The bell rang. A siren sounded .The train slowly chugged out of the station. Dhanya flipped through the pages of the magazine with disinterest. She put the magazine down and gazed through the window. The cool breeze gently caressed her cheeks. The fleeting sights of fields’ lush and green, coconut groves and rows and rows of tiled cottages transported her to her childhood, years she spent with her Grandpa and Grandma. She closed her eyes. Her ears shut off the din around. She moved from the present to the past.
The house was abuzz with activity. Everyone was busy. People ran helter – skelter. The ruffle of silks, the clink of bangles and the strong scent of ‘mogras’ and “agarbattis” added to the excitement. But in the midst of all this there was one person who was lost and lonely – Dhanya. Just a kid of six, she sat there all alone in her room on the first floor not knowing what to do, cry or laugh? Cry at her sorry state or laugh with joy for her mother?
Suddenly the door opened and there was a flutter of activity. A bunch of teenagers rushed into the room and before Dhanya could collect her wits she found every inch of the room occupied by them. In walked Priyanka Di and the door closed.
“Hi Dhanu! Meet my friends Arathy, Vidya, Reena,………”
Dhanya muttered a “Hello” under her breath. She wanted them to go and leave her alone. But Priyanka Di and entourage were in no mood to leave. She tried to keep aloof but before she knew it she was drawn to them. What followed was mesmerizing. The foundation, the rouge, mascara, eyeliner…….. transformed the damsels into fairies. Dhanya could not take her eyes off them.
“Now how about dressing you up little angel?”
Dhanya turned to find Priyanka Di close behind, a beautiful pink dress in hand. Dhanya protested but Di was not one to give up. Finally dress slipped over the head, Di took her to the dressing table and sat her down. A pair of downcast eyes stared back at her. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
Taking the small chubby hands in hers Priyanka dabbed the nails with acetone and cleaned them. With dexterous moves she started to apply nail polish on them. Mixing and matching she worked on them for the next ten minutes.
“Wow!!” Bewildered Dhanya looked at the faces looking down at her and then the nails. Her eyes lit up. Ten lovely faces, faces of different hues looked up at her. She smiled. Her little hands wrapped themselves around Di and her lips planted a kiss on Di’s cheeks.
Quickly un-entangling herself from Dhanya’s embrace, Priyanka set about readying her. The next fifteen minutes saw her work on Dhanya’s little face and hair. The transformation was awesome, simply mind-blowing. The dull, sad face was radiant; the limp long hair was recharged, silky and flowing, the shy little girl looked every bit an angel. Looks of admiration and words of appreciation lit up her face and the happiness radiated to those around. Priyanka Di then slowly led her out of the room, down the stairs to her mother’s side.
Dhanya looked up at her mother. She was dressed up like a bride. Standing beside her she looked into the glass covered pillar. The reflection winked at her and said, “You are the most beautiful angel I have ever set eyes upon. You are more beautiful than your mother.” The tiny eyes winked back, tiny hands covered the mouth trying to suppress a laugh. She forgot the marriage, forgot her mother and ran in search of her buddy, her grand pa.
The rituals over mom came over and hugged her. The hug was scorching, she wanted to push her away, but then let it be. Grandpa came along with Priyanka Di and took her to the waiting car. She jumped into the seat beside the driver. The car moved. She looked into the rear view mirror. Mom was there along with her new husband waving to her. She shifted her gaze, turned her head and looked straight at the road ahead. The second phase had started.
Dhanya was suddenly aware of a flurry of activity around her. Slowly opening her eyes she looked out. An old man and and woman entered the compartment along with a small girl of six. Dhanya looked at the girl and wondered, “Another Dhanya?”
The train slowly chugged out of the station and gathered speed.
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