From the book `A Morsel of Different Shades’
“From riches to rags, what a downfall, thought Malini. Her own brother had done this to her. In no time one’s fate could somersault and bring that person down. She was lucky, however, to get the junior teacher’s job, though she could feel the lustful eyes of some of the male members of the interview board. It’s a strange world where the near ones are hard to decipher and strangers out to pounce on you, she thought. Any selfless do-gooders left? No, she was still to come by any such noble creature. Sympathisers, a galore. A widow with children, perhaps, attracted more attention from the sympathisers who poured out sweet words, but in the end, when it came to providing any real help, vanished into thin air.”
* * *
‘With all the gibberish about women’s independence, the fact stands out clearly that a woman should have a man, and that marriage alone works as a safeguard and cushion against disasters; two is more than one by one and that was of great help. God has ordained the marital relationship, perhaps, with great thought. But what if one loses her spouse and is exposed to external disturbances. This externality leads to different paradigms; diversity of these paradigms is the handiwork of God. Hers is only one of the variations and, therefore, should have its own solution, a solution for survival. A man has to come in the picture,’ she was lost in her thoughts.
At thirty-five, she found herself unsuitable for marriage. She looked at herself in the full-length mirror of her dressing table. No, by God’s grace, she was left with some youth even now; though she had never considered this asset important. A figure to conjure with, contours still impressive, in fact, she was better endowed than Reshma or Sneha, though she was not as beautiful as Mayawati. Transfixed, beleaguered and depressed, she returned to her thoughts about Prithvi’s future.”
* * *
“After returning from school, she took care to dress up in a carefully careless manner. Somehow, symmetry didn’t appeal to her aesthetic sense. It took her about fifteen minutes to set her locks of hair in desired places so as not to make the hairstyle on either side of the parting exactly similar to give a symmetric appearance. Her hairstyle matched the asymmetry in her face that made her look even more exotic – an upturned nose with two unequal nostrils, the gradient of the upper and lower lips slightly dissimilar, the sparkling teeth having asymmetry on either side of the nasal axis and a dimple that graced only her left cheek. She had a measly wardrobe with not much to choose from. She preferred green to other shades but she opted for a deeper shade of red – maroon – for her sari, a printed one. Then she opted for a matching blouse exposing more of her back than front, ———— for her meeting with Badri. Turning halfway on both sides by turn, she took a final look at herself in the full-length mirror, and called out to her children: ‘I will be a little late. The food is there on the table. You take your dinner at the scheduled time.’ And she moved out of the room in rapid strides.”