A pretty little round tin box in red and yellow. The logo of a temple gopuram printed on it in black.
Fine powder in a beautiful rich red colour.
A divine smell that makes me want to fill the kumkum up in my forehead parting immediately.
A feeling of peace that touches some corner deep in my heart.
Priceless memories of Patti making a perfect circle on her forehead using the kumkum, and a bit of wax, every evening after washing her face with soap and a generous application of Ponds talcum powder.
Memories of boxes of the kumkum arriving at our house via courier, all the way from Madras, from a much-loved grand aunt who is no more.
Sweet childhood memories of dressing up, of draping Amma‘s silk sarees and applying big bindis and pretending to be all grown-up.
Bittersweet memories of an adolescent me wanting to get married so that I could use the kumkum every day, too.
A little bit of Madras that I can carry with me all the way to Bangalore.
A little something that invokes in me the feeling of having reached home, the home of years ago.
It is interesting, the memories and emotions that are triggered by something you come across accidentally in a departmental store. Something that you haven’t seen in years. Sometimes, memories that you didn’t even know you had registered, and emotions that you didn’t even know you had in you.
When I get all of these memories and emotions for a princely sum of Rs. 15, the question of whether to buy it or not is a no-brainer. Of course, I had to get a box bagged and billed, as a souvenir.
The mater and I are on a short trip to Madras (I can’t get my head around calling it ‘ Chennai’!). This is more of a family trip than a sight-seeing one, one without lists and agendas. I am taking in the sights and sounds and smells of Madras as and when they decide to come to me, and it has been beautiful so far. This particular experience with the Gopuram Kumkum happened this morning, and it left me touched the entire day. I can’t wait to find out what the rest of the trip has in store for me!