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Those few hours when she returned from school to an empty house, were like Nirvana. She would deck up in her mother’s cosmetics and pose before the mirror, until the day her brother saw her.
The second winner of our October 2019 Muse of the Month contest is Preethi Warrier.
She gazed listlessly at the setting sun, a variety of hues splayed across the sky. The beach, the sea and the cool sands were whom she turned to for a little solace, they didn’t judge her after all. Copious tears fell down her cheeks, she didn’t bother to wipe them. People ogled at her as they walked past, she defiantly smiled back. If only someone understood… but alas!
How very excited had she been on receiving the guest invite for the popular Literary Festival. She had looked forward to the event for days. She had planned her attire, the perfect sari, the cosmetics and the complete ensemble with extreme care. And today when she had finally made it to the event, a sense of gloom and dissatisfaction loomed somehow.
The audience had been gracious, so had the organizers and other panelists, but why did she feel that she sensed a light hooting when her speech began? Was it just her, or were they all politely avoiding her? Were they intimidated because the invite had been for HIM while she had turned up as HER?
Fifteen years was a long time, but the sting was still fresh. Come puberty and she had realized the hard way that she was definitely a girl trapped in a boy’s body. The kajal, the liner, the lipstick, and specially the bindiya, appealed to her, much more than muscles and a manly torso. Those few hours when she returned from school to an empty house, were like Nirvana. She would deck up in her mother’s cosmetics and pose before the mirror, until the day her brother saw.
The family knew, they were flabbergasted. Then ensued a string of threats, punishments and beatings , she was forced to return to ‘normalcy’.
But teenage brought in raging hormones and rebellion, and she paraded herself in her mother’s sari, jewelry and make-up at a party at home, much to the surprise and amusement of the guests. It was her way of revenge, her war-cry.
Some clapped, some whistled, there was wide-spread laughter and cat-calls. They all unabashedly mocked her aloud. So much so, that she hid her face and ran upstairs, her very first attempt to express her identity had gone horribly wrong.
The local gossip mills rolled and her furious father and heart-broken mother threatened suicide if she went ahead this way. She adored her family, so she locked up her desires deep in her heart and threw the keys away. Or so she thought…
The mirror often reminded her of her real self, she ceased to take a look at herself now. Her parents were beyond happy, their son had forgotten about his little misadventures.
A marriage at thirty had been unavoidable, she had tried her best to put it off for long. But society and many a times, close relatives tend to understand the least. Family pressure to tie the knot had turned intolerable, and she reluctantly agreed to take a wife.
The physical relations had been in doldrums since beginning, the wife failed to see why. Unfortunately, the new bride was the victim, for not being able to please her so-called husband in bed or produce babies. The lady argued, fought and wept, there was no marriage, she accused.
She knew, her bride was always right. It was unfair to keep her bound to a fruitless relationship, just to appease the world. But parents could be irrational when their child’s marriage was in question. She and her innocent bride continued to hold on to a futile marriage.
One certain night, when the wife was fast asleep, she couldn’t stop herself from breaking free from the shackles. The bride’s classy ornaments, the assortment of make-up items, soft dresses, tempted her. She cautiously picked them up, one by one, tried them on, and marvelled at her own reflection in the mirror. There she was, the real her, beautiful and graceful.
And suddenly, a figure appeared behind her, the wife’s, her mouth open with shock. The lady took to her heels, angrily packed her stuff, never to return again. A bitter divorce battle followed, the entire neighbourhood heard the rumours and when the divorce finally came through, her parents banished her forever, out of their house and out of their hearts. A transgender person, a disgrace to our family, they labelled her.
She had always scribbled, her dreams, her pains, her desires and longings. Some good friends encouraged her and her poems took flight, her anthology turned out to be an instant best seller, with millions of good reviews, blessings and well- wishers. Almost all her readers seemed to empathise with the author’s plight of being unable to express herself, her identity, and her sexuality.
She was glad to have carved a niche for herself, to have made a valid point through her writings. And that’s why, when the invite reached her, she decided to come out of the closet. She would shed the mask from now on.
No more hiding, she had promised herself. She was done pretending to be someone else. The cosmetics were her War Paints, her way of expressing herself. She loved wearing them and she wouldn’t give them up for anybody.
Then why now, watching the sea, did she regret coming out? Hypocrites, they bragged about ending the gender bias, being equal, being sympathetic. And still, none of them were ready for her, ready to accept her.
She rose and strode ahead. The soft waves caressed her feet, she closed her eyes, soaking in the powerful sound of the lashing waves. Long ago, she had waged a battle against them all, but she had been defeated. She now prayed for courage, to march ahead fearlessly, to resurrect herself into her real being and what she wished to be.
Editor’s note: In 2019 our beloved writing contest, Muse of the Month got bigger and better (find out how here) and also takes the cue from the words of women who inspire with their poetry.
The writing cue for October 2019 is this quote from the poem Mascara by Indian poet and author, Meena Kandasamy, known for her writing on feminism and caste annihilation, often reaping from her own life.
once. . .
She awaits their resurrection.”
Preethi Warrier wins a Rs 500 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web. Congratulations!
Image source: shutterstock
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If her MIL had accepted her with some affection, wouldn't they have built a mutually happier relationship by now?
The incident took place ten years ago.
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Trigger Warning: This has graphic descriptions of violence and may be triggering to survivors and victims of violence.
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