There’s mehendi on my hands. No, I’m not messing up the keyboard… I went to Shilparamam the other day and ended up with henna-ed hands.

Intricate patterns in red-brown on a pale pink-cream background… it’s fascinating. Remember, P, when we were little girls and used to grind gorintaku akulu (or rather, get someone to grind them for us) so that we could get big blobs of cool green gooey stuff on our palms? Of course you remember, you even remember sitting in the balcony to catch the sun so it would dry! Remember how our wrists hurt from keping the palm straight so those big green circles wouldn’t smudge?

And then, washing it off. Holding our hands under the tap till it was all off, we emerged with the tips of our fingers bright orange and wrinkled, and then ran to get oil to rub in so it would be ‘redder’. Waking up in the morning to the smell of gorintaku – not eucalyptus oil, not whatever perfume the lady at Shilparamam used in that cone – that raw, musty smell like an intensified version of the grass in the rain… Running across the corridor to see whose hands were darker. Arguing over whose hands were darker.

And then it fades. Like mine is fading now. Only then, it took longer. Long after all the colour was gone from our hands, our fingernails would be half red-orange. Remember?


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