Salma adjusted her pleats and smoothed her pallu as she checked and rechecked the kajal for the nth time. She had pressed and adjusted her bindi’s location (it had to be exactly in the centre of her brows!) so many times that her forehead would definitely have a small round impression by the end of the day. She gently yet firmly tucked the rose in her bun and rubbed her lips to even the dark shade of her lipstick.
She could hear Tiwari ji talking to a customer in his usual booming voice downstairs. She stared at her reflection in the hazy mirror, somewhat apprehensive. She was deeply immersed in her thoughts when she heard a loud knock on the door and Roopa barged in.
“I’m sick and tired of this Munna! I must’ve told him a million times that I don’t want to do any saree commercials and still he’s after my life!”
Salma smiled. She loved Roopa’s narcissistic nature and how she gave herself more importance than anyone else. Sometimes she even envied her. She wished she could have the kind of confidence that Roopa had. Roopa walked towards the crooked mirror and picked up the kajal pencil.
“Not again! Why do you have to apply so much kajal? You’ll end up looking like a raccoon.”, Salma said.
“Arre! You don’t understand. One’s eyes hold the power to hold anyone’s gaze and earn all the stares. That’s why! “, Roopa said with a mischievous wink.
“Whatever”, Salma said. She suddenly felt irritated and sad.
“Accha what are you going to ask for in the prayer? They say whatever you ask on this day, you most definitely get that!”, Roopa chirped excitedly.
“Really?”, asked Salma picking up some paperwork from the table.
“Yes!”, Roopa replied.
“In that case”, Salma turned towards Roopa and said, “I want them to approve the ‘name change’ without rejecting my papers and gawking at me as if I am some jinn.”
Roopa laughed.They picked up their bags and locked the room.
“Nothing else? Think about it. This Maha Divas won’t come again for the next 10 years.”, Roopa said.
They climbed down the narrow, dingy flight of stairs and stepped in the market.
“And…”, Salma continued, “I don’t want them to knowingly call me Salim anymore.”
“Also, don’t want to earn any stares”, Salma said.
Roopa smiled at her friend. Their vibrant silhouettes merged with the gaudy market backdrop. The cows continued to moo as Salma celebrated her womanhood laughing with Roopa at some silly saree joke.
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