Joined: 03 November 2010
Joined: 03 November 2010
Banner courtey Chutki alias Boyznaka. Many thanks for the awesomeness Chutki. She says she put all the pens in because it signifies the collaboration..and colors because, well, colors. I say she raaackkks!
Khushi slung her bright yellow jhola across her shoulders, freed her braid from where it had gotten stuck in the strap of the jhola and headed to the door.
"Stop right there Khushi Kumari Gupta!"
Khushi froze as Buaji's stern voice rang throughout the house.
"Where are you going?" asked Buaji, striding up to Khushi, her thick braid slung across her neck as usual, the thin red towel tied around her forehead indicated that she had a headache, and was hence not in a good mood.
"To the show Buaji. I have to put the final gotas on the swimsuits today," said Khushi smiling, at the thought of her bright gota work being advertised on a platform like Miss India.
"Gotas on swimsuits? Sanka Devi, have you lost your mind?" asked Buaji, staring at Khushi incredulously.
"Why not Buaji? Swimsuits are just like salwar suits. Only, you know, a little shorter and they don't have dupattas. That is all. But that's OK. Some of the wraps for the swimsuits will have gota work on them too. So, it's all good," said Khushi. She fished out some channa from her bag and began munching on them, wondering if Lavanyaji would like the pattern she'd picked out for her. Lavanya was her favorite contestant. Although, she was by no means Lavanya's favorite gota seamstress. Or Lavanya's favorite anything, really. Still, she preferred Lavanya to Pam and Sim. Or any of the 18 other contestants. She had had 3 sessions with the contestants. Picking out the right gota for each costume based on color preference, complexion, and personality. For Khushi Kumari Gupta, the person didn't find the gota. The gota found the person. This was serious business. She'd spent painstaking hours putting things together and today was the day she got to try the final costumes on the girls. She was excited. She'd been excited since she'd gotten the call from AR group, the main sponsors of Miss India 2012.
This year, the organizers had decided to bring ethnic into swimwear. They'd said something about India Shining. And so, they'd sought out cottage industry owners from small town India to work on this somewhat challenging project. Khushi had beat out challengers from Kanjeevaram sari weavers in Tamil Nadu and staunch Khadi spinners from Gujarat. Her gotas were bright, they had personality, they twinkled. They were effervescent. Just like her. So far, she hadn't mentioned what exactly she'd been doing to her family. She rather thought they might not like her working on skimpy swimwear. But today, she'd been very excited and happy. And had let it slip. She didn't think Buaji had taken it well.
"Sanka Devi! Are you crazy? Swimsuits with gotas? Tell me, are they the one-piece ones or the, you know!" said Buaji, lowering her voice to a whisper as if she couldn't bring herself to say the word.
'What Buaji? Oh, no. They're bikinis!" said Khushi nonchalantly, stuffing her mouth with more channa.
"Haye rey Nandkishore! What are you doing Parmeshwari? What will the neighbors say when they find out what you are doing? Payaliya, did you know about this?" said Buaji, turning upon Khushi's older sister who'd come in to the living room hearing the commotion.
"Know what Buaji?" asked Payal smiling slightly.
"About gotas on swimsuits. And not even one-piece swimsuits Nandkishore!" said Buaji hitting her forehead in dismay.
"Err, yes Buaji," said Payal hesitantly.
"And you let her go ahead with this madness?" asked Buaji horrified that the sister with more sense (in her opinion) had also partaken of this affair.
"Buaji, we need the money. The landlord has asked us three times for this month's rent. Once Khushi gets paid for this, we'll be able to pay rent for the next 6 months. I thought it a great saving actually. There's very little material, therefore less work and a great saving on cost. And she gets paid three times as much because they call it "designer wear" said Payal, in a satisfied tone.
"Hmmm. You have a brain after all Payaliya!" said Buaji. The idea of money coming in was always enough to allay Buaji's moral objections.
"Haan Buaji! Besides, its not like I'll be wearing a swimsuit, na. I am just going to put them on for other people to wear," said Khushi chewing steadily now.
Buaji slapped her on the head. "Be quiet Sanka Devi! Just because I am letting you do this doesn't mean you are off the hook. I'll be sure to let Shashi babua and Garima know when they come back from shopping," Buaji threatened.
"OK, Buaji. But now, I have to go. Bye Buaji. Bye Jeeji," said Khushi, hugging her sister quickly before leaving the house like the whirlwind she always was.
"Khushi, you're late!" Pam was tapping her heel impatiently as she spoke.
