The Fat Indian Girl (#3)
The engagement party
Meera is standing in front of the gigantic mirror of her room trying to figure out what to wear for Sara’s engagement. Sara is Meera’s school friend. Meera puts three very old fashioned salwar kurtas on her bed, she is struggling to pick one of them. The first two have garish embroidery done on them, all of them were purchased by her mother during some or the other relative’s wedding.
Meera wouldn’t dream of buying such gaudy clothes. Meera doesn’t like buying any clothes at all because whenever she goes shopping most things that she likes don’t fit her and whatever fits her is too expensive for her to buy.
Meera barely spends any of the household money mainly because there is not much left at month end after investing into Roma’s failed ventures and social obligations. Although Meera knows her father will never say no to her if she asks for money she finds it very irksome to do so, specially in front of Rohila.
Meera’s father may be rich but he is as stingy as the Gujarati stereotype goes. When Meera was young she complained to her father that her mother was not buying her another Barbie doll only to witness Mukesh severely scolding Roma for being a spendthrift, his exact words were, “half of what I earn every month goes to you both and yet you cannot manage, really what am I supposed to do? You can’t even keep our child happy, only if you stopped spending on all of your exhibitions and kitty parties”.
Roma cried for a week after that, also, she did not talk to Meera for that entire week. After that day Meera never threw another tantrum for a material thing ever in her life.
Meera decides to wear the least gaudy of all of the three outfits, a cream coloured kurta with matching patiala pants and a satin red dupatta. She tries to comb her unruly hair into something that looks presentable but it still remains a curly mop on her head, she puts it all on one side. She puts a black bindi (round sticker) on her forehead, she loves giving such subtle Indian touches whenever she is dressing for weddings, she likes dressing in Indian clothes more than she likes wearing little black dresses because they look good on her body.
Indian clothes are meant for a slightly curvaceous body but unfortunately the way people dress at weddings now with blouses that could easily be mistaken for handkerchiefs, necklines that reach the waist, and washboard abs clearly visible under the flimsy pallu of the saree, Meera’s Indian body is of no good use because it cannot keep up with the trends.
Meera has always had a very eclectic dressing sense, she secretly eyes her mother’s Kanjeevaram sarees that have been passed down from one generation to another. She has a portrait of her great grandmother in one of her drawers, in the picture her great granny is wearing a handwoven silk saree, she hopes to wear it one day and look exactly like her great grandmother. Meera loves the look of stoicism and grace on her great grandmother’s face. Unfortunately, none of these qualities exist in Meera’s mother who uses tic-tac pins with hearts on them, “that’s what’s in Meera” says Roma, to justify her rampant use of juvenile jewellery.
Meera is about to leave, but her mother stops her.
“You cannot go without putting on earrings Meera”, says Roma while fussing with Meera’s hair to straighten it out.
“Can you stop it mom, please?” says Meera, pushing Roma away.
“Arrey, I am just trying to set it, come I will comb it”, says Roma.
“I combed it already”, says Meera trying to find her matching shoes in a hurry, so she can get away from Roma’s makeover schemes.
Meera hates this about her mother — the most — among all the other things that she hates about her. Every morning as soon as Meera walks out of the room, Roma starts straightening out her hair, it annoys the fuck out of Meera, she always screams, “Who’s seeing my hair right now mom, what’s your problem”.
“I am just trying to make it look proper”, says Roma, every single time.
Meera doesn’t get why her mother wants her to look proper all the time and Roma cannot explain to her daughter how not looking proper can lead to broken marriages.
Meera puts on the long earrings that her mother just gave her, they are incredibly heavy, after a while she feels something running down her ear, she touches it, it’s blood, flowing from her earlobes. She rubs it off and decides to keep the earrings on in spite of the stinging pain. Meera knows even with the earrings on, she is going to be the most underdressed person at the wedding, she is always the most underdressed person everywhere, at least the earrings will make her feel less out of place.
She looks in the mirror, she likes what she sees, apart from earrings she is also wearing lipstick and kohl, a rarity, she thinks make up is a waste of time and why take so much effort to look good for others.
Meera enters the overly decorated wedding hall, she sees Sara’s mother who is greeting all of the guests that are coming in, with a big fake smile that all bride and groom’s family walks around with at Indian weddings. Sara comes up from inside of what looks like a dressing room, she is wearing a resplendent, red and beige ghaghra choli (a combination of skirt, blouse and dupatta), she looks every bit like a bride.
Sara hugs Meera, she calls her mother and re-introduces Meera to her mother, who right now is incapable of thinking of anything else, apart from the fact that her little girl is soon to be married.
“Hey mom you remember her, Meera from school, Meera Patel”, says Sara.
“Oh yes-yes” says Sara’s mom “hi, how are you, beta? I couldn’t recognise you, how much weight you have put on ha? Why become so fatty-fatty?”, she jokes stretching both her elbows out around the waist, explaining what fat is through visual-aid.
“Mom stop, now go bye”, says Sara feeling extremely embarrassed, just then there is an announcement for the bride and her family. Meera is relieved.
Sara smiles at Meera and walks away daintily. Sara’s mother is still talking to a few guests who just walked in.
Meera gives Sara’s mother a weak smile and excuses herself. She rushes to to sit down at the corner most table where nobody’s sitting yet. She plops on one of those pretty chairs covered with white cloth and a purplish bow, she removes her earrings and wipes out the fresh blood that is flowing out of the recently unclogged holes in her ears. She puts the earrings in her purse, sighs and thinks, all this effort for nothing.
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