I was standing outside before the porch of our home with my hands soaked in mud silently looking at my mother’s face. A light colored cotton saree was complimenting her beautifully. Her eyes were blacker like I always had seen outlined with kohl. Her eyebrows were frowning, forming vertical scales on the skin of her forehead behind her bewitching big red bindi. “Wash your hands first, dare you soil the walls with your muddy hands. Next time you eat that mud and I will lock you in the bathroom”, She tried to scare me. My face exhibited every emotion that I would cry. My eyes were begging for sympathy. I was oblivious to why couldn’t I eat the mud when plants could. A tear rolled down from my eyes as she washed my hands. “Take a sip of water and throw it out. Mud contains germs, you will get sick! Do you understand? Say yes if you do. Say yes!” She was trying to teach me in an authoritative voice. I nodded my head in affirmation and took a mouthful sip of water and spitted it out. I went to my room to play with my sister.
Twenty five years later, I was standing at the porch of my home, my hands sopping in turmeric paste. I was asked to imprint both of my hands on the wall of our house. That time I wanted my mother to stop me, to tell me to go and wash my hands. To tell me if I wash them thoroughly then only I could enter the home. As tears rolled down from my eyes, a voice from behind came, “touch this wall here with your hands.” With eyes filled with tears I looked at my mother’s face, her big red bindi was still there right between both of her eyebrows. Her nose was red. This time only, her eyes outlined with kohl were in tears too. I had grown up…
P.S. After the wedding ceremony, as per north Indian tradition, a daughter is asked to imprint her hands with turmeric paste on the wall of her house before sending her off with the groom.
P.P.S. Writing this part was more difficult for me than I thought as it took me back in time.