A Colorful Character. . .
Pity the Beautiful by Dana Gioia
Pity the beautiful,
the dolls, and the dishes,
the babes with big daddies
granting their wishes.
Pity the pretty boys,
the hunks, and Apollos,
the golden lads whom
success always follows.
The hotties, the knock-outs,
the tens out of ten,
the drop-dead gorgeous,
the great leading men.
Pity the faded,
the bloated, the blowsy,
the paunchy Adonis
whose luck’s gone lousy.
Pity the gods,
no longer divine.
Pity the night
the stars lose their shine
It was always the rings I noticed on Lovely Auntie's hand. There was the huge diamond ring on her engagement finger. It could have been five or even ten carats. Had she told me that I would have believed it because it looked gigantic on her right hand.
Or maybe, it looked humongous because her fingers were short and stubby? That was my older sister, Gurpreet's unkind observation.
Then there was the emerald ring on her left hand. It winked and twinkled in the light from the overhead chandelier as Lovely Auntie looked at the deck of cards splayed in her hand. She curled her lip in annoyance.
"I'll pass on this set," she'd say with assumed delicacy like a mother would turn away from a child who'd been too naughty.
"Oh, Lovely, go ahead and play," the other aunties would try to coax her.
"No, no, I've decided." She'd toss her set of cards into the center of the table, turn to her Prada handbag and pull out her jewel-encrusted fan. Her doting husband had bought it for her from his recent business trip to Beijing.
Swish, swish, went the fan. Back and forth. Back and forth. Lovely Auntie ostentatiously swept the tendrils off her broad forehead in mock boredom.
Peeping from behind the heavy drapes lining the living room where my Mom's kitty party friends (see footnote) were assembled, I couldn't help be fascinated by the sapphire stone on her right pinky finger. The ring called to me like no other.
"They say it was given by her most-recent lover," whispered Gurpreet in my ear. "And the other ring, the small yellow diamond on her left pinky finger, that's from the lover she spurned." Sudha fluttered her lashes dramatically.
My eyes were agog at this salacious ditty. Lovers. How delicious that word sounded! How did one acquire the attentions of multiple men when I couldn't even get Raju from next door to look at me when I jogged past his house in my hot pink leotard and orange leggings?
I must have sighed aloud and heavily. Gurpreet, the ever-generous older sister, had a tip for me.
"Maybe if you acquire an ample bosom like Lovely Auntie you might have more luck with the neighborhood boys.'
"More push-ups and less jogging, Kamal dear."
Editor's note: Kitty parties are a part of Indian life for ladies of all levels of society. Each group pays so much a week into a kitty—it can be as little as $100 or $1000— and they take it in turns to host a party that will include lunch. It's a great way to save money, because at some point, everyone will arrive at your house, and you will get the pot for that month. Of course, it's also a great way to socialize or show your style. If the fattened Butter Chicken Punjabi Wedding was the theater of excess in Delhi earlier, now it is the designer kitty group!