Friday, October 24, 2008

Distorted perceptions

-By Swetha Amit
She came out of the library with books stacked in her arms and glasses firmly perched on her dainty nose. A roar of laughter from a noisy group drew closer as she self consciously walked down the passage. Straightening her Kurtha, she strolled past the popular crowd whom she knew would pass a scornful look at this ‘oversized’ bop. A silence followed as they seem to stare at her and even heard a faint whisper about a ‘bookworm’ and a drab. Scuttling away, she buried herself into a pile of fiction gaining solace in the interesting characters of the literary world. As she glanced at herself in the mirror nearby, a plump girl with not a bad looking expressive face looked back at her inquisitively. Was being on the heavy side a crime? Everywhere she went, it was all she heard. The constant jibes at her physical appearance, the drone of ‘how not to binge’, etc etc.

She was hardly spoken to at social gatherings. Disinterested expressions were what she noticed among people who cast their first glance at her. Does it take an hour glass figure to entice folks into a casual conversation? It was worse with the opposite sex who either pretended that she didn’t exist or seemed in a hurry to get out of her vicinity. She knew that she wasn’t dumb. In fact she had varied interests and was quite well versed in the field of literature and its works. Yet nothing seemed to penetrate her ‘tough’ looking exterior in this world of superficiality.

Sayings like “Beauty is only skin deep” and “there’s more than just what meets the eye” were confined to the quotes within old pages of a book which were referred to as a technique to impress the ‘right’ people. These were the words of wisdom which she had grown up with. She recollected an incident as a child when she playfully teased her governess as ‘spotty’ due to freckles on her face. The unforgettable reprimand later was what stayed with her during her years of growing up. The strange aspect lay in the fact of elders themselves indulging in such shallow behaviour and pretended to appear as know it all when it came to deeper meanings to life. It seemed that she was physically outcast as she was forcibly reduced to a sad state of solitude.

She couldn’t ignore the fact of sometimes wanting to mingle more with others and a secret longing of her inner self blossoming out to the rest of the world. Little did she realize that her wish would actually come true with just an accidental stumble?

It was like any other evening as she went to pick up her cousin from the neighboring gym. Waiting at the reception, she was soon enticed into the persuasive marketing gimmick by a rather attractive looking man who convinced her of the theory”Impossible is nothing”. She soon found herself engulfed in the puffs and pants along with others who were heading towards a similar goal. After a few weeks she gradually began to realize the positive impact that was occurring. It seemed like a rainbow creeping slowly amidst the dark stringent clouds. The opportunity of making friends more than made up for her otherwise loneliness that had developed like overgrown weeds in an unkempt garden. The supportive gestures of her instructors managed to help her shed a few pounds. Her entire world seemed to take a drastic turn in just a month’s time.

Confidence had become her staunch companion along with others whose attention she seemed to be showered with. Sudden spurts of recognition happened to come from all sources with respect to her verbal intelligence. Those who shunned her were vying for her attention like little dogs which would be content with just a smile of acknowledgement from their master. Social gatherings were no more a nightmare. The disdainful expressions were replaced with beaming smiles some which she noted were false, yet were smiles nevertheless. She felt like a new being altogether and strangely she was the same person a month back.

As she glanced again at the mirror, a slimmer girl wearing contacts looked back at her smilingly. However the reflection seemed synonymous of one who would have loved to share her views with the like minded. It was strange that those individuals found her only now. Was it her new fitness regime which acted as her fairy God mother? Was she to be thankful or disgusted of having being accepted socially as one of the fish in these shallow waters? It was ironical that she didn’t seem elated as she should have been. When what she wanted had actually come at a cost and that which even a plastic surgery wouldn’t have done justice to.

The veil of hypocrisy was what the world is. Dark complexions and deformities are actually ridiculed with such insensitivity that would put words like compassion to exile of extinction. It is true that beauty does lie in the eyes of the beholder of that which delves deep into ones soul and not what is depicted on the mere sole. She recollected the famous saying of “The worlds a stage”. How true she thought. The world indeed was a stage which seemed to host a beauty contest with judges who took it as their birth right to decide the admissions of the ‘socially approved’. And reject those like unwanted pile of rags that were a burden to ones cupboard which should ideally contain nothing but designer gowns.

As she walked out of the library this time, she couldn’t help but notice a stark contrast in the approach. The silence was accompanied with admiring gazes and whispers of “Who’s that chick?” And this time it was she who gave them a mocking smile as she geared up to explore the deeper waters in this ocean of life. And glad that she didn’t suffer from the disease of ‘distorted perceptions’.

Written for www.msn.co.in

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2 Comments:

Blogger Whirlwind said...

Comments on MSN:

ayesha parveen - kolkata on 10/24/2008 4:09:18 PM
You have written an excellent one here, Swetha.This is easily one of the best pieces I have read. Most suffer from distorted perceptions and some actually enjoy hurting those they consider less-than-perfect. Sad but true. However, the art of survival in this world includes becoming immune to these distorted perceptions, as the character in your story shows. Great writing, great theme.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Kiran - Kolkata on 10/24/2008 4:19:54 PM
Very well written. The story is very touching. Keep it up!

sharmishtha - kolkata on 10/24/2008 11:59:42 PM
marvellous story.

8:01 PM  

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