She looked at herself in the cracked, stained mirror. Her red bindi had smudged into a big sun on her forehead and the cheap, red lipstick was smeared all over her tender, chapped lips. She briskly draped her saree to look less provocative. A discarded cloth on the floor met with its destiny to wipe off the stains that gushed the story of the day. ‘The first and last time.’, she thought to herself as she wiped the last of the red off her face. The stains on her memory were however indelible.

She drew a small bindi on her forehead and twirled for the last minute check. Her stomach grumbled as she walked out into the market. She bargained ruthlessly with the vendors and bought some supplies. Her tired feet rushed her home, where saw her soul sleeping.

She gently woke her up. The girl squealed and leapt into her open arms. The little girl’s complaints on her maa spending a long time with friends were forgotten. She prepared vegetable pulao and scooped generously onto her daughter’s plate. Her heart squeezed as she saw her angel gulp it greedily.

She later walked to the rickety shelf and opened it to put in the remaining money. The cheap lipstick was thrown out of the window with a sigh of relief. A pair of little, skinny arms hugged her from behind,

“Maa, Can I go to school? I want to study like the others.”

She froze for a moment, looking at the meagre sum she just kept inside. Thoughts flooded her. 

“Yes dear, why not. You can study.”, she said patting her daughter’s little arms. She stared at the cursed lipstick lying outside. Will it never leave her?

Picture courtesy : Pinterest