For years Amla would agonize over a scar on my sister’s forehead. Duplicating my aerial feat, Lhamu trips in mid air, falling like a drunk on the edge of a bed. Blood splatters and her cries summons a mother in her tigress avatar.
I, too, have scars but they never seem to bother my mother. Cuts and nicks on my knees and elbows, some the size of coins, and others embedded like fossils under thighs and forearms. But the one I flaunt like a tattoo runs diagonal over my eyebrow. For a boy of eight it came with unexpected benefits; eliciting a certain reverence lending itself to a dark, brooding image. I was quite unsure if it was good or bad. ‘Cool’ hadn’t quite entered this kid’s lexicon yet.
‘A girl’s face is her fortune.’ Amla did not utter these words, but she didn't have to. She died too young to live out her anxieties. Would Lhamu's suitors, pursuing their separate affections, be acutely aware of her scar? Would catty match-making aunts visiting a prospective bride slip in snide remarks between cups of tea? Or would Lhamu charm them all, cleverly hiding her silver stitch?
I remember on so many such days Amla would gaze far beyond her dressing mirror, combing my sister’s hair, running her fingers absently over the protrusion as if each stroke would somehow erase the bristles of this shining, sleeping, breathing pain.
Note: amla- mother in Bhutia and Tibetan