4:25pm today

‘She won’t wear her pottu any more’. This is my first reaction to the news. Her pottu was big, round and red. Not a sticker pottu, but one made from real kunkumam carefully centred between her brows every morning and every evening after her bath. It will be the first to go. Her face, almost always a shade of yellow from manjal will no longer have that sheen. And what about her saris? The reds and yellows and mustards and greens. Solid, rich colours. The temple borders. The oosivanams. The chettinad checks. They will go too. She will wear muted colours. English colours she called them. And the flowers. The malli wound around her bun will no longer scent the air. And her metti and taali. After so many years they had become a part of the landscape of her body. And now they will go. It seems terrible that all these things can be taken away. Bestowed on her by her husband and taken by him. It seems even worse that they had become so important, such an integral part of her that when they are gone, I may no longer recognise her.

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