On make-up and memories

Today I splurged on make-up.

I walked into Sephora, shushing the wailing sirens that always start blaring the moment I see shelf after shelf of intimidating make-up products. I clutched the phone like a talisman. On Notes I had saved a list of things I needed, one that I had compiled in the safe haven of my room, after hours of online research. It had names of shades I wanted to try and recommendations of trustworthy friends. But more than that, it contained a certain modicum of confidence, the only thing that would ensure my safe passage through those shiny aisles.

For a while I pretended like I knew what I was doing. My traitor mind took me to that nondescript make-up aisle in Carrefour of all places, a year and a half ago, when I had bought my first foundation. We were in Dubai, it was Miss Munchkin’s birthday party, and I had stolen half an hour to get my eyebrows done in the neighbourhood parlour. I’d walked into Carrefour, hurriedly found the closest shade that matched my skin tone, bought it  before I changed my mind and walked out feeling equal parts embarrassed and accomplished to have come this far in life without knowing how to apply make-up. I remembered how I had locked myself in the room to get ready and walked out feeling extremely conscious, and how Mamma (but who else?) had noticed and told me I looked pretty, making me breathe a sigh of relief.

I shut out that irrelevant memory and walked up to the nearest salesgirl and surrendered myself. Told her I needed something for a special occasion and admitted that I was a newbie. While she must have thanked her lucky stars for presenting her with a gullible customer first thing in the morning, she was gracious enough to not look smug about it. I followed her through the aisles, filling up my basket with one product after the other. For the first time in my life, I blocked out that part of my brain now screaming for my attention, asking me to check the price tags at least, reprimanding me that sensible women don’t go crazy shopping with reckless abandon. Because that’s exactly how I felt. Like I was this completely different woman who threw stuff in her basket going “Ooh isn’t this the perfect shade of red?” or “Boy! I love how this makes my eyes pop!” The old me, the one who would evade salesgirls to the point of being rude, the one who walked into stores with a purpose and always had the calculator handy to figure out prices after discount and the total, shook her head and gave up after a few moments.

When I finally handed out my card at the cashier, I didn’t flinch. Not once. No, not because I had money burning my pockets itching to be spent (I didn’t, to be honest) I thought about all those days coming back from teaching the whole day long wondering if it was worth anything, and how I had forbidden myself from spending my salary on anything other than the basic needs (and books, which is kinda the same thing) I thought about the book launch and just how much it means to me, I thought about how it feels like my entire life has been building up to that moment, and how the last time I had felt like this was right before Miss Munchkin was born.

But more than anything, I thought about the woman I was, barely a year ago, the woman who would cringe at the sight of a mirror. From being slender and put together, I had turned into a slob with a blob of a face. Instead of a jaw I had a double chin (I still do, sadly) It didn’t matter to me anymore how I looked like because I didn’t venture out of the house, thoroughly occupied that I was with the wee little one. I let go, and it was slippery slope and it was only when I found myself in the pits that I finally woke up to reality. I stood up, dusted myself off and bought my first bold red lipstick. I wore it cautiously at first, but my reflection in the mirror oozed confidence and I started pretending I was that reflection. That one red lipstick changed the way I looked at myself.

So today, when I bought make-up, I thought about my Deuta who doesn’t approve of a woman resorting to unnatural means to hide what he believes is natural and beautiful. I thought about my husband who would definitely be taken aback when he looks at my loot, specially since in a moment of unadulterated happiness I went ahead and bought the little one toys for being a well-behaved child all throughout my shopping session. I thought about all the things I had refused to buy in order to save up for this moment, and I wondered if it was worth it.

It is, you know. It so is. For the sake of the woman that I almost became, and the woman I am today instead. It is all worth it.


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