It was that time of the year. The start of the new academic year was surrounded by the aroma of new books along with the excitement filled in children, only to leave in a couple of months.

Lakshay was suddenly crowned with the title of being an adult now, as he was preparing to start his tenth standard. Whatever he was feeling is hard to point to in the emotional spectrum. He was not nervous, not excited, just existing.

The next day commenced with vague sun rays caressing the beautiful patterns clouds formed themselves in. Lakshay was going to the market to buy new textbooks when he saw this girl wearing red, bold lipstick. ‘She looks like a dream’ he thought. Lakshay found himself in a state of enigma, where he couldn’t get that image out of his mind.

He rushed back home, literally sprinted, took out a red lipstick from his mother’s almirah, and put it on. His feet approached the mirror. He was suddenly moved to tears as soon as he saw the person in the mirror. It was as if for the first time in his life he could relate to the reflection he was seeing.

Lakshay’s state of awe went to ruins when his mom came into the room and started shouting at him, calling him a disgrace and what a shameful act he committed. He ran to the washroom, to get the mere fragments of pigment off him. The red lipstick failed to stick.


  1. Ritayan Bandyopadhyay

    “The Red Lipstick” presents a poignant and subtly nuanced exploration of gender identity within the confines of societal expectations. Through the protagonist, Lakshay, the Shruti Patel (author) delves into the complexities of self-discovery and the struggle to express one’s true identity.

    The story opens against the backdrop of a new academic year, symbolizing a period of transition and growth. Lakshay, on the cusp of adulthood, navigates a range of undefined emotions, neither fully nervous nor excited. This emotional ambiguity sets the stage for the exploration of Lakshay’s journey towards self-understanding.

    The introduction of the girl wearing bold red lipstick sparks a profound internal transformation in Lakshay. The author adeptly portrays his captivation with the girl’s appearance, which becomes a catalyst for questioning his own identity. Through this encounter, the story subtly examines the theme of gender identity, as Lakshay experiences a deep resonance with the reflection he sees while wearing the red lipstick.

    The use of red lipstick as a metaphor for self-expression and exploration of gender identity is powerfully evocative. It represents a departure from societal norms and expectations, offering Lakshay a glimpse into a truer version of himself. His tears upon seeing his reflection for the first time with the lipstick illustrate the emotional weight and significance of this self-realization, marking a pivotal moment in his journey of self-discovery.

    However, the story’s exploration of gender identity is met with conflict when Lakshay’s mother discovers him wearing the red lipstick. Her reaction of anger and calling him a disgrace highlights the challenges faced by individuals who deviate from societal norms. This encounter underscores the pressures placed on individuals to conform and the difficulty of expressing one’s authentic self when faced with such judgment.

    The conclusion of the story, where Lakshay hastily removes the lipstick, speaks volumes about the impact of societal expectations and the stifling effect they can have on personal identity. It serves as a poignant commentary on the struggle faced by many individuals as they navigate their own gender identity within a society that often fails to embrace diversity.

    “The Red Lipstick” serves as a subtle and thought-provoking exploration of gender identity and societal expectations. Patel’s delicate portrayal of Lakshay’s journey, along with the symbolism of the red lipstick, invites readers to reflect on the complexities of self-discovery and the challenges faced by those who defy traditional gender roles.

    While the story adeptly raises questions about gender identity, it would benefit from further development in exploring Lakshay’s inner turmoil and subsequent growth. A deeper exploration of his emotional journey and the impact of his experience could provide a more profound and satisfying resolution.

    In conclusion, in “The Red Lipstick”, Shruti Patel offers a sensitively rendered portrayal of gender identity and the struggle to reconcile personal expression with societal expectations. The story serves as a reminder of the courage required to embrace one’s authentic self and challenges readers to reflect on the importance of acceptance and inclusivity in our society.