A painting lesson – The Hindu

IIt was my love for the English language that prompted me to join University College, Thiruvananthapuram. Plus it was only a five minute walk from my house. And two members of my family were already in middle school – my father as a teacher and my older sister in graduate school.

During my sophomore year in college, her girl’s club decided to throw a party. On the program, a painting, a folk dance, a group song and a sketch. There were four prizes to be won and the identities of the judges were kept secret.

For the dance, the song and the sketch, the students were chosen for their talent. As I didn’t possess any special talent, I pocketed the role of Goddess Saraswati in the painting. My only asset was my long hair almost reaching my ankles. As for my appearance, the secretary consoled me by saying, “Don’t worry, the makeup artist will turn you into a beautiful goddess. I did not inform anyone at home that I was attending the event. I wanted it to be a surprise.

The big day arrived and all the participants gathered in the green room at 1 p.m. sharp. The make-up magician came in, clutching a bag containing his magic potions.

The first element being array, I was its first victim. “So you’re supposed to be Goddess Saraswati?” Once I do your makeup, even the real goddess will envy you,” he said. After finishing his work, with a triumphant look, he took a mirror out of his bag and held it in front of my face. I almost fainted when I saw the face staring at me. I looked like the pink goddess printed on the calendars.

At 3 p.m., the stage was set for the painting. I crawled in an artificial lotus with two co-stars. One of them knelt on my left side holding a brass plate filled with lotus petals. The second girl crouched down behind me with her pink hands outstretched to make it look like I had four hands like the goddess. Soft music was played and the first girl started to slowly sprinkle the petals on my feet. The first row was occupied by the heads of departments and the Principal. To my great surprise, I saw my father there. I thought the heavy makeup would hide my identity not only from my father but also from the rest of the congregation.

Suddenly I heard someone from the audience say, “Saraswati is not breathing, I’m sure she turned into a statue. The comment made me feel that my role was indeed a success.

Victory somehow

The table was adjusted the second best. Eight of the nine judges gave it’s the first place. The one who didn’t was my dad. He had recognized me despite all the heavy makeup. I regret to this day not having revealed to him that I was participating in the show. He would certainly have apologized for judging. My two co-stars gave me a cold look when they heard the result. Even after all these years, they have not forgiven me. We are all three grandmothers now!

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