When I was 13 I met my cousin sister Ibechaubi for the first time. At age 14 she was the epitome of beauty for me. She had long lustrous hair, slim and slender figure. Her skin was flawless; fair complexion complimented with sparkling black eyes. She was a living example of beauty with a smile which could capture anyone’s heart.
One day in 1948, it was late morning the weather in Imphal being always pleasant grandmother took us to a relative’s house for a lunch celebration. We had to walk as there was no transportation those days. Ibechaubi stayed the night before at our house so that we could go together for the lunch.
We walked on the road along with grandmother from Keishampat to Sagolband passing through Wahengbam Leikai. We were stopped many a time on the way by the passersby to ask my grandmother whose daughter she was, pointing at my cousin.
I felt like a discarded rag doll walking beside her. No one asked about me. I was skinny with bad skin. I was also mesmerized by her beauty, but I was proud of myself. I went to school which was very rare those days. I wanted to have a future career not just get married and settle down.
I should say my cousin Ibechaubi was created by the Almighty with meticulous care with His own hand. When she got married her mother-in-law was very proud of her daughter-in-law’s beauty and openly admired her. It was a rare relationship of a mother- in-law with her daughter-in-law. An unexpected turn took her away from this earthly abode during her second child birth. Her mother-in-law was in such a shock at her death, it took a year for her to recover.
When I look at my life and compare with my cousin’s who never went to school, I was the fortunate one even though I did not have her beauty. I had gone to school and graduated, developed many other skills with my studies. Her beauty had gone buried with her death. I still wonder what is so special about physical beauty.