YOU ARE BEAU­TI­FUL

The opin­ion Jhanu lived for.

Woman's Era - - Contents - Deek­sha Tar

Rama was ag­i­tated from the pre­vi­ous night. A good night’s sleep hadn’t helped him to sub­side his an­noy­ance. His cranky old head wanted to con­verse but not ini­ti­ate one. He looked through and forth at his wife, who was just in as con­tra­dic­tory mood as he was in. “Stop it, Rama. Don’t spoil this pleas­ant morn­ing’ His wife said. “How could she do that? Have you seen her? Have you? She is not my Jhanvi….that for­eign soil changed my doll-like daugh­ter. I want my daugh­ter back.” “Enough, Rama. Don’t for­get your doll is 30 years old, an in­de­pen­dent woman and hap­pier than ever. Your re­tired brain needs to un­der­stand.”

Soft rays of light woke up Rama. He slug­gishly opened his eyes, stretched his arms, pushed his blan­ket to the edge of the bed and got on his shaky old feet with the help of his old man’s stick. His blurry sight strained to find his glasses, which were ly­ing on his bed­side ta­ble. Spec­ta­cles helped him read the time on the clock. It was eight on an­other Mon­day morn­ing of his re­tired life. He timidly walked to the porch and sat be­sides his wife on the old and ratty swing.

Rama was ag­i­tated from the pre­vi­ous night. A good night’s sleep hadn’t helped him to sub­side his an­noy­ance. His cranky old head wanted to con­verse but not ini­ti­ate one. He looked through and forth at his wife, who was just in as con­tra­dic­tory mood as he was in. She was all com­posed and en­joy­ing her morn­ing cup of cof­fee. In or­der to break the si­lence, he be­gan swing­ing the swing, with every freckle of strength his 70- year-old body.

“Stop it, Rama. Don’t spoil this pleas­ant morn­ing,” his wife said.

“How could she do that? Have you seen her? Have you? She is not my Jhanvi….that for­eign soil changed my doll-like daugh­ter. I want my daugh­ter back.”

“Enough, Rama. Don’t for­get your doll is 30 years old, an in­de­pen­dent woman and hap­pier than ever. Your re­tired brain needs to un­der­stand.”

“But she is only 30 and I am her fa­ther.”

“What is your point?” his wife asked.

“The point is she looks so dif­fer­ent and I can­not even recog­nise my very own daugh­ter.”

“Rama, she is your daugh­ter, not your prop­erty. Let her live her life her way. It took 30 years for her to make peace with her­self. Do not add to the drama un­nec­es­sar­ily. I was con­cerned but ever since she has re­turned I have only seen her smile. That smile is pre­cious for me. I hadn’t seen it in a long time.”

“How can you even say that, Madhu? Of course, I

want my daugh­ter to be safe and happy but I am gen­uinely con­cerned. That girl who re­turned yes­ter­day is a com­plete dif­fer­ent per­son. This is not Jhanvi. Jhanu was so sim­ple…my daugh­ter….”

“Enough, Rama, I am in no mood for a morn­ing ar­gu­ment. Your break­fast is all ready, wait­ing for you on the din­ing ta­ble. You can have it when you get time off from your un­nec­es­sary wor­ry­ing. I am leav­ing with Mrs Mathur’s for morn­ing arti at the tem­ple. See you for lunch.”

“Madhu, lis­ten..”

Madhu left even be­fore Rama could speak. He sat on the porch crib­bing and talk­ing to him­self a lit­tle longer than he wanted to. He hes­i­tantly un­locked his smart­phone, which Jhanu had gifted him on her pre­vi­ous visit. The screen fas­ci­nated him but he still strug­gled us­ing the fancy phone. His weak eye­sight and shaky hands didn’t adapt very quickly with the us­age of the de­vice but he knew how to What­sapp, which had be­come one of the most fre­quently used means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with his daugh­ter who was based in New York for al­most two years now.

The night be­fore she had re­turned home. This was her sec­ond visit in two years. Ha­bit­ual Rama went on Whatapp to check his daugh­ter’s up­dated pro­file pic­ture or any re­cently posted sta­tus. But there was none. He mur­mured to him­self and went in­doors to have his break­fast.

