I am speaking on a work call, my palms animated as I to explain my position when I spy Laddu outside my study door. Beyond the mullioned door, she mimes something my preoccupied brain fails to comprehend. I shoo her away and adjust focus back to the matter on hand.
The call ends and Laddu appears again by magic, this time miming and voicelessly saying something. “Speak up!” I say louder than I intend to, the frustration seeping through the glass and beyond.
“Can I wear a dress?” she asks
“Sure!” I answer, relieved it has nothing to do with schoolwork or things that will require more of me than I am willing to give at the moment.
I am on calls well past lunch. I make an appearance to get the cooker going, the dal cooking, and leave instructions for Saathi. I disappear and reappear with a twenty-minute deadline for us to wrap lunch. We manage to do that with a minute to spare.
All-day long, Laddu and occasionally Pattu and Ammu appear outside the study door. Sometimes, they open the door careful not to make sounds and come inside to grab a book or just peek over my shoulder.
Laddu’s dress is an aberration. The other two are in PJ shorts. Saathi is in his checkered night pants. I am in all black fleece. If the rest of the house seems to be in mourning, Laddu is all cream and red. She is life. She is celebration. She twirls. She swirls. She appears, her eyes twinkling, her smile infectious.
Late in the evening, I am again in the kitchen, this time making a peanut chutney and steaming idlis on a four plate rack. She stands next to me smelling the heady aroma of roasting nuts and dried red chilies. She sprinkles the curry leaves and watches as they curl up and dry. She asks me about the ingredients that go in and nods approvingly of my choice of dinner.
Her dress swishes and rustles as she passes making me notice.
I wonder when the last time I dressed up was? I have no idea. It feels like this winter that started in November will never end. I am tired of my greys and blacks. I am tired of the silver roots in my hair. I am tired of my bushy eyebrows. I am tired of this constant news cycle that seems to bring more gloom each day.
Tomorrow, I am going to line my eyes with kohl. I am going to wear that dress that I ordered at Kohls one midnight when I had little else to do. I am going to swirl and dance. I am going to listen to music. I am going to be happy. I am going to live. Joy is the ultimate resistance.