the front and in the
process fold the sari near the left waist to show the border
in an extra pleat, then tuck the pleats in the center.
She made the pleats as she remembered.
She draped the pallu and pinned it. A smile blossomed on her face. She remembered how one time Kenny fiddled with the pin while trying to remove the pallu and in turn hurt his finger. She had laughed and then took the finger in her mouth to ease the pain and stop the blood oozing out.
I love you. He had whispered on her clavicle. Mansi had tried to shrug it off as the clavicle felt warm and cold. It still felt warm and cold.
The mirror had an advice for her. Do smokey gold eyes, turquoise bindi, just a little rouge on cheeks and only clear lip balm for the lips. You don’t want to overdo it. Mansi obeyed the mirror and only when the mirror approved the final product, did Mansi look way to find her bangles and chandelier earrings.
She picked the silver plate from her dressing table and sat on the ground. Just before she meets Kenny she wanted to do the Karwa puja. Even thought it was all by herself in this room. Just because they wouldn’t allow her amidst the other women, doesn’t mean she wouldn’t complete her duties of a loving Hindu wife.
The raspy voice on the video recited the entire karwa katha story and even though there was no one to exchange thalis with, she was content she did her best. After the puja, she waited for Kenny to come home so they would go up on the terrace to see the moon through the sieve. As she waited for him, she played another video on her phone.
Aap ki nazron ne samjha ..
Pyaar ke Kabil mujhe ..
The sun went down and the moon announced its arrival with a glow behind a cloud.
In the evening, Kenny came home and exchanged a hug with his mother. I will eat later. He said when she asked him come for dinner. He entered his room and switched on the light. He saw a dusty oxidized plate with matching goblet lying on the ground. He picked it up and placed it on the dressing table. Just like he did every year on a particular day for the last four years.
Ever since his wife died.