Soft notes of the shehnai managed to penetrate through the scarlet walls. She heard a rustle of silk as she got up to walk towards the window. She saw the fiery orange of marigold petals that were being put into buckets and smiled. She looked at the banana leaves adorning the periphery of the backyard. The house, she imagines, looked happy.
She should have had her hair braided and face painted by now. She sat down by the dressing table. She didn’t know where to begin. Most girls begin with trying on their mother’s jewelry. She thought. Her mother’s jewelry had been locked away in her father’s room. She managed to slide the sparkling bangles over her slender wrist… One by one, she slipped on a piece of jewelry, not looking in the mirror. And then she saw them. She had last seen them on her mother, when she was leaving.
Every pearl had glistened that day… and the stones set in gold caught every ray of the sun as they had sparkled. She remembered how every two seconds her mother’s dainty fingers tucked a strand of hair behind the ear and then stopped to touch the earring as she admired the beauty they brought to her face. Her mother had been sitting in front of a mirror, just like she was now.
She picked up the earrings and slipped them on. Her kajal laden eyes, tightly shut as the stem of the earring was fixed in place with a gold clasp, her lips quivered slightly. They always did, when she was in pain. But she knew this pain was not physical.
With great hesitation she opened her eyes. She looked exactly like her mother did. She looked like a spitting image of her mother; the last image of her mother. She couldn’t bear it. She slipped the earrings out and left them on the green silk pouch that had contained them for 20 years. They belonged to that pouch.
A sudden knock at her door startled her. It was her aunt.
“Sonali, are you ready?” Sonali. Her mother had picked her name. Her father never liked the name but he had had little say around her mother. She opened the door.
“Yes, I am…” she said hesitantly.
“Why aren’t you wearing any earrings?” Her aunt tugged lightly at her bare earlobes.
“No need,” she said as she walked back to the dressing table.
The earrings weren’t an heirloom to be worn on the day you start a new relationship. Her mother had worn them, as she decided to walk out on a marriage and a daughter.
“Your father went through a lot to make sure he got those earrings back. They were our mother’s.”
Sonali glared at her aunt angrily. She didn’t need another painful reminder of her parents’ divorce. After all, the divorce had made it tough for Sonali to accept new relationships. She didn’t need to know that every single piece of jewelry she wore on her wedding day was there as a result of a bitter divorce and a bitter lawsuit. She abhorred bitterness and she abhorred the memory that brought it on. She walked out of the room. Far far far away from the earrings.
Photograph by: Kaurwakee: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaurwakee/