Pink Lipstick

My husband loves me to the death. I know this in the way he stares at me sometimes, intensely, as if I am the only person in the room. I blush when his hands brush mine in the bus, or when he leaves the newspaper on the table open with an article for me to read. I like to wait for him to come back home, I like making tea for him, I like cooking for him. Especially lamb, he loves the lamb that I cook. I know that most people don't care these days for the conventional wife, but all I have ever wanted to be is this. For him, I would do anything.


I don't have pink lipstick.
And I have straight black hair.


I first met him when I was in junior college. For all my conservative values, ours was a love marriage. I met him at my friend's sister's wedding. He was dressed in a black sherwani, and the way he kept asking me to speak, the way he laughed at the shiest of my jokes, the way he rubbed his nose with the back of his hands, I was floored. We sat next to each other when it was time to eat. It seemed to me that it was by accident, only much later did I find out that it was by design. His.

By the time I went to college, he had turned me into a poet. I would write for him, about him, my whole world was his world, his thoughts were my thoughts, my dreams were him, I was his. He had bought me a cellphone on which he would call me and text me incessantly. I would bunk college and meet him at the ice-cream parlor at the other end of town, where nobody could see us meet. I would wear my burqa on the roads, so that when I held his hand, nobody would know it was me.

In my second year of college, he was living in Bombay. He would come to meet me every month, and bring me tons of gifts every time. Like all college girls tend to do, I had a huge gang of friends I would hang out with. They knew every little one of my secrets. We never held back anything from each other. They would call me by his name to make fun of me and hoot everytime I got a call from him. They would read out my poems with exaggerated sighs and melodrama, and I would pretend to get very irritated, but secretly, I enjoyed every bit of it.


The blonde hair in his sweater is probably someone on the bus, then.
But what are those pink stains on the back of his neck?


Both of us come from very conservative households. My father was very strict about where I went, when I came back home and who I spoke to, and this is not just accepted, it is understandable. Daughters are the pride of the house, and it is our duty to hold it with the most respect. It helped, for me, that he and I were of the same religion, same caste and even a similar economic background. It also helped that he was earning a very good salary and was soon to be transferred to America. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life. I couldn't stop blushing, and even though my trousseau was weighing me down, I felt light. I couldn't believe I had just married the man of my dreams. My man.

My love-life hasn't been without problems. I have been in New Jersey for over a year now. And my mother is very proud of the way I'm handling my household. Truth be told, that's all I spend my whole time doing, and I need to keep myself busy, don't I? I see less and less of him these days. Sometimes he comes home at 2 AM when I'm already asleep, smelling of something strange. Even in bed, he is hardly interested, or when he is, he gets very rough. We used to fight a lot in the beginning, but now he hardly even makes conversation. But he has always been the silent type, letting me do the talking.

My mother tells me that all marriages come with their ups-and-downs. The good wife always knows this. After all, he is my love and I need to accept his good and his bad.


I can't wait to show off the new lipstick I bought this morning.
And tell him that I'm pregnant.


Sita said...

i know a lot of girls who got married like this - classmates, acquaintances, friends. i have always wondered what their lives are like and how they cope. it isn't to say that they are weak - they're some of the strongest people i know, fighting their families to get married and live the way they want. (or sometimes not marrying their boyfriends and instead marrying someone their family chooses - that also takes much strength).
for me though, my own context is very removed from theirs that i don't think i will ever be able to understand some of the choices they make.

aandthirtyeights said...

I read a couple of paragraphs that made no sense. but they're not here anymore.

Prabha Mohan said...

Beautiful. It was as if the scenes were playing out right in front of me.

I saw so many of my friends in it. I also saw a little bit of myself.

neha vish said...

Really well written. I am always cautious when advising much younger friends on their early romances. When you're in college, you know so little of yourself. You need some of the cynicism of the world to make love work to your benefit I think ...

Sita said...

swaroop, incongruity sucks. they disappeared by magic. :P

prabha, thank you. :)

neha, although in college, falling in love does seem like the biggest, most life-defining thing, doesn't it?
thank you :)

Prabha Mohan said...

In college, falling in love was the biggest, most life-defining thing for me.

I am also not cynical.

I can't help but wonder if the two are somehow related.

Sita said...


Some of the longest-lasting relationships I know of have started at very young ages or in college. Somehow, I've always felt that as we grow older, it's harder to make friends or fall in love precisely because we get cynical.

Krishna said...

Nice one! :)