Friday, February 16, 2007

Maruthaani (Henna)

I like Maruthaani (Henna) on fingers than on the nails and like the big nice round inside on the palm. I like at least one inch or if I can get more share for myself, I like to apply for two inches on fingers. I have nice long fingers. Well, except those old-lady-like-veins that I inherited from my aachchi. Fingers will look like dancer’s fingers tomorrow. I will suddenly change too girlie. I can't wait. We have a separate ammi (stone tool used to grind curry paste) to grind maruthaani paste. They say it is poison and should not mix with food, so we don't use the regular ammi to grind maruthaani. The maruthaani ammi is a small and nice looking one. Whosever grinds maruthaani gets shapeless red colouration all over their hand. It doesn’t look very nice. I don’t like it. No one does, I would think. I generally do not offer to grind. I want my nice round red in proper shape and in good contrast. Everyone is waiting. Chiththi the impatient tests the quality of the paste for every five back-and-forth- grinding strokes of the kulavi (kuzhavi/kuzavi). It has to be nice and smooth, no pieces of leaves. A small piece of leave will leave a blank patch. No one likes pulli (blank patch). We all wait. We have all finished our dinner and have planned very well that no more work to do. It is going to be our maruthaani session and good nice sleep after that. We have to keep the hands separate not touching anything so that the design remains in shape and dries nicely when we wake up tomorrow. We are all still waiting. There are atleast ten girls and women from all our families waiting and watching the maruthaani being ground. Nice moon day.

There you go. Finally done, nicely ground. Chiththi tests the quality and is satisfied. She divides the portions according to size of fingers as she puts it and manages to get a good big portion for us. There are three of us who need to divide now. Chiththi declares that there is no more dividing, it is just we should get on with applying. Amma gets less, she declares that she is fine with just for nails and takes little quantity. I don’t declare anything. I just start applying. We finally finished with one inch long on fingers and little round on palms. Mother had just for one hand and as there was nobody available to apply for her right hand, whereas she applied for me and Chiththi. Chiththi stretched a bit too much claiming for her toes too but we protested it and were able to stop her. We let it dry for sometime before going to bed.

Chithi is already is out of bed and is taking the dried maruthaani off. “Akka, give me water to clean”. She is shouting. I wake up. Amma is already in the kitchen doing her daily things. I am anxious to know the result. The round on my palms have fallen off. And it looks orangish for me. Amma’s hand looks orangish. Not very dark red. Mother is little disappointed, I can say. It never gets dark red for her, she says. Chiththi’s fingers and palms are all nice dark red. It is do with the quantity that was applied I think. She refuses to admit. It always gets dark red for her she says. I haven’t removed it yet. I need coconut oil before that. I remove from each finger carefully and apply coconut oil. Leave it for few minutes and clean it with water. The round on the palm is little bit of a disappointment but the fingers are not so bad.

It is all display time in school. Everyone noticed, I guess. Hand gestures for conversation are essential to convey the message clearly, you know. :-) I keep my fingers like dancers in Bharathanatiyam. I noticed that I often Keep the ring finger folded like rotated L, and use fingers as bookmarks while reading. When talking to girls, I often go confused, is the nail side or the palm side that has to be in the display. But, remember to turn the hand around to show the other side too. :-) I jump or dance and even try a few steps from the movies too when I get time alone at home when I can close the doors and windows.

PS: This is for you Shantha.
PPS: I guess my recent meet up with chiththi had a lot of influence while writing this above post. This is not what exactly Shantha was talking about. I need to write another one for her.


Chiththi and Amma
(Chinnak kopuram, periya kopuram)
(photo taken during my previous visit to India in July 2005)

1 comment:

Vi said...

Ithu ellam padichu patti odu navagham than varuthu.

Thank you for that...