I kept looking at the pleasant and pretty young lady who hugged me warmly and walked on, but still couldn’t be sure who she was. At the sight of Ummi walking towards me, her trademark broad smile in place, I quickly asked.
‘Who is she?’
‘Who is who Mummy? I don’t know who you are talking about.’ She answered, looking to her left and right in the crowded graduation hall of her school.
‘Over there’, I pointed to my right ‘that girl walking away just hugged and greeted me with great familiarity, she even called me Mummy but I just can’t place her face anywhere.’ I replied.
‘You mean the one with the green dress under her academic gown? That’s my friend Fatima. How can you forget her Mummy? We’ve been together since our first year in medical college.’ Ummi protested jokingly
‘No that can’t be your friend Fatima. I mean I know her very well. The one that greeted me is so much fairer she can pass for a mixed race.’ I insisted.
‘Mummy, don’t you mean that one?’ She pointed above the sea of heads to the young lady I was referring to, who had now climbed the dais where they had earlier been awarded their degrees by members of the University governing council, and was posing for a photo shoot.
‘Yes, she’s the one.’ I affirmed.
‘Well I assure you that that’s Fatima. I can call her down here for you to confirm.’ Ummi offered.
‘No there’s no need, if you are sure she’s the one. But what happened to her? I mean I don’t remember her being so much lighter than you are but look at her today. I hope she’s not into bleaching. Though as a trained medical doctor I do not expect her to be that foolhardy.’ I observed.
‘No she’s not into any kind of bleaching Mummy. It’s just the make-up. She used a kind of foundation that gave her this translucent glow.’ Ummi explained.
‘But you used a powder as well, it’s obvious from your own fairer skin tone, yet that didn’t change you to someone unrecognizable.’ I argued.
‘Yes that’s because I asked the make-up artist to make mine light. People who opt for heavy make-up usually end up transformed. And they tend to look almost completely different from their original selves.’ She stated.
‘But what’s the use of that? I mean one makes up to look better but when one ends up looking so different that people who know you can’t even recognize you, what has one achieved? I actually had no idea that you used a make up artist too. I know that back home most brides opt for professional make up rather than the home made type we did in our days but must you do the same for every little event?’ I demanded.
‘Graduation isn’t a little event Mummy,’ Ummi countered with a smile, ‘that’s why we indulge our selves a little, since it’s a day to treasure and remember for the rest of our lives.’ She added
‘I hope you’ve heard about the horror stories that visit many newlyweds as a result of this professional but make-up? Believe me some grooms get so disappointed after seeing their brides in their natural look that it has caused a lot of heartache for both parties. Personally I don’t believe going out of your way to buy a new look, during your wedding, is a good idea because what this man saw and fell for was the original you. Why should you think that you can impress him but looking different?’ I queried.
‘I think it’s our penchant for doing something just because others are doing it’ Maryam, who had just returned to my side, after moving away to answer a phone call, chipped in.
‘I mean we used to do our bridal make up ourselves, at most with the assistance of sisters and friends and no groom ever complained; certainly none ever rejected his bride because he preferred the Barbie doll he saw at the wedding, to the real girl he courted and married.’ She disclosed.
‘Yes, Maryam please tell her more. I’m truly glad you were able to join us for this graduation, like you promised. Now you’ll also let Ummi and her friends know that there is nothing great about this modern make up that alters their natural looks and makes them resemble Japanese geishas. Make her understand, so she can tell her friends that there’s nothing better than natural beauty. At least that way we will be sure to recognize them at their weddings and there won’t be any tales of unhappy grooms’. I urged.
‘Thats right Bint. But do you know what bothers me more? These days it’s not even the educated and enlightened ones, like Ummi, who get me worried over their use or abuse of make-up. It is the poor girl hawkers who line streets of our major cities that worry me. I mean with someone like Ummi, the make-up is an occasional thing, done only during important events like marriages, namings and graduations. But these girl hawkers use heavy make up everyday, not minding what they are exposing themselves to.’ She concluded.
‘So you really mean this? That girl hawkers actually use make up? What for, when they trek the whole day in dirt and dust? And how do they afford them?’ I asked
‘Maybe they think it gives them the look that attracts suitors. And there are very cheap ones too, made in China. But whatever their reason, what I see when I look at them is how horrific they look with their widely applied lipsticks and eye shadows. And the horror of it all is that they have no idea of the effect of these dangerous chemical on their human system.’ Maryam observed.
‘This means we will have to start immediate enlightenment campaigns aimed at discouraging these girls from indiscriminate use of artificial make ups. It’s like Anti Maryam said we have no idea of the damage they can do to them because of over use.’ Ummi suggested.