In India, being a widow was the worst that could befall a woman. She had no support left, no social standing and she was forced to lead a life of deprivation and seclusion. But that’s not my story. I was always self-sufficient, independent, and fortunately a part of urban India.
The day G died I had to travel 8 hours in the middle of the night to reach him. I barely carried enough clothes; I didn’t have the presence of mind to put on my red bindi, green bangles and mangalsutra – symbols of marriage important in his culture. So when I did find out he is no more, there was no possibility of actually removing the ornaments. If I was wearing them, I’m sure i’d have had to take them off, but thankfully I was spared the ritual. I don’t even know how they do it!
But even though there were no ceremonies, I haven’t felt like dressing up since that day. I was someone who went to the parlor every week, changed my hair style often, wore dresses and towering heels, put on bright nail paints and lipsticks and generally felt good when I looked good. And G loved to see me dressed up. And that’s why I think I stopped doing it, because he won’t be able to look at me anymore. Now the heels are packed, make up is untouched, and parlor visits happen only to massage away the headache that never seems to leave me.
Every morning when I was getting ready for office, he’s get up and watch me. I couldn’t leave home before he’d seen me and given me a hug. If I was out of the room and he woke up, he’d think I left without meeting him. And then he’d call my name till I rushed in and reassured him that I haven’t left yet. He had to see me decked up and tell me that I look hot.
Now I don’t dress up because I know his compliments and hugs will not follow. I’m ok with shabbiness, not with loneliness.