Rama was an ex­gov­ern­ment em­ployee and Madhu an ex-school teacher and the two now led a happy re­tired life. Jhanvi was Rama and Madhu’s only daugh­ter born af­ter 15 years of mar­riage. As a young girl she was very sim­ple and sorted, who took plea­sure in the lit­tle things of life and her par­ents were the cen­tre of her uni­verse. Theirs was a small and tightly knit fam­ily.

Jhanvi grew up to be a beau­ti­ful woman. Her dusky skin, long curly locks and hazel eyes added zest to her age­ing par­ents. Things went smoothly un­til one evening she re­turned from her in­te­rior de­sign­ing col­lege all sob­bing yet hid­ing her tears. Jhanvi was be­ing bul­lied for her ap­pear­ance in her col­lege for quite some time but that day things got off the mark and jabbed her heart. She even skipped col­lege for the next few days to avoid hu­mil­i­a­tion un­til a friend of hers sug­gested to wear make-up.

Jhanvi had never used any be­fore. She got her hands on ba­sic make-up items and be­gan us­ing it af­ter leav­ing her house and be­fore en­ter­ing her col­lege. The bul­ly­ing never stopped but Jhanvi got ob­sessed with ap­ply­ing make-up, do­ing her every strand of hair, wear­ing right clothes and al­ways car­ry­ing a pic­ture per­fect im­age. The ad­vent of so­cial me­dia gave her an au­di­ence base who ap­pre­ci­ated her physique, her flaw­less skin and who wanted to be like her. The neg­a­tive com­ments no longer both­ered her as lit­tle as the bul­ly­ing did, which had now moved with her to her work­place. Soon Jhanvi’s ob­ses­sion with the mir­ror re­flec­tion be­gan to con­cern her par­ents. Ap­par­ently they couldn’t com­pre­hend Jhanvi’s con­di­tion and also didn’t know any right way to deal with the sit­u­a­tion. The knit­ted fam­ily felt the knot of a grown-up, in­se­cure daugh­ter.

Jhanvi no longer liked to be with­out make-up and nei­ther would she let her par­ents see her with­out it. She felt naked, is what she said, so she would at least put the con­cealer, dab some pow­der and ap­ply ka­jal even when at home. Her ob­ses­sion was get­ting in the way with the peo­ple she dealt with, be it her par­ents, friends or her ex­tended fam­ily. Bit by bit she got iso­lated from peo­ple, lost her fi­ancé and be­came a liv­ing stranger to her very own par­ents. Her work suf­fered as well. Af­ter work­ing for five years cor­dially with her com­pany, she was fired. She was sacked on the grounds like no­body had been be­fore, for wear­ing a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of make-up and for be­ing self­ob­sessed.

But that didn’t stop her from be­ing what she was. As she was In­ter­net- fa­mous, well-qual­i­fied and had am­ple work ex­pe­ri­ence. Her loss of job opened doors to new ones. Soon af­ter, she left for New York to work with an es­tab­lished in­te­rior de­sign­ing firm. The for­eign soil boosted her ca­reer as well as her self-ob­ses­sion. The flow­ing money let her ex­per­i­ment be­yond makeup. She be­gan with laser treat­ment to get rid of un­wanted hair, es­pe­cially on her face. Once sat­is­fied, she per­ma­nently light­ened her skin and also did a facelift. She was only 29 years old. Every beauty treat­ment boosted con­fi­dence in her but never quite sat­is­fied her. Her lat­est beauty geek was her plumped lips which she had got done right be­fore her visit to In­dia, which had hurt and ag­i­tated Rama.

That morn­ing Rama spent his day wait­ing to hear from his daugh­ter though he knew she wouldn’t. No mat­ter how an­gry he was he still loved her. That Mon­day went by like any other, with his wife and two dogs. Rama was long­ing to be with his daugh­ter but she was nowhere near his sight. That night past din­ner as he strolled in his front yard with his wife, his phone rang. The phone didn’t flash the name. So Rama hes­i­tantly picked up the un­known num­ber.

“Hello, pa,” A sob­bing voice shook Rama. “Jhanvi! Is that you?” “Hello, I am Dr Naina Tal­war. Your daugh­ter is safe in our hos­pi­tal. Please get here as soon as you can. Gal­axy Hos­pi­tal, Tonca, Panaji.”

