I sat in front of the mirror, fresh out of shower, my loose curls clinging to my cotton churidar top, still dripping, probably in a hurry to leave my body. There I was, all dressed in a perfectly ironed salwar kameez, which happens to be three-fourth sleeved, because that’s in fashion? Hell no. Because that’s the modest length and no one is brave enough around here to sport a sleeveless top. It’d be against the rules of the institution. I struggled to tie up my hair. It’s quite long and frizzy. I had to tie it up. If left loose, it’d be a pain in the as..wait.. It’d be a lot of trouble for everyone around.
Especially in the bus. The bus that I have to take on a regular basis is really crowded. You can compare it with the famous Delhi metro. There you go, now you have a fair idea. I was once told by the conductor to tie up my hair. That was embarrassing. I put a black bindi right between my eyebrows that resemble a cute little forest sprawling around, with no rules, no boundaries.
I pinned my shawl on both the sides, because that’s how the rule goes around here. I was already sweating with all the clothes on and felt suffocated.
I stepped out of home like that. People saw me and asked “What happened? Did something go wrong?” and then I realized, “Shit. I forgot to wear my kajal.” Yet I smiled and answered, “Nothing at all. Woke up late.” Technically, that’s true too. I wake up late everyday.
As I was waiting for the bus, gazes followed me. Some friendly, some not. I smiled at the familiar faces and acted like I haven’t seen the others. That’s how we all do it here. I kept adjusting my shawl, fumbling with it on both the sides, with my bag on.
I looked through Facebook and saw all the feminist haters, calling women “Feminazi”, this time, the case of a particular female actor. I made a post myself, supporting the actress, simply because I thought she didn’t do much of a mistake. Shouldn’t have done that. My phone kept beeping with notifications as people started debates with me, some that can be called discussions, and others that are called bashing in the new world. I switched it to silent mode and sat silently myself. I didn’t have the energy for all this. “Then why did you talk about it in the first place?”. They called me stupid. That I didn’t know the full story. Fair enough. But do they know the full story? I kept thinking and pondering from this topic to several others as the bus moved from my hometown to the place where my college is located.
Hour after hour, lecturers came in and left. They talked about women empowerment, equality and so much more as we listened, segregated – boys side and girls side. They called themselves feminists and asked us to place our shawls on both sides. They called it safety.
Some briefed us on the patience needed for a wife, the care a mother has to provide for her child. They also encouraged us to go for further studies and considered financial independence as the main goal of a girl. Everything went hand in hand. Work, marriage, parenting.
As classes got over, again came a bus journey. This time, I was standing beneath a lady’s arm, holding my breath and cursing myself for being this short. I got down and took the next bus,rushing and pushing through the crowd easily, running after the bus. Well, being small comes with its perks too.
Back home, mother enquired anxiously as to why I was late. I kissed her cheek and said that I had special class.
I sat in front of the mirror, fresh out of the shower, my hair tied up into a messy bun, wearing a t-shirt and skirt. I fell onto the bed tired. Just tired.
That’s how it is. A typical day of a Malayali girl.
If you genuinely like my content, do follow me on Instagram at Words to Weave. Thank you! 😘