She was hardly seven years old. The audition for the school play was on. She wanted to be the princess. She rehearsed the lines again and again. She practiced. She spoke well. She was waiting for the results, praying hard to God.
A fair, slim, tall, girl with chiseled features who forgot the lines got selected.
“The princess should be beautiful. We will make her work hard and learn the lines.” Said the teacher. “That short girl, who recited the lines well , she could be the maid. In fact, another girl from section C also looks like her. Short and chubby. Those two could be the maids. Where did she go?”
The short girl had left….. She did not want to be the maid. She wanted to be the princess.
If only she knew, that it did not matter. She could have still participated and showed her talent…..
“What happened? This time seems you have played too much in the sun!! You have become so dark! Now stay indoors till you gain back some colour! Otherwise no one will marry you!”
It was a random comment by a random stranger. It should not have mattered. But that is the day she stopped playing volleyball.
If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have played.
“Eww! Your face looks so messed-up” said the class bully.
Everybody smiled for the year-book picture. She did not. She had braces. People had started saying she had an attitude. She was not able to make friends. She was arrogant! But she was not! She was just a girl very conscious of her smile!
If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have smiled…
She was a big girl now! She could now wear a proper suit with a dupatta. Short kurtas were in. She had selected her own style and got her suit stitched. She was all dressed up to visit the puja pandal.
“How do I look Maa!”
“Short! In Jeans, you don’t look so short. Wear heels!”
Few minutes later, the mother came back to check on her. The suit was wrapped and thrown in one corner. She was lying with her head down.
“What happened. We have to leave in 10 minutes!”
“I am having a stomach ache!”
If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have gone…
“Rohit really likes you. Yesterday also he was trying to invite you to his party after class.”
“Why would the most good-looking guy in college be interested in ME!!”
The next day she saw Rohit talking to the prettiest girl in college.
He is probably not interested in me. He just invited me because my friends are invited. She convinced herself and skipped the party.
If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have gone….
The team was planning a trip to Europe. She wanted to go. But she hardly had any friends. She would feel lonely. She would not fit in. There were all shopping. She did not want to buy so many clothes. Nothing would fit her well anyway. She would not look good in the pictures which they upload every few minutes. She decided to stay.
If only she knew, it did not matter. She could have gone.
She is 33 now. She has finally become comfortable with herself. She does not care how she looks. She does not care what people say. She does not care who wants to be with her who does not. She does what SHE wants to do. She is living her life…But can she go back in time? She could have been so much more, in school, in college, at work, in her relationships, in her social circles!
Had she taken part in the play, her performance would have impressed so many. She would have participated in so many more…
Had she smiled more in the pictures, she could have probably appeared friendlier. She would have made so many friends…
She could have gone to the pandal. You don’t have to be tall to go to places…
She could have attended Rohit’s party. If only she had given him a chance, maybe he would have got to know what a caring, sensible person she was…
She could have travelled the world. And she could have conquered it!
The little things we say to people about their looks in their childhood and teenage years, scars them. It affects their self-esteem, and confidence. It weakens their growth. It prevents them from attaining their full potential. It stops them from becoming someone.
Before we tell someone, they are dark, short, fat, thin, tall, remember it is not kind, it is not necessary and it may not even be true. Even if it is true, we have no business making a shallow remark. Nobody’s appearance is our business. And if someone is growing fat, we are not doing them a favour by letting them know so they can reduce weight! We can keep the concern to ourselves!
I have a nine-year-old niece. My sister recently told me that she along with other parents from school take their kids to a pediatrician who counsels them on the kids’ diet and nutrition. This Delhi based doctor addresses the 9-13 year old girls who put on weight as “Auntyji” so that they lose weight.
I also remember a time, when I was in school and I was leaving my house with my dad. I met a neighbor who greeted me as “Are badi kali ho gayi hai tu!” No hi, no hello, no how are you, what are you doing, simply kali ho gayi hai tu!!
We have such moronic people in our country. We may ignore them. But it will still hurt the child. Let us ask them to not make such remarks. Tell them it does not matter and that you would not like your child to hear such things. It is okay to say that. It is okay to react for the sake of your child.
If they are so keen to tell the “truth” you could too!
© 2017, Tanvi Sinha. All rights reserved.