The other day, I was rummaging through my makeup bag looking for my pink lipstick. It was one of my favourite ones.. it was a lovely pink almost peachy but not too pinky, just dark enough to add a glisten and a sparkle to my lips and make me feel ready for the evening out.. I had gotten ready in time and this was the last scene of my one woman lets get ready show, and I was just not able to find it.. The moment of pure success and achievement had turned into one of sweat building annoyance all in just a few minutes.. No matter how many times I looked and everywhere that I looked I couldn’t find my pink lipstick! “Why don’t you just wear another one?” my hubby consoled me, but what he didn’t get and I wasn’t going to be able to explain was that it wasn’t just ‘a ‘pink lipstick, but it was “the” pink lipstick which completed my ensemble for the evening! Any hoo, the focus of my story is not that evening.. so Im gonna let it go..
Having lost my perfect not very dressy but a evening out pink lipstick, I decided to get myself a new tube and with that thought I set out to the store… But my story isn’t about that either so let me say very simply that I managed to find the perfect not very pink, definitely not teenagey bright pink, not the first clear pink tube for start up make up wearers but the pinky peachy sparkly not matte lipstick for evenings out… perfect for moi..
As I was returning from my very productive shopping day.. I happened to sit across an elderly lady on the bus.. she had a a fair few bags with her and she was travelling with her husband. Both of them were well dressed, with accessories matching their outfits, their sun hats and walking sticks neatly kept on the railing next to their seats. I was admiring their spirit and their energy to be so well dressed on a stifling hot afternoon when in comparison their younger traveling companions were wearing light cotton t-shirts and shorts.
I noticed that the lady was wearing a lovely pink lipstick quite similar to the one I had lost and now had bought for myself and my immediate thought took me to my grandma back home in India, siting on her couch by the bed possibly reading or knitting or watching TV, an elderly woman of the similar age (as the lady sitting across from me on the bus) who I remembered distinctly never having worn lipstick in her elderly years on any occasion ever!!!!.. Infact I remember her telling me that people would laugh at her for even thinking of wearing lipstick at this age. The elderly lady sitting across me on the Brisbane bus would have equal strong opinions but of the exact opposite nature. She would have chosen that very shade to wear as it would have perfectly matched her outfit and the occasion. The pink lipstick which was taboo for an elderly lady in India, was an expression of feminine beauty for her counterpart in Australia and I could safely say that both the ladies were no exceptions to their cultural kind.
This thought stayed with me throughout the ride and It humoured me to imagine if the tube of pink lipstick could be personified then what drastic life styles she would lead in different countries and cultures. In India, the pink lipstick was symbolic of teenage and youth and liveliness; while down under, she had many suitors.. she was symbolic not of age but of feminity in general and a girly sense of being. As I continued to humouring this thought of mine, I imagined what it would be like if my grandma were presented with a pink lipstick as a birthday gift, well since we are on the subject.. celebrating birthdays for elders was again not a common thing in India. Yes, the families met for lunch and maybe on the day there would be a special menu and sweets made for the birthday girl, but arranging for a birthday party was never really appreciated… So, hypothetically if my grandma was to be presented with a pink lipstick, she would probably just hand it back to the gift giver, admonishing them of teasing her and being so thoughtless.
I couldn’t help but question why things were so different in my culture and why before the end of life, life ends? A simple tube of pink lipstick is after all not just a cosmetic or a beauty accessory, but its symbolic of freedom, expression and in this case of youth and age.. Maybe the time has come for us to change the way we look at things and move from the answer “thats how it is” to the question “why not this way?”