Long lacquered nails are tapping on the table. I look at them and turn green with envy. One look at my chipped and shapeless nails, the beauty queen at the counter smirks with distaste. Will she ever know that once I had twenty bottles of nail-polish tucked away in my fridge? Will she know how methodically every week I removed the polish and repainted the nails with glee? What happens to a married woman post marriage?
The life of every average Indian woman can be divided into two segments- Before Marriage and After Marriage. The life in BM stage is all rosy and dreamy. It is exams, dresses, latest fashion, ice-creams, teddies and cards. It is all fun and frolic with new dresses every now and then. Kolhapuris to match the lucknowi chikan work cottons, starched Bengal cotton sarees paired with matching jewel sets and an array of slippers, shoes and floaters neatly arranged under the cots. Not to forget the huge teddy that sleeps on top of the lovely lady.
The pinnacle of such glorious womanhood is reached on the days immediately following the Marriage. Shaadi- one word that can turn a kitchen mouse to Cinderella. The boxes of silk sarees, the matching designer blouses, the silver anklets, jhumkas, yards of jasmine and vials of Chanel...ah! Reminds me of a glorious era in life. And just when you think life is a bed of roses, comes the shocker- " Maa! Aaap Maa bannewaali hain!"
Then starts the slide down the hill that you climbed with so much ease. You forget your lip stick and lip gloss the moment your strawberry gloss makes you throw up. Eye shadows go out the window, your eyes replaced by sleepless nights. No make up. No jewelry- imagine having to wear twenty sovereigns of gold in your neck when your extra ten kilos- laden tummy pulls you forward. Wave your stilettos a farewell, you are not going to need them again in life. Forget your Bengal cottons, you are neither getting the time to starch them nor iron them.
Forget your dangling earrings, the little angel likes to hang on to it. You can find your face adorned by tiny scratches. Your cheeks become dough, thanks to the frequent pinching by your little one. Long tresses...you forsake them, for you won't have the time handling a toddler and all the combing, shampooing, oiling and pampering the black silk.
Nails? Sssshhhh...don't ever think of them. You might accidentally scratch the soft skin of the baby. Nail polish...do you have the time, really? The perfume is replaced by pungent nappies. All you can smell over you is food left overs deposited by the little one on you or the citrus fragrance of wet wipes. Your kurtas carry the fragrance of mother's milk, complete with the tell tale patches. You try to be your old self only when the toddler starts his pre- school and by that time, one look in the mirror, you will be horrified at the middle aged XL sized woman staring back at you.
This is that phase of AM that most women give up. Simply give up, because they feel beauty lies in the heart. Every babble of the baby is a compliment to that wonderful feeling called motherhood. Life has become all sharing and caring for the loved ones. Somewhere in this phase, most women feel contentment. Life is only caring for others- the husband, the children. Seldom do they realise, it is their life after all. Looking beautiful is a boon, grooming oneself is an art.
Women forget the grooming part when weighed down by homework and odd chores. Not everyone enjoys the trivial pleasures of long facials, manicures and pedicures. Not everyone makes it a point to still line up slippers matching the dresses. Not everyone wants to keep updated with the latest in fashion. Yet, thankfully, these days, the tribe of well-dressed and well-groomed middle aged women is growing.
40s might bring in spectacles. 40s might ring in strict diet regimen. 40s might bring out the dark circles around your eyes. But nothing can outshine the radiance from within. The beauty of living a life for others. The joy of giving plenty of love. The happiness in being 'mommied' all around the place. Still, finding little time for painting the nails, acquiring matching jhumkas for that red mysore silk saree, pairing Jodhpuris with cool cottons, changing your ray- ban aviators once in a while, dressing up complete with lipstick and blow dried, ironed hair for a wedding...all these perks do come attached with having an eye for being presentable.
Dressing up is the right of a woman, BM or AM. Why should a woman lose the pleasure of dressing beautifully just because her son is in high school? Wearing a jean and sporting a short kurta on a train travel cannot be such a crime! Leaving a lipstick smudge on a coffee cup in cafe day cannot be a sin. Painting your nails black and blue cannot be termed 'wild'. Add spice to the beauty within by accessorizing it with the right make up and hairstyle. Nearing 40 doesn't mean that one has to look akin to a strict convent teacher! Life can be fun AM, provided women understand the need to look beautiful not for other's eyes...just for themselves. After all...it is our lives!