When I was young(er), I used to obsess with my looks when I would be meeting a guy for the first time (or maybe first few times). It did not matter whether it was a date, or a meeting with someone for an arranged marriage. I would wear high heels trying my best to camouflage those 5 feet 2 inches. I would struggle with those curls, which made me look so unruly. I would ensure that my eyebrows were perfectly made, even if it meant running back to the parlour within a week.
If I would not hear back from the man (this kind of thing happened in the arranged set-up), I would analyze the things I said, what I ordered, what I wore and how much I ate. I would try to figure out what was it that didn’t work, (even if I myself had no interest in meeting that man any further).
Cut to few years later. I am on the verge of turning 30 and single.
My visits to the parlour are restricted to once in two – three months. I am more concerned about being regular at the gym.
Those eye brows – Oh they hurt like hell! My benchmark now is Krooh Singh to determine when they have grown too much.
Those heels – I can’t manage them for more than a couple of hours. I am short! Nothing can change that. So why torture myself.
The hair? – I am just glad that it is still with me, and has survived brutal, frequent blow dries, and smoothenings.
No, I am longer afraid of what a man thinks of me when he meets me for the first time. I am no longer afraid whether he would like me. I am only afraid of whether I would like him. I am afraid that I may like him, but then he would turn out to be a jerk. The kinds I have dealt with in the past. The chauvinist. The abuser. The philanderer. The fake feminist. Or a combination of all of these. The kinds I write about. The kinds who are the antagonists in my stories. The ones I ask women to be beware of.
Is this what elders have always been afraid of which is why they want girls married early?
Marry in your early 20s! Once you are older, you will become too stubborn about what you want / don’t want!
Is it because it is more difficult to fool me now?
A close relative had set me up with a man who said some things to me, which I found extremely misogynist. It is difficult to explain to someone 30 – 35 years older than you, why you did not like someone they thought was perfect for you. I tried to explain myself, that I did not like him although he may be a good person. It reminded me of a scene from the movie, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’. Priyanka Chopra’ character says that she does not have the feelings for her husband, which she should have. Her mother- in-law replies, “Haan, but problem kya hai?” Ranveer Singh’s expression was priceless.
The relative was trying to be kind and patient, by allowing me to justify why I did not like a perfectly good guy (according to him). I was waiting for a “But problem kya hai?”
Instead he said, “Well, he could not like something about you too. It is not like you are Queen Victoria!”
No, I am not Queen Victoria. But I think of myself as a progressive, loyal, caring and intelligent person. Decent enough to be a companion for someone. Would I compromise on these values that I am looking for? Absolutely not! It is not like I am asking for good looks or money!
Let the 30th birthday come along! I am not afraid. Let me be single for some more time. I am not afraid. Sad, maybe but not afraid.
The only thing I am afraid of is ending with the wrong person. Again!