I can still remember the day I had seen her adorn herself extensively. She was putting all sorts of ornaments, lipstick, mascara, and makeup. Her bedroom door was slightly open. My father being a government school teacher, was out of station for his training. It was rather uncanny why she was putting on her glad rags for no apparent reasons.
It was the first time I realized she's just like any other woman. I thought of her as a simple woman who didn't care for anything other than family. It turned out that she was as human as it can get.
She was looking gorgeous. Watching her face in the mirror made me feel something. It was proud, love, or lust I couldn't understand. I thought maybe she wants us to go out. Should I ask or wait for her to call out for me for the instructions, I thought. I chose the latter.
Ten minutes later, our eyes meet through the mirror on her wardrobe. She smiles, but this smile was very unsettling. She turned around on her seat and invited me to come inside, twitching her index finger. I felt embarrassed and dreaded like I had just perpetrated a crime. I didn't even know why I felt that way.
Pushing the door open, I walked in and stood in front of her. My hands crossed in front of my crotch, toe digging on the marble tile.
“What were you doing, Kabir?” She asked after a sigh.
“Are we going out, Momma?” I replied innocently.
“Answer my question first.” She sways her head left to right.
“I… I was, Umm, just looking, Mom.” I whispered a timid response.
“Umm, ok… Well, we're not going out.” She said flatly, gazing at my face.
I manifest expression of disappointment.
“Awww, baby… don't be sad,” she rubs my arm in an attempt to comfort me. “Some guests are coming home, so… Momma can't go out today. But you can, you should, in fact, umm, here…” she fumbles around and soon draws out a ten-rupee note from her handbag. “Take this go out with your friends; you don't have to come back until it's dark all right?”
I was never permitted to stay out late after 5:30 pm whenever my father was at home. He used to make me study from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm every single day. That's how it was as far as I can recall. The proffer she made me cheered me up in no time. I couldn't believe it at first.
“Really? Momma. Can I skip my evening study today?” I squeaked excitedly, “Can I come home straight at dinner time? Please, Mom…”
“Yes. Sure. I won't tell your Dad about it, but…” she paused, tilting her head a bit staring at me with her knitted eyebrows.
“But what?” I bit my lips anxiously.
“You'll have to promise me. You won't tell your Dad about the guests or anything you have seen today. You won't breathe a single word of this day to anyone. Understood? Deal?” She extended her arm, holding the ten-rupee note.
“Deal.” I squeaked and seized my reward immediately.
I turned around and raced towards the main door. I took my bicycle out from the porch, headed straight towards my best friend's place. I rode like I'm on a race-track; everyone cheering for me. The simple joy of having a ten-rupee note in my pocket made me forget about everything else.