Someday I will wear a pink bow and explain to my little sister why she can like, and wear pink. I will tell her about the time a boy in school had made me cry and I ran to the bathroom to wipe my eyes on the sleeves of my white uniform. I will tell her how while I cried; I surprised myself by noticing how green the bathroom tiles were. She will smirk, the edge of her lips curling, when I will tell her that my white skirt was actually a faded yellow and that it had made me very unhappy to see it that day.
I will tell her about Manav, the boy who sat behind me in class—the first boy to have ever made me cry. He was a big bully. Two of his front teeth were missing – Everytime I looked at him, it seemed like he had lost more teeth. This made me hate him more. That Wednesday in English class, he pulled one of my two piggy ponytails and wouldn’t give me my red ribbon. He said he threw it out the window. When I complained to the teacher, she looked up at me, clicked her tongue, and went back to reading her book.
When I will tell her this, my sister will look doubtful. Maybe she won’t believe Manav threw my ribbon away, maybe she won’t believe the ribbon was red, maybe she won’t believe the teacher didn’t do anything.
I will then begin telling her about another time another boy made me cry.
I will tell her about the pink frock with the pearly white beads down the front that ma picked for me. How when I told her I had to wear a new frock for the Christmas dance at school the next day, she frowned.
-Tell them you are Hindu. You get enough new clothes for Ganesh Chaturthi.
-But the teacher said that we must wear a new frock. All the girls have Christmas frocks. I want one. I want a pink one.
-Are they going to make you dance with boys now? Ask your dad, I don’t know about this. We don’t send our girls there so they can go dance with boys and all.
After I tell my sister this, we will readjust how we sit. We have been sitting here for too long now. The creases on the bed sheet have smoothed out. When we have finally picked a position, we are sitting a little apart from each other, almost decidedly. There’s enough space between us to keep both our palms on the bed now. I will then proceed to tell her how on the day of the grand Christmas dance, Rashmi and Ashish danced together. They were both class monitors. They looked so good together that it made me feel very uncomfortable. I didn’t like my stupid pink frock anymore. Rashmi was wearing a satin white one and her cheeks looked chubbier than ever, her eyes looked big and her lips were a nicer shade of pink than my dull frock. I looked at Ashish and wondered if he liked holding her. Did she like holding him?
I must have been staring at them for too long — I didn’t listen when the teacher started announcing something. She told all the girls to switch partners and when I didn’t move, the boy I had been dancing with grind his teeth together and tugged at my beads, my pearly white beads that came off and hung loosely by their threads. Some other unfortunate beads came off easily and he hid them in his hands and refused to open out his palms and show them to me.
I ran to the bathroom and stood by the basin, crying. Everything was messed up. Ashish was not supposed to dance with her. Rashmi was not supposed to dance with him. My beads weren’t supposed to come off so easily. My pink frock was supposed to be the prettiest in the class.
When I will tell my sister that after that day, I have never owned anything pink – I am scared to tell her more. She will look at my pink bow and not ask me questions. I will tell her that now I like pink and that she too, should like pink. Her face will become an unreadable cloud and I can only seem to focus on her eyebrows and then everything dissolves and falls into stories I have not told yet. Slowly, everything starts disappearing – the bed, the bedroom, my sister, the frocks and I’m left alone, without any stories to tell.