THE BIG DAY!
The day is here, the day is here, the day is here! Seriously, your mother cannot emphasize it enough that the day is here. She keeps telling everyone this as a way of reminding them that they only have a few hours until Doomsday. Her own panic is visibly marked by her constant shuffling between your room and the kitchen and the living room.
You don’t get it . Your mom has worked hard for this. She is due to see results anytime soon. Then why isn’t she being cool about it? In the history of Rishta search in this house you’ve never seen a bigger day coming for anyone. But you can’t ask her that. You’ve learned that playing with your mom’s heightened anxiety in one of those moments can cost someone a body part and you don’t want to be that person. Not today anyway. Today that’s gonna be the cook.
Yes the cook. Or the chef. The guy from a five-star hotel has single-handedly ruined part of the dinner by not bringing the ingredients as he had promised. He repeatedly tells your mother that there are no essential ingredients in any Pakistani food and really, skipping one or the other of the ingredients is hardly ever noticeable. He flippantly tells your parents that he has left out chicken from chicken biryani at the restaurant and people have been none the wiser. Your mother scathingly asks him to shut up and bring the ingredients from the neighborhood grocery store. He pretends to not hear her and proceeds with the meal prep. You try to calm your mother down! So what if he forgot milk for the tea? So what if he forgot vegetables for the salad? So what if he forgot potatoes for the samosas? You convince your mother that these are truly mundane details in the line of cooking and the only thing that’s really eaten is food that’s presented well. This helps your mother calm down. This however makes the cook panic. He dashes out the door screaming that he just remembered he needed the vegetables to make veggie animals for the presentation with the food and that he just realized that all the ingredients that he had deemed unnecessary for cooking were actually top priority materials for making pepper swans, carrot flamingos and egg hearts. You shake your head at his idiosyncratic attitude towards cooking and go back to your room.
But you aren’t allowed today in your room. Your room has been cleaned and decorated like a wedding suite for this dinner. Your mom fears that one of the boy’s sisters is going to insist on seeing your room and will try to gauge your housekeeping skills nonchalantly. She has had a special person come in to clean your room of the fifteen years worth of junk. Along this cleaning spree you found the toothpaste you lost when you were 10, the first “love letter” that one of your classmates gave you when you were 14 and an old period pad that you had tossed behind your bed one day in a rush. None of these things raise your mom’s eyebrows quite as high as the purported love letter.
Even though this letter was written more than ten years ago, your mom’s suspicious, Indian-movie watching mind immediately pictures a scandalous past that you have hitherto been hiding from her. She cross-questions you like the NYPD and finally let’s go when is assured of your innocence. She leaves the room after threateningly saying “We need to speak about it later. This meeting isn’t over”. You wonder what she’s gonna do to you. You’ve never been her favorite child and have always been taxed with extra chores and you can see how you’ll have to pay later by washing the pile of dishes that people are going to inconsiderately use.
You’re however happy to have escaped her talons. She doesn’t like girls talking to boys. This can lead to a pregnancy in her words.
But look who’s here. The child who is responsible for your makeup is here. Your mother takes one look at her and exclaims that she thought she was older and in beauty school. The child tells her that she indeed is older, all 15 years older than when she was born, and will be going to a beauty school in the future. Your mom asks her if she goes to any school to which she replies that regular school isn’t for her so she’s just waiting to be 18 when she can enroll formally in a beauty school. Your mom gives up and brings her inside.
You look at this child with fear and pity. Fear for what she is about to do to you and pity at what your mother would do to her for how she’s going to do your makeup. The child commands you to sit in a chair and whips out a backpack that has many ninja turtles stickers plastered on it. You try to sneak peek into the bag but she’s quicker than you and immediately says that she can’t share her beauty products with you. This, according to her, is her business secret and would be the wrong move when she is practicing in a competitive market. You ask her if she has ever done anyone else’s make up before and she confidently tells you that she has indeed. She goes on to tell you of all the humans that she has rendered her services to. Like her six month old cousin, her eighty year old grandmother, her little brother who’s five and gets a make over by her regularly. Then she proceeds to tell you that much as she likes making up humans, her real calling in life is animal make up. Animals that have so far benefitted from her aesthetic sense are several neighborhood cats, a few stray dogs and even a duck. Sacrificial animals every year are decked out in costume jewelry by her and she has a knack for this type of thing. Even though this is mortifying for you, when she shows you the pictures of her cat clients, they aren’t really so bad. Her animal makeup may actually be slightly better than her human makeup.
With renewed trust in this child’s makeup prowess you lean back in your chair and close your eyes. You feel your face getting whipped with various creams and lotions. Then a brush travels across your face multiple times. Then you feel tingling in your eyebrow area. Then she brushes your hair luxuriously. She finally declares you ready. You open your eyes not expecting a complete miracle but definitely not what meets you in the mirror.
Partly because of her enthusiasm and partly because she has been told that every dark-skinned Lady should be whitened with pure physical force, she has applied an inordinate amount of powder to your face. This powder was surreptitiously mixed with a cheap runny foundation that has particularly nested in the deeper crevices of your skin. The blotch effect that this creates is interesting and mainly, terrifying. But this isn’t even the worst part. The worst part are the long brush strokes along the length of your cheeks with a bright pink rouge blush that doesn’t uniformly blend with the underlying foundation and powder and so maintains its own identity in a plethora of makeup. She has particularly spent time on your eyelids and the number of eye shades that she has used multiplied by the number of times she has rubbed them into your flimsy eyelid skin has left your eyes with a surrounding green and blue sea of eye shadow. This would’ve been okay as an independent look but she has taken the liberty of trying her hand at the winged eye liner for the first time on your eyes and the result is long streaks of smudgy eye liner emanating from the corners of your eyes.
You want to cry but are distracted by the hairstyle that she has chosen for you. Now your hair has been declared to be your best asset. But how she has treated your asset is how some financial advisors treat their client’s money……. carelessly. It appears that her heart is in the right place because she has sincerely tried to make a French knot which has ended up looking like bed head. And not a sexy one.
As you look at the mirror, the child stands proudly next to you and announces that “it would be Rs. 3000/=”. While you’re looking at yourself looking like a cross between your mother and a cheap hooker, your mom enters the room. She hurriedly gives the money the child is asking for and tells you that the guy’s family is coming in fifteen minutes and you should don your outfit immediately. You head to the bathroom dutifully.