My birthday was two days after I arrived. Prem and Meena had arranged for their sister-in-law to come over on my birthday and sew me a salwar kameez. Most people in this area just call it a suit.
Maalka took my measurements and, without writing a single one of them down, began cutting the material without any pattern to guide her. She’s not just a sister-in-law, she’s a seamstress and has done this many, many times.
It was cold downstairs, so she soon moved to the roof to complete her work.
This was a very special birthday for me. I’d never had anyone order me tailor made clothes before, much less gotten to watch them being made.
She worked all day, always with a smile on her pretty face.
At the end of the day, the suit was done. Meena put a bindi on my forehead and proclaimed me an Indian woman.
While the suit was being made, the family decorated my room. They had ordered a birthday cake with a candle that looked like a rocket ship. When I cut the cake, the knife sang “Happy Birthday to You!” in a weird, mechanical voice. Hilarious!
It was a birthday I’ll never forget.