“Oh wowwwwwww, Ravi. You totally look like a girl.” His best friend sounded ecstatic. Ravi aka Raveena had recently discovered the glorious world of cross dressing and suddenly sky was the limit. Not that Ravi Identified as a woman or even female but there was something about “ladies clothes” that made him feel more alive than ever before. His persona changed every time he visited seedy-looking, cheap shops on Bandra link road to pick up clothes and chunky accessories. “Par ye tho ladis hai” baffled shopkeepers would ask. “Pata hai!” Ravi would retort “Didi ka budday aa raha hai. Usko gift dena hai”. And then, their demeanours would instantly change. He would transform in their eyes from the lanky, effeminate, eighteen year old to a loving, doting brother out to buy gifts for his sister.
“You know, you are so talented with all of this make up- schmake-up” his best friend would often compliment him. “You should do this more often. In fact, we should dress up and go to a party just like this!” While the words sounded like music to Ravi’s ears, there were logistic issues. Gay parties were organized on weekends and were generally at a time past their curfew. And these were the least of their worries. Parties often came in with hefty entry fees, way outside their budget. Further, where would they cross-dress? Definitely not at home – they’d get skinned alive like they almost did when Ravi’s mother found a crop top in his closet. He had gotten away by saying that it belonged to his girlfriend; his mother had audibly sighed in relief thanking the Almighty interpreting her find as a sign that her dainty son might be straight after all. So all they did was build sand castles in air around imaginary parties with them being the centre of attention, particularly Ravi(eena) in his beautiful dress and ufff make up.
And just like that, an opportunity came by. Ravi’s parents planned a trip to a distant town on a weekend that a top notch gay party was announced. As if the Universe wasn’t being gracious enough, his parents also left some money with him for any “emergency” that might arise in their absence and hinted that he could order food in too if he wished. The best friend was immediately informed and advised to seek due permissions from his folks for a night over at Ravi’s home. With the foolproof planning and parents safely out of the way, they both would attend the party in cross dress. For practical reasons, they decided to change into cross-dress once at the venue hopefully in one of the restrooms.
The big day soon arrived. Ravi’s parents left and best friend came over. Their excitement knew no bounds as the hours ticked and finally it was time for Cinderella and Cinderella II to hit the party. The paid their way in early at the door and got the chic venue logo stamped on their wrist. Before they could hit the dance floor, they made a quick detour to the men’s room and locked themselves in a cubicle. Out came the flashy ghagra with a low cut choli. Ravi’s best friend chickened out and decided to go demure with just a bit of “pancake, eyeliner and lipstick”. But there was nothing stopping Ravi as he transformed into Raveena. The ghagra went over the bloomers, silicon pads into the choli cups, and layer after layer caked his face. His best friend ohhed and aahhhed at how gorgeous Raveena looked. And finally, it was the moment of truth. Raveena walked out, head held like a Diva, and strutted to the dance floor breaking into some beautiful twirls that would have put the classiest courtesan of bygone Lucknow eras to shame. The Western music was a tad hard to keep up to but Raveena managed just fine. Until, a hand came in and broke the reverie.
“Umm sir, this outfit isn’t allowed here”. The bouncer looked like trouble. Ravi(eena) looked at him blank for a moment. “This is a gay party, right?” his best friend interjected. “Yes” the bouncer responded “but we have strict orders from the organizers that anything cheap should be asked to leave. They feel your outfit is not appropriate.” “But … isn’t it beautiful?” the words finally tumbled out. His best friend too looked aghast. “This is not the right place for this kind of outfit. This is a classy place and the other guests are feeling uncomfortable.” “But.. we’ve paid for our entry” his best friend stammered. “As has everyone else. You weren’t dressed like this at the entry. Or else, you wouldn’t be allowed inside. You either have to change your outfit or leave the party. Please follow me out.” The bouncer’s grip tightened on Ravi(eena)’s arm and he started to walk away pulling the two with him as he went. The other guests watched some mildly bemused, others openly relieved as the “riff raff” was dragged away.
The bouncer dropped them like hot potatoes once outside the party hall leaving them to make a choice. The two said not a word and proceeded to the men’s room. The water tap was turned on to max force followed by fervent splashes of water on the faces. “Ravi, you looked gorgeous. Don’t listen to them”… pleaded his best friend. No response, more water splashed. “Arrey, these high profile people don’t’ know how to appreciate your talent. We’ll do it somewhere else.” The splashing continued. The dark mascara streaked over and formed a black puddle in the sink. Ravi watched as the water in the wash basin receded. His eyes stung from the onslaught that the water had inflicted on hitting his face. The water splashes had drained away the make-up and camouflaged the tears. If only the water could dissolve and take away the shame and hurt that was left behind.