First Makeup Experience: Impact of Childhood Experiences across Time and Space

Vividness of childhood experiences and the distance it travels across time and space. As I am going through the letters, papers and other documents of my parents dating back to the days before their marriage (1940s, they married in 1951), I come across the clues to their personality that I observed during 1966-2003, time of my conscious interactions with them till before their death. An FB post reminded me of a page from my mother’s diary where she writes about an incident when she was around 10 or 12 ( 1946-47) about makeup.

بارہ تیرا سال کی عمر تھی- بھائی صاحب[ شاہ فریدالرحمان] بمبئ سے اینگلوانڈین بیوی مسلمان کر کے لائے تھے- وہ میک اپ کرتی تھیں- دیکھا دیکھی خود بھی شوق ہوا- ہلکا ہلکا پوڈر اور لپ اسٹک لگانا شروع کیا-
اور تو سب دیکھتے ہی تھے- والد مرحوم بہت غور سے دیکھتے تھے- ہم خوش کہ ابا بہت پسند کر رہے ہیں، ہم کتنے خوبصورت معلوم ہوتے ہیں-لیکن کچھ تھا- کوئی چیز کوئی خیال جو عجیب قسم کی گھبراہٹ، ڈر اور شرم بھی محسوس ہوتی – دل چاہتا کہ ابا کے سامنے نہ جائیں- تیسرے یو چوتھے دن ابا مرحوم نے فرمایا، بیٹی یہاں آؤ- جان نکل گئی- ابا آگے آگے اور ہم پیچھے پیچھے- کمرہ میں قالین پر لے کر بیٹھ گئے- کچھ دیر صورت دیکھتے رہے – بڑے درد سے یہ پڑھا 
نہیں حاجت اسے زیور کی جسے خوبی خدا نے دی
اپنے میں خوبی پیدا کرو- کام پیارا ہوتا ہے صورت نہیں- جو حسن اور خوبصورتی سیرت سے.[ذندگی میں پیدا ہوتی ہے وہ زیور اور سولہ سنگھار سے نہیں ]…….( اگلا صفحہ نہ مل سکا)

 [This is the page from my mother’s diary. Unfortunately the next page is missing. Written around early 1965 when my mother was in her 30s with 4 kids]. 

She recalls the bhabhi of her elder brother who had married an Anglo-Indian. Bhabhi used to do makeup and my mother then 10 put up her first makeup with lipstick. Her father noted that a couple of times and she was feeling apprehensive, then a few days later her father asked her to come to his room and sat down with her on the carpet and gave her advice which ended with this
نہیں محتاج زیور کا جسے خوبی خدا نے دی-

Then partition happened, and my mother and her siblings and my Nani migrated with nothing. My Nana died soon after and my mother n family till 1950s were hand to mouth. My mother and khalas used to have just a couple of clothes. One was being washed while the other was being worn. Even after marriage my mother with my father had meager resources. Never had the luxury of “makeup”. Once in early 1970s my mother showed me the makeup set still within the original box with empty bottles in velvety receptacles that she got as a marriage present. I recall it was of “Evening in Paris” with beautiful case and beautiful blue glass bottles, and containers. Note plastic utensils were not used then. She had gotten it as a present after marriage in 1951.  I think that was the only luxury she had. I never saw my mother putting up makeup, and never saw her complaining about anything that she did not have. She was deeply religious. We were lower middle class till 1980s. I heard several times my mother giving the same advice to my four sisters, individually at different times before their marriage, that she got from her father

نہیں محتاج زیور کا جسے خوبی خدا نے دی

Although I heard them complaining, putting forward the pleas that times have changed. And that my mother is not aware of the ways of the cities and of the new world. It is not like the old times of her days, etc. Twenty years have passed since my mother’s death. I saw my four sisters who all are now in the upper middle class to upper-class strata, transmitting the same values and same advice to their daughters before their marriage and now their daughters’ daughters who are getting to the marriageable ages.

I also got this same advice from my mother when I was a child and wanted some new expensive shoes. I have transmitted it to my children too!

How impressionable is the child and how is the legacy of such experiences transmitted through generations?

May Allah give my parents the best of abodes in the hereafter. Aameen.


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