"I'm sorry Pamji, Simji, Lavanyaji. Actually, sorry everyoneji," said Khushi, deciding a single common apology would do, since it was not going to be accepted anyway.
"Whatever Khushi! Are your gotis ready?" asked Lavanya examining her nails as she spoke.
"Gotis nahin Lavanyaji, gotas! Gotis are what kids play with it. Gotas are my'" Khushi's voice trailed off as she realized they weren't listening. She fished out the bikinis that she'd already worked on at home and handed them to a couple of girls to try. Most of them had hated the idea. And they definitely didn't like her. She was everything they looked down upon. A small town girl from Lucknow who didn't speak fluent English, dressed modestly, kept talking to Devi Maiyya on the side and even had her song as a ringtone. They thought she was down market.
What annoyed them even more was her chirpiness, her never-say-die attitude and her rather quirky sense of humor. Also, their thinly veiled barbs seemed to not pierce her armor at all. She went about her work with quiet efficiency, trying to understand their wants and accommodating them best as she could. She'd tried her best to explain that gota embroidery didn't make anyone look fat. But some of the girls examined their non-existent cellulite, and invisible belly fat and said her gota work brought them out. She would sigh inwardly, keep a pleasant smile pinned to her face and try something different.
6 hours later
"Khushi, where's my wrap?"
"Khushi, my top has a bead falling off!"
"Khushi, the golden thread makes me look dark! I hate it!"
"Khushi, why does my suit have the triangle border and hers have the temple? You know I liked the temple better!"
"Khushi! Khushi! Khushi!"
Khushi ran around the green room like a chicken with its head cut off, a needle and thread stuck between her teeth, several pieces of embroidered gota work draped around her shoulders, her hair askew, looking thoroughly harassed. The girls were on in 5 minutes and they were driving her crazy.
"Lavanyaji, if only you'd stand still for a minute, I could fix the slight rip. Please!" Khushi practically begged, as Lavanya fidgeted around, not giving her 2 minutes to fix her suit.
"Khushi! In 5 minutes, thousands of people are going to see 90% of me bare, naked. Can you blame me if I'm nervous?" asked Lavanya, trying desperately to not bite her nails.
"Of course not Lavanyaji! But there's no need to be nervous, you look lovely. Just give me a moment now," said Khushi getting to work. 2 minutes later Lavanya was done and ready to sashay onto the ramp. Pam and Sim were after her. Pam beckoned Khushi over and asked her to make sure all was well with her outfit. Khushi was just looking her over as they started to walk into the wings and closer to the stage. She found a small kink and was smoothing it out when Pam flung a hand out.
"No time now. I'm on next," Pam hissed furiously.
"Just one moment Pamji'" Khushi never finished the sentence as Pam shoved her away forcefully.
A silent shriek emerged from Khushi's mouth as she lunged across the stage and into the spotlight, right in front of the judges. She froze as the audience gasped. The guy hosting the show looked at her incredulously. Her mouth opened in a perfect 'O' and she clasped her hands over it, shutting her eyes tight, hoping it would all go away.
"Uhhmm..it seems we have a new, and err...unexpected entry!" said Aman Mehra nervously. It was the middle of the swimsuit round of the Miss India 2012 competition. It was his first time hosting it. He was surrounded by a bevy of bikini clad ladies. It ought to have been one of the finer moments of his life. Instead, some behenji type girl in a garish green and pink salwar suit, with Palika Bazaar jhumkis hanging from her ears and oiled, flat hair hanging down her back in a long braid was ruining it. He didn't know what to do. He decided to go with what came naturally to him. Being an asshole.
"Miss...er...let's call you Chamkili, since you're so shiny! Miss Chamkili, where is your swimsuit? This is the swimsuit round, you do know that?" he thrust the mike into her face.
Khushi threw him a panic-stricken look. She tried to move away from the spotlight and into the wings, but he wouldn't let her go. He grabbed an arm as she rushed past him. She wrenched her arm away from him and tripped on her golden dupatta as she did it. Before she knew it she had fallen from the stage. She shut her eyes, waiting to hit the ground, anticipating the pain.
It never came. 2 warm hands closed around her in an embrace as she fell. Her eyes flew open, as her arms automatically went around his neck, holding on for dear life. A pair of unsmiling light brown eyes stared back into her scared face.
"I guess they were right. Bhagwan jab deta hai, toh chappar phaad ke deta hai!" said the deep, smooth voice that belonged to Arnav Singh Raizada, as he smiled mockingly at Khushi Kumari Gupta.
Ok folks! That's that. Have at it.
Do tell us if you liked the idea and the story.
Click here for Chapter 2
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