The Medley

is a twice-a-year literary journal run by the students of Hansraj College, University of Delhi. It is a repository of stories, poems and essays sent to us from around the world since 2018.

My Mother’s Kajal

She brings the lipstick close to her lips, her lipstick becomes more wrinkles adjacent to the lips than lips, her hands tremble as she picks up the kajal.

The back of its plastic case has no specific instructions for women with trembling hands, the guidelines have no asterisks suggesting doting mothers whose visible nail and hair fat has suctioned their husbands away into young, petite, hard-bodied hands, which hold on to the kajal more tightly.

The instructions are nothing more than mere mathematical axioms, old worn-out corollaries for the Diamond-Skinned, Glass-Eyed, Extra Supermodel Goddesses with unflawed DNA for ages.

It has no FYIs to caution that these kajals have a very small half-life, that a simple well-directed splash of water will wash away the momentary charm which the popcorn-chewing husband has prioritised over the thrill of Indian Idol, over the thrill of So You Really Absolutely Wholeheartedly Genuinely Realistically Believe You Can Dance, over the thrill of Shahi Paneer, over the thrill of Tuborg 500.

The instructions provide no premonitions of the recurrence of the knife-scrawled blisters that the cactus-mouthed mother-in-law will happily gift her after the cessation of the blackness of her eyes The guidelines show no other trembling hands, no other distress-signalled breasts, reaching out to get them away from mirrors, away from lipsticks, away from kajals, away from their husbands and be individual Estuaries, Lakes, Rivers, Oceans, Cyclones, Thunderstorms, Apocalypses.

My mother still with trembling hands, like an amateur magician who has not perfected her tricks, misdirects her bangles, lockets, lipsticks, and asks me, “Son, how do I look?” and I with a smile tell her that she looks like the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, like every other mother, like every other woman.

Kajal: Kohl or Mascara Shahi Paneer: An Indian snack made from cottage cheese Tuborg 500: Popular beer brand in India

Mayank Manchanda

Mayank Manchanda is an undergraduate student pursuing English Literature from Shaheed Bhagat Singh College. He believes that poetry should never be a personal endeavor and should be used as an empathetic tool to highlight the lives of the less fortunate rungs of society. He is soon to be published in the prestigious All India anthology by Delhi Poetry Slam and has been fortunate enough to win creative writing and spoken word events at the prestigious colleges of the University of Delhi.