"It'll be over before you know it," they assured her as she sat there, without blinking.
Maasi came ahead with beads in one hand and a sharpened blade in the other, like a devi in her avatar. She smeared some ash on Leela's forehead and continued to dust her scalp with more granules of burnt wood and sand. With a few crisp wrist movements in the opposite direction, the curtain of hair dropped to the floor. Maasi splattered a cup of sandalwood paste to soothe the bruises and puffy hair follicles on that unprotected skull.
It took a while to get accustomed to her new demeanor. The sharp jawline suddenly opened into a wide barren forehead, like a delta melting into the expansive ocean. Her tired eyes had lost its soul.
All that was left of the hexagonal diamond pin was a little perforation on her nose.
Her voice trailed out, hardly leaving her trembling lips.