"Why?" I gave her a puzzling look.
"There's something on your chin," she said as she called the next customer.
Coming out of the bank, I probed in the mirror and blushed with embarrassment.
Just the other day, I almost let out a shriek when the waiter in a restaurant "pinched" my rusty dusty. He picked something from my trousers, stuck it on the back of my palm and said, "Gift it to madam."
I blushed again. The same damn thing is out to humiliate me, again and again.
That little red dot, or the great Indian forehead decoration, has invaded my place. Like a swam of locust. Like a murmuration of sparrows that has swooped down on swaths of golden crop. Known in India as bindi, tika, pottu, sindoor, tilak, tilakam kumkum etc, the ornamental mark women from India to Indonesia wear between their eyebrows has inundated every space at my home.
In the kitchen, the stickable bindi is spotted on the most unlikely places such as the fridge, microwave, cupboard door etc. In the bedroom, it's there on the pillow, on the headboard, on the dressing table mirror and on the inside of the wardrobe door.
The bindi locust has not even spared the washrooms. There are a couple enhancing the beauty of the white tiles above the tub. The dots in myriad colours messing up the aesthetics of the bathroom mirror ruin my morning activity every day.
"Dad, our new TV has some dark dots on the screen." My daughter was aghast and was about to call the service centre when I discovered the sticky truth. The bindi was on the idiot box too.
"How the hell did it make it to the TV?" The vacuum cleaner was making vrooming noises in the bedroom, so I had to scream to get the message across.
"I don't remember sticking it there," wifey said haltingly while she pulled the sweeper to the living room.
"Oh my God! Why on earth did you stick a bindi on the vacuum cleaner?" My initial shock exploded into a candid laughter.
"Might have fallen on it when my forehead sweated. We are working class. Anyways, you asked for it. I wasn't wearing one for a long time," she said pointedly.
"When I told you to wear the bindi some time ago, I never meant to flood our lives with this sticky stuff."
"The sticker-bindis make life so much easier. Moreover, they come in different colours and shapes."
"But it is making my life miserable. Bank clerks and waiters are picking them from my person these days."
"How am I sure those bindis are mine?"
"Shut up. Apart from lifting one's profile, the sindoor has some spiritual and physiological roles to play. The sticker-bindis would negate the results." I began to churn out the Hindu myth around the original bindi made of vermillion, called sindoor.
"The sindoor, which means red, represents strength and symbolises love. It's not something we scatter around in the washroom," I continued to reason.
"It's a matter of convenience. I should get it when and where I need."
"More than the myth, it was a pleasure to watch you wear the sindoor in powder or liquid, apply the mascara and drape the sari soon after our marriage. It's like a sculptor at work. Good old days, my love!"
"Listen, dude, at 5.30 in the morning, I have no time to sculpture myself. The school bus comes at 6.10. My priority is to cook some breakfast for you. Tell your daughter to wear it and show you."
"She doesn't wear anything more than a tattooed Nepalese talisman. That too, in the wrong place. The bindi is supposed to have been worn between your eyebrows, considered the seat of wisdom. The vermillion between the eyebrows is said to retain energy in the human body and control various levels of concentration."
"Tell me which woman has taught you all these? My life is ruined; I'm ruined."
"Mama, stop being a drama queen. Dad is just trying to reinvent romance in your life. Give him a chance."
"I still remember how my sisters used their fingertips to make a perfect dot of the vermillion, and a fine-tipped stick to apply the liquid sindoor."
"We all did it, not just your sisters."
That worked. A few days later, returning from office late at night, I was greeted by a slew of vermillion boxes of different hues arranged in the shape of a heart. We now play Holi every morning.
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