“Hos­pi­tal….why? What

Jhanvi grew up to be a beau­ti­ful woman. Her dusky skin, long curly locks and hazel eyes added zest to her age­ing par­ents. Things went smoothly un­til one evening she re­turned from her in­te­rior de­sign­ing col­lege all sob­bing yet hid­ing her tears.

hap­pened? Is she alone? What about her friends? I want to talk to her? Please.”

“Sir, I don’t think she is in a po­si­tion to talk with you right now. But I can guar­an­tee you that she is safe. Please hurry up.”

“Okay.”

The phone call left the two par­ents in a shock and with many unan­swered ques­tions. Madhu drove the car as speed­ily as she could and made it to the hos­pi­tal. All through the way Rama chanted the Hanu­man Chal­isa.

“Jhanvi…phone call?” Rama mut­tered at the re­cep­tion. He just couldn’t frame a proper sen­tence.

“The sui­cide case?” the re­cep­tion­ist in­quired.

“What?” both Rama and Madhu said in shock.

“Dr Naina…called… Jhanvi.” Rama re­peated.

“Mr Rama, come with me. Jhanvi is safe.” Dr

Rama and Madhu gave each other a stare, held back their tears and hugged their daugh­ter firmly. They had mul­ti­ple rea­sons for wrath but one rea­son to stay back, not to build her life, not to help her walk again. The phone call left the two par­ents in a shock and with many unan­swered ques­tions. Madhu drove the car as speed­ily as she could and made it to the hos­pi­tal. All through the way Rama chanted the Hanu­man Chal­isa.

Naina Tal­war helped the par­ents to Jhanvi’s ward.

Rama clasped his sob­bing girl in his trem­bling arms. Min­utes later Dr Naina broke the si­lence.

“How are you feel­ing, Jhanvi?”

“Bet­ter,” she replied in a faint voice.

“We need to keep Jhanvi un­der ob­ser­va­tion for the next 24 hours. Then she will be dis­charged. For now I will take your leave. In case of any queries and help we have nurses to help you out. Good night and be safe,” the doc­tor said and left.

Jhanvi had at­tempted sui­cide and was rushed to the hos­pi­tal for drink­ing poi­son.

“Jhanu? Are you all right? You didn’t go for any track to­day?” Rama asked. “Pa, am I ugly?” “No, Jhanvi, you are beau­ti­ful.” “Pa, I feel so worth­less.” “Why, beta? We love you…what hap­pened?”

Her near to death ex­pe­ri­ence made her speak out. Jhanvi couldn’t hold her­self back and spoke. She spoke the truth and her heart out even though it was not com­fort­able.

‘Pa, a year ago my com­pany fired me due to my ir­re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iour and un­eth­i­cal work ap­proach. Since my last visit I have been job­less on the for­eign soil. But my thirst for beauty still didn’t die. I shopped my­self to rags, all my sav­ings dried up within a few months of be­ing job­less, I was home­less as well un­til I got paid for mak­ing love. I did it, I did it be­cause I wanted money, money to ex­ploit and ful­fil my needs to look more at­trac­tive. Men show­ered cash to make me look more beau­ti­ful and I was con­tent. I con­tin­ued to ex­per­i­ment with my looks, bought ex­pen­sive clothes, worked hard to please men. Un­til all of this came to an end. All of a sud­den the same men didn’t want to sleep with me. I was too ugly to play with, was what they said. I hated my­self more. I once again buried my­self in beauty prod­ucts and treat­ments but none re­ally worked. Once again I was home­less and pen­ni­less. But this time with numb feel­ing. My in­ner self has died. Now I see no pur­pose to live life be­ing this ugly and not pleas­ing to men’s eyes…..”

Be­fore she could con­tinue Rama and Madhu gave each other a stare, held back their tears and hugged their daugh­ter firmly. They had mul­ti­ple rea­sons for wrath but one rea­son to stay back, not to build her life, not to help her walk again, not to be­stow their wealth to sat­isfy her wants but to help their daugh­ter love her­self to live once again. A year later with ther­apy, con­stant sup­port and par­ents’ help, Jhanvi rose back to love her life, work to her fullest po­ten­tial and let go the phys­i­cal ap­peal which she once cared the most about. Laugh­ter is the the smile of the sun!

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