“Today let’s play mother-daughter”
“Can I be the mother this time?”
“No. I’m older”
Sunday afternoons. 10 year old Ahalya and her little sister would play mother-daughter. Ahalya would dress her up, comb her hair, walk her to school and correct her homework. Sometimes, there would be an occasion. She would dress her up for weddings, cocktail parties and beauty pageants.
That afternoon, the prince had invited Arya to the royal ball. There was so much to be done. “Sit still Arya!” Ahalya scolded as she shakily ran Ma’s lipstick across her sister’s lips before running back to her room to return it. She put it back on Amma’s dresser, finding reassurance in her soft snores as she tiptoed her way out of the room.
“Did Ma wake up?” Arya asked nervously, as Ahalya shut the door behind her. “No, I was very quiet.” She said, grabbing her sister’s arm. “Get up, you need to get dressed. The prince will be here soon.” Ahalya declared, throwing the doors of their wardrobe open.
“Which one do you want to wear? Blue or pink? Pink is my favourite colour.” Ahalya said. Arya spent a minute running her fingers along the frills of the dress, feeling its soft satiny texture between her fingers. Ahalya knew she was only pretending to think.
“Pink” Arya said. “It’s my favourite colour too”.
Ahalya helped her get dressed, holding the dress up as she slipped her arms into the sleeves. “Here. Wear these shoes.” she told her as she tied a bow around the back of her dress. Arya was ready for the ball. “When will he get here?” she asked impatiently, straightening out her dress with her palms.
“Did you hear that? I think it’s the prince!” Ahalya said, pointing to the door. Arya sprung up “Quick! Give me my tiara!” Ahalya gently put the tiara onto the head. “You look like a real princess!” Ahalya squealed, as Arya twirled around, letting her dress spread itself out around her.
“Go! He’s waiting! Remember to curtsey when you meet him” Ahalya called out after her sister as she walked towards the door.
On Sunday afternoons, 10 year old Ahalya’s baby sister wasn’t blind. She could not hear tongues clicking in sympathy when the relatives came home, she didn’t feel the silent, heavy air at the doctor’s waiting room, she forgot the sound of Amma’s soft sobs when she gave her a bath.
Sunday afternoons, time would fly. The rest of the family lay deep in their afternoon naps, oblivious that every weekend, two young sisters fell in love, fought dragons, and travelled to lands far far away, in the privacy of their little room. Armed with endless possibilities, dressed in their finest, their eyes twinkling brighter than their tiaras.