"My relationship with colours has been one of long standing. Stacks of sarees in bright colours and a collection of red and maroon lipsticks were an indispensable part of my daily routine. Saris and lipsticks deployed, I would finish my look with my trademark bindi. The bindi was such an integral part of my look that I would carry packets of bindis around in my handbag. Clad in a bright saree with bindi and sindoor, I felt beautiful. The bindi didn’t just indicate my marital status, it completed my look.
The meaning of colours changed when I became a widow. Suddenly, with his going away, all the colours in my life were gone. Grief and loss almost paralyzed me. But, I had my daughters to think about. They were also dealing with their grief and needed me.
It took me a few days to come to terms with the fact that I would never see him again. Nevertheless, I gathered my strength, put on a pale blue sari and emerged onto the verandah ready to face the day - more or less. The moment my youngest daughter saw my face, she started crying.
At first, I couldn’t understand why she was crying. Had she seen the pain in my eyes? Instinctively, I picked her up in my arms. She reached out towards my forehead, pointing at the spot where I usually wore my bindi. When I realised what she meant, my heart just about broke. I went to the dressing table and picked up a packet but hesitated. Did I have the courage to break with tradition?
While I debated with myself, my daughter reached into the packet, took out a bindi and placed it on my forehead. Although I trembled with apprehension at first, I felt more at ease when I saw the smile on her face. I decided then that to ensure her happiness, I would defy societal norms - norms that she was unaware of anyway.
Since then, I have made a conscious effort to make colours a part of my life. It has been 12 years since this incident and my daughter, who is now 17, still makes sure that I wear my bindi before I leave the house. For me the bindi has come to symbolize not marriage but motherhood."