The Karva Chauth Eve
Bangles. Check. Vermillion. Check. Chunni. Check. Toe ring. Check. Husband. Oh ya, him too…Check.
10:00 a.m : The customary WhatsApp group has been formed. Plans for the next day. Useful information on how to manage hunger. Pictures of pretty, devout women standing gazing at the women. You don’t look anything like those women, you note with dismay.
11:00 a.m.: An alarming update. The mehendi-waali has backed out. Which she does every year. But we still don’t learn. We live in perpetual hope that at least, one year there will be a Karva Chauth eve when she’d show up without a fuss. We are women, after all. We don’t give up. Not even on the object of worship for the coming day.
11:15 a.m. : The object of worship has called from office, informing he has a dinner party that has come up today. That’s it. He has again picked the wrong time. You are already so stressed and in no mood to cope with another issue. You yell and scream telling him where exactly you will shove that dinner party if he does not come home in time tomorrow.
12:05 p.m. : You are driving down the road scanning the pavements anxiously. The mehendi-waala is needed since the mehendi-waali ditched. He is the object of desire of a lot of women on this day. Scores of women are seen on the roads with poorly-disguised craving for men with mehendi-stained fingers. They are usually found perched on low plastic stools along the roadside.
12:30 p.m. : You find one who has a short queue. You yell ‘stop, stop’ and the driver slams the brakes right there, sending the cyclist behind you flying in the air. He escapes with a few bruises. No broken bones. Now he fears they will be broken by the wife later today, ‘You had to get band-aids right on your face to ruin our karva chauth day photos, haaen?!’
12:45: p.m. : You are negotiating with the mehendi-waala. You want to pay only Rs 200/- per palm. He says the rate is Rs 250/-. Unless, of course you want an Arabic design, which is Rs 200/-.
‘Bhaiyya, Arabic design kya hai?’
‘Aisi hi hai’
‘To kam kyon hai?’
‘Kyonki kam hai.’
After some more annoying back and forth, the conclusion is that Arabic design is the same as the Indian design. Except, less of the palm is covered. Well, we could go into war with Arabia with his misrepresentation.
1:15 a.m.: Your turn has still not come. The woman ahead of you, in a sudden gush of marital obligation has decided to get mehendi put till her elbows. Others who are not affected by her decision, unlike you fawn over her,
‘Pehla Karva Chauth hai?’
She blushes and nods.
1:45 p.m.: She is still perched on the stool while you shift your weight from one leg to the other. Her husband saunters up to her. Shiny, blue shirt with buttons open to reveal a hairy chest. Rippling muscles popping out a trishul tattoo. A Virat Kohli beard. Except on a Chris Gayle face.
‘She wants him to live forever?’, you smirk.
She pouts and informs him deploying her cute, baby-voice,
‘It will take time.’
He wanders away and buys himself fruit chat.
2:00 p.m.: Finally, it’s your turn. Aaah! the sweet passed-forwardrevenge of having someone else wait in the queue behind you and squirm. The woman seated nearby is insisting that the mehendi-waala insert her husband’s initials in the design.
‘K.L.’, she whispers shyly.
‘Kishan Lal? Kripa Lakhani? Kedarnath Lodha?’, your mind attempts possible full-forms.
2:30 p.m. : You scramble back into the car using your elbows for support. You are already dreaming about food. The WhatsApp group has sprung to life again. They are planning a potluck. You are itching to respond. But your palms are mehendi-restrained. Possibly, your object of worship, few miles away is wondering if there is any mehendi available that could do the same to your mouth.