The Wonder Years...

Ah, those wonder years when we used to be a motley bunch of toothsome, giggly cousins, taking the world in our fast strides! We were a close-knit gang, we were then. While our ages varied from one corner to the other, nothing mattered when we were together. I was (and still am) especially thick with Mainoo Ba, a few years older than me. We used to chatter nineteen to a dozen, oblivious of everything around us. Steffi Graf and Boris Becker used to be our favourite point of conversation. She would tell us stories of Evil Dead at the dead of night, acting out the scenes lucidly, while jackals howled outside. As I and another of my younger cousins listened to her, a thought would creep to our minds. We would observe her curly hair covering half her face, the canine teeth... 

Maybe Mainoo Ba is a vampire...

She was also the original fashionista to my impressionable mind. What she did not know about fashion, was not fashion. Period. But tell that to the guys, the male cousins of the family. They were quite creative with their interpretation of her fashion sense. I remember with how much excitement she had put on a black choker with a solitary stud around her throat for a cousin’s marriage. No sooner had she done that, the choker was christened a ‘dog collar’ by the insensitive guys. I think that was the last day we saw her dog collar...oops, her choker.

Another wedding saw her dressed up regally in the traditional Assamese wear – the mekhala chadar. She had decided to wear her curly hair in a loose bun and felt the need to jazz it up. So, she rushed to her garden and smartly snipped off three red roses from her father’s precious rose plant, tucking them in her hair bun.  As we sat waiting for the deluge of guests to pour into the marriage venue, a storm built up outside, threatening to spoil the function. “What if the marriage pandal/mandap is blown away by the storm?” was running through our minds when Mainoo Ba stood up distraught. 

“What if the storm blew away the petals off my roses?” She exclaimed. “I’ll be left only with the stems in my hair!”

She was the perfect diva, you see. Thankfully, the storm took pity on her roses and she lived to see a successful evening, filled with compliments.

One time, at one more wedding, she planned to go the whole way and try out a new look. One with false eyelashes. I gave her my full support and we went off scouring for those wonderful false eyelashes all across Fancy Bazar in Guwahati. Finally we laid our hands on them. As the evening of the party drew near, we started our ‘Operation False Eyelash’. There were several trials and we realised the eyelashes were too long for Mainoo Ba’s eyes. We resized them and finally she was ready to take on the world with her long eyelashes.

For some reason, nobody seemed too thrilled about her new look, or maybe they were too preoccupied with their own looks. Later, when the bride and the groom sat down around the havan (holy ceremonial fire) for completing their nuptials, we decided to slip off our high heels and take some rest. The marriage hall had a faulty exhaust fan and the smoke from the havan made us wipe back tears of agony from time to time. Mainoo Ba was almost asleep when a rival fashionista approached us. She opened her eyes, gave a good rub, and smiled up brightly at the rival.

The rival looked on aghast at Mainoo Ba.

“Mainoo, your eyes...something horrible has happened to them!”

The false eyelashes had come off at the corner and were curling upwards at an awkward angle. Oops.

You have a come a long way since those wonder years, Mainoo Ba. You surely have.


  1. Nice post there :)

    Visit mine post here :)

    1. Thanks, Priyanka! Read yours and it's a great one!

  2. Hahah...Say Hi Mainoo Ba! She had/has am amazing sense of humour! :D
    Loved the post Sangeeta!


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