Stories Apne Apne by Raj Deepali Pandey

(Dedicated to all beautiful girls for whom the kohl is not just a cosmetic, it’s a way of life.)

She sat before the mirror, lost and disappointed, with an empty kohl pencil in her hand, the broken black tip of which was lying near her feet, smudging the white tiles of the floor, though not as elegantly as it darkened her eyes.


That broken piece of kohl gave her more pangs than any disloyal man could ever give. She was getting late for her classes, but stepping out of the house without the tint of black on the edges of her eyes…well it was a nightmare for her. 

        Kohl was to her eyes what love is to one’s life. One can live without love, but such life would be devoid of any meaning, purpose, or beauty. Love can come from someone else, or it can be even self- love that makes life worth living.

Just the same way, ever since she started defining the boundaries of her eyes with jet black kohl, she could not have imagined a single day without the kohl, as without those dark linings her eyes would look like that of a sick Victorian child.


Now before the world labels her a psychopath makeup freak, it should be reminded that she was just another girl who would rather spend her limited pocket money for treating her taste buds with all sorts of spicy junk foods, rather than squandering it on the products which would hide her real face beneath its superficial layers. A girl who cannot tell the difference between a concealer, foundation and a bronzer. But kohl was not just another means of intensifying her ravishing eyes. It was a friend, a saviour, a confidante, who concealed all her emotions and kept them safe beneath its majestic black boundaries. 

   The dark circles that she developed on account of the sleepless nights, the tears which were dried, yet left behind their unquestionable existence in her swollen eyes, then it was her kohl that protected her from the inquisitive nature of the world.

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When she stayed awake whole night before her exams, half- studying and half- worried, because studying the whole year was not her cup of tea, her kajal saved her from the “Your eyes say you are going to be the topper of this semester” taunts, “you must have mugged it up all please explain this answer to me” requests. Her kohl conveyed the message to her peers that she was not the scholarly saviour they were looking for to clear their doubts.


When she had a fight with her boyfriend who would consequently switch off his phone and sleep peacefully, leaving her in tears, waiting for that one call the whole night which never came, the kohl helped her look like a happy, pretty and confident lady, the swelling and the dark circles totally outshined by the elegant black lining, and those smoky, sultry, slaying eyes were ready to face the world with a playful deception.

     The nights of horror, when depression reached its peak, sobs became uncontrollable, missing the people who have left, or the fear of losing ones who are there, the paranoid thoughts, and everything that was enough to snatch away the peaceful sleep from her eyes….in spite of the night of emotional turmoil, she seemed to be the chirpiest girl next morning with the kohl in her eyes and smile on her face. 

      But what could be worse than the day when she was really happy and had her share of sleep the previous night, but decided to go natural for a day and skipped the kajal. Everyone around her seemed to be her well wisher now. “Are you unwell? Is anything wrong? You seem perturbed, you can tell me I’ll help you,”… such questions thrown at her made her digest the belief that now the blackened edges of her eyes would depict her state of mind. Her eyes seemed pensive without their black mate. In such a situation, how was she not to mourn the destruction of her dear kohl? How would she step out of the house without her saviour and the shield?

     Suddenly, she got up, reached for her phone, and called her best friend. “Hey! Have you left for the college? Oh great, can you please bring your kohl pencil today, mine is broken? Okay see you.” She kept the phone, and heaved a sigh of relief, and left the house.