Beautifying Maraiya

“Do they want to do it to you too?”
Maraiya reluctantly emerged from her troubled thought. She didn’t want to tell Dala she had earlier wanted everyone including her off the way. She had deliberately left an obvious sign of repulsion that only Dala, to her frustration, seemed impervious to.
Why she won’t just leave me alone, she begged silently as gazed at Dala.

It was that kind of day that the sun was worshipped. All morning the African winter had had the little valley town blanketed with hash, hazy wind plus just enough bone-chilling cold to make everyone wish they never came out to work.

With the sun slowly peering out of the cold, dusty cloud – a large number of feisty little boys were about on the large village clearing chasing an oblong plastic ball in the most disorderly manner, some risking their bones in daredevil somersaults just to heat-up. The girls were more benign in their little clapping units with a common understanding ringing out in a song: “oh ma darli, oh ma darli, oh ma darli Clemetine…”

“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was thinking about it, about her,” Maraiya said coldly. Normally they would laugh at the malapropism in the younger girls’ song, but every girl Maraiya and Dala age knew the Beautifier was here and it was their time to be beautified.

“Maraiya, they are going to do it?”
“Yes,” Maraiya nodded thoughtfully and then looked away, “but my mama is so opposed to it.”
“I wish I had a mama like yours,” Dala replied as she rubbed her thighs delicately and then concluded ruefully, “then I wouldn’t have to see my ear with my eye.”
Dala had lost her usual chatty self; she has become a sullen piece of a girl since her encounter with the Beautifier.

Though Maraiya knew that to see one’s ear with one’s eye was only a sweet euphemism for a really, really bad experience but a greater part of her wanted to know how bad it really felt.
“Was it so painful?”
Dala’s gaze turned icy, they were a pair of eyes that have learnt the hardest way.
“Can’t you see? I still cannot walk well. It’s pain, pain all the way,” Dala’s voice was almost a whisper now. “Come; let me show you something,” Dala said as she stood up.

Maraiya followed rather too eagerly.


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