Fiction Five00-10

Kohl and Concealer 

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Niranjan Shastri for the umpteenth time pranced to the door and returned. The bell had rung twice and he waited not very patiently for it to go for the last time. Tonight the stage at ‘Shivaji rang mandir’ was to bear a witness to his art. ‘Shivaji Rang Mandir’…. a theatre where stalwarts were born and had since decades been worshipped, revered and coveted by all rising stars. With butterflies in his stomach, Niranjan dabbed concealer again attempting to fade the purple of the bruises on his cheek. Through the corner of his eye he saw his co artists happily chattering away from the stage wing, giggling as they tried to catch a glimpse of their loved ones in the spectator gallery. Niranjan knew no such ‘loved one’ waited for him. He wished he could cry his heart out just once but he did not want to ruin his made up face. He made a mental note to cry out in the loo just before going home for at home the mere sight of tears greeted him with blows and bruises- no father wants a ‘soft’ boy. 

Lightly dabbing the corner of his eyes, Niranjan with a steady hand began to apply kohl. The swollen eyelids ached as he separated them lightly. The girls around him marvelled at the confident sweep of his hand. Niranjan smiled a little. Keen observation as his mother applied kohl for years had not gone waste. His mother- how he missed her today! People always told him how much he looked like her.  Was it why his father could not stand him? They say kohl made you see clearer. But today even as he applied third layer of kohl, things were still a blur.

He remembered her as a petite form with a celestial voice. The voice, which had enslaved connoisseurs and infuriated his father. Take the breath away and a mortal dies. He forbade his wife from stepping on the stage and Madhavi left for heavenly aboard. The legacy of melody she left in Niranjan soon became his bane.  

The clock struck twelve. Niranjan walked onto the stage and stood in a peacock blue nine yard paithani sari, gold ornaments accentuating the luminous aura of an all encompassing persona. He struck the first note and the entire auditorium was pulled into a celebration called ‘Bhamini’. The wide range, powerful throw of voice maintaining the grace that came in as effortless and natural as a flowing stream. It brightened up the expression, tantalizing and alluring but nowhere immoral or promiscuous. Today the Bhamini on stage held power over the emotions of every person off stage. She could make them cry, she could make them fall in love. The last aalap ended and the theatre burst into a rapturous applause followed by a unanimous appeal for a ‘once more’. Concealer had won over the purple bruises, kohl triumphed over swollen eyelids. At midnight ‘ Gandharva’ heralded his rebirth as a mortal.


Bhamni-   female lead character in the sangeet natak ( musical) called Manapman ( honour and dishonour) immortalised by the legendary ‘ Balgandharva’ 

Gandharva-  a celestial being with melodious voice.

Aalap- a combination of musical notes in Indian classical music.


Photo From: Unsplash

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