She did Pre-degree with me. I remember her very well because I was in awe of her. She is the only daughter of a Kottayam Achayan and until then I had only ever heard about real Kottayam Achayans and their lifestyle.
She was the epitome of beauty and style. In those days, she had earrings that matched each of her outfits.(while the rest of us had a pair or so earrings) She had black metal earrings even before they became available in the local market. She talked about shopping in Bangalore, holidays to Singapore, parties at home etc etc. I still remember her story about one of the parties her mom organized. Her mom hired a chef to cater for the event and the highlight of the dinner was an art creation made of vazha pindi and cutlets.The chef rolled the cutlets around paddle pop sticks prior to frying them and stuck the stick on the pindi. At my house, cutlet itself was once in a blue moon thing and I wondered where the chef sourced the paddle pop sticks. (I thought he might have eaten all the ice cream and saved the sticks..and that became the second wonderment.. you know, for someone to be able to afford buying so much ice cream…)
After pre- degree she went to Kolkatta to study fashion design and I never saw her again. Couple of years ago, she found me on FB and made me promise her, if I ever visit the country she is currently staying, then I must visit her and I did.
First thing I noticed when I saw her walking in to the cafe to meet me was the jet black hair. I have always found it amusing to watch middle/old age women coloring their hair in jet black hair. The idea is to look younger, but the reality is that it makes you look a decade older. She wore a flared long skirt and a full sleeve top that probably was in fashion 15 years ago.. As she sat in front of me, I noticed the layers of foundation on her face and it wasn’t very hard not to notice the black eye underneath all that makeup.
To be honest, what I was expecting was the same woman who was voted the college beauty in first and second year pre-degree. Well dressed, manicured nails, etc etc. The person I knew and the person sitting in front of me were two different people and then there was the black eye. How do I deal with the black eye? Ignore it? It is not like we have been really good friends. The only reason I told her when I was I was visiting her country was to see her progression in life. I was curious… It was meant to be a short visit.. Hello, coffee, compare our vital statistics ( you know, the husband, average 2.3 kids, house, luxury car etc) and a good bye.
And we ended up talking. Her parents are dead. She was married off to an Achayam who was born and raised outside India. Achayan loves to drink and then he bashes her. Achayan also has a steady girl friend.(Another Achayathi!) and visits the red light streets. But she is putting up with all this because her religion expects her to.
I told her, if your religion tells you to live with a philandering husband who bashes you, then you need a new religion.
When it was time for us to leave, she looked at her watch and said “Oh my God, I am going to be in so much trouble for being late” and rushed out to get a taxi.
I assume, she got bashed for coming home late.
I didn’t ask. She didn’t say.