Suspicious me


I am in front of my dresser, critically evaluating my visage and the various lines that have started creasing different parts of my face. I take out a new tube of face cream, a brand that I have used for over two decades now. I squeeze two pumps on to my palm. I suddenly move my eyes from the mirror to my hands. The cream’s consistency doesn’t seem right. It looks like a lotion and not at all like the cream that I have used for so long. I ponder over this sudden change in its texture, but go ahead and apply it all over my face. I then quickly seal it with some powder and a dash of lipstick, and I am good to go.

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

Later in the day, when I am back home after running some errands, I wash my face. And then it starts, an unbearable burning all over my face. I examine myself in the mirror. My face is swollen near the cheeks, and the skin appears red in a few places. I apply coconut oil, and think about what could have happened.

I immediately remember that my usual cream this morning hadn’t seemed ok. I am angry now, as I immediately think of so many possibilities. I head purposefully to my dresser and pull out the tube. Had the shopkeeper tried to sell me cream that was past its expiry date? I strain my eyes to read the expiry date on the crimp. It says 2022. Ok.

What then? Maybe it is a fake product masquerading as the original. I get worked up. How could this happen? I have used this for so many many years. I feel irritated and suspicious. Almost like a detective, trying to explain what could be wrong.

Then logic prevails for some time. My brains pipes in, “Couldn’t it be something else that caused the burning, not this cream?” “Hmmmm, possible”, I reply. So seeking conclusive evidence, I open the tube again, and squeeze a little cream into my hands, and apply it on one part of my face.

When I am just about to put away the tube into the drawer, I see the word Wash on the tube. What? I flip the tube and read, it says Face Wash. Whaaaaaaatt?????

No wonder my face is on fire. I had spent the whole morning with dried soap on my face. But both tubes look identical. Sigh! I laugh, as I apply some ice to cool my face.

I also think about this. How quick I was to suspect that it was somebody else’s fault. How quickly I had come up with theories to justify my assumptions. And this is what we all do sometimes. We judge before we are equipped with the full facts or before we know for sure. Sometimes, as I just realised, the mistake may be on our side. Truly something to think about eh?

Lipsticks and little girls


It was a sweltering day, many years ago, when we had the naming ceremony for my baby girl, who was only 3 weeks old.  My mom’s home was teeming with aunts, uncles, cousins and little nieces and nephews, all of whom had come to bless and welcome our little bundle of joy.

I received hundreds of tips on being a mother, and hundred ‘must-know’ things about child rearing, and a dozen versions of who my baby resembled in the family. It was a normal, Indian family celebration.

I was a little tired by the afternoon, and when my mom caught my eye and realized that I was tired, she signalled for me to go in and take a quick nap. I slipped away, unnoticed.

I went and lay down, my eyes closing involuntarily. While still asleep, I heard something. I opened my eyes and realized that one of my nieces was in the room, before the dresser mirror.

I could see her reflection in the mirror, as she made faces at herself, and then tried on one of the lipsticks. Gently opening the tube, she used her finger to apply a dark maroon lipstick on her lips. I could imagine how good and beautiful she felt. After sometime, she quietely slipped out of the room.

Image courtesy – Shutterstock

I laughed, fully awake by then. I remembered how, as a little girl, my favourite game was to play ‘teacher’. The role demanded that I have long hair, and that I wear lipstick.

The hair problem was easily resolved. I found a piece of black cloth from my mom’s sewing kit and tied it around my hair, allowing the black cloth hair to fall over my shoulders to  the front. My students ‘had’ to see my long hair.

The lipstick posed a problem. My mom did not use lipstick, neither did my aunt. But my teachers at school wore lipstick, so I needed to wear lipstick to look authentic. Then I hit upon the idea of using the red liquid that Indian women use to wear bindis (the dots on the forehead). This was available in abundance, so during the afternoons when my gran, aunt and mom napped, I applied generous amounts of red on my lips and taught and educated many children every afternoon.

Lipsticks and makeup were forgotten till high school and university, when my mom gifted me my own lipstick for my birthday. I still remember its shade, copper brown. I still wonder how my mom knew what would look good on me! I used that tube till there was nothing left. 

After that first tube, lipsticks became a part of my life, and over the years I have tried many shades, and have settled on a few that suit me well.

A few years ago, when my son had his school concert, the little girls in his class were all dressed up like pretty dolls and fairies. However, a few girls had their lips in a weird kind of pout. On asking their moms, I found out that the girls had worn lipstick for the first time, and that they did not want for it to go away. I remember how much I laughed that day.

Now, my daughter grimaces when I talk about makeup or lipstick or accessories. She is ‘at home’ in her jeans and tees.

I smile as I look into the future, when my daughter will want to try on lipsticks and makeup. She just doesn’t know it yet!

The essential me!


Thankfully, in my world social networking means ‘really’ going out and meeting friends and socializing. However, going out also means that I need to ‘get-ready’ good clothes to wear and also ponder about my appearance, hairdo and accessories.

Some clothes have sequins and lace, some have embroidery, some have beadwork, some are heavy, some are light, some need heavy accessorizing, while some are so heavy that there can be no room for accessories.

Most days, going out nicely dressed is a lot of  fun. However, sometimes the sequins chaf against my neck, sometimes the hairclips that pin my hair tug at my hair roots, sometimes the material of the saree or dress makes me feel like I am in an oven.

And finally, when I get home, the joy of getting back into home clothes is pure bliss. Lovely cotton clothes, worn out and faded, much loved and frayed – can anything feel better? Tying my hair in an unruly knot, without hairclips to nag me. Removing make up and splashing cold water on my face.



Image courtesy – Clipartbaby

All this, and I am myself again. This is the ‘essential me’. My home clothes make me more efficient. I can think with more clarity, with my hair in a tangled knot.  Stretching out on the couch, I contemplate. I am at peace. I am home.