Sometimes it is easy to suffer fools than suffer someone’s rather foolish words. Bracing such nonsense becomes a real task in itself if the person behind all this trash is someone for whom you have a high regard otherwise. What drives these people is something I can never understand. Are they as hollow as they appear or they’re hollow because they feel cushioned and benefited by it?
Before I start revolving in circles around the issue and digress tangentially away from the topic, let me get straight to the point. The person in question is someone I’ve grown fond of over a period of time. Calling her a mere neighbour would probably give an incomplete and incorrect picture of what she’s been to me.
In a city like Mumbai where people are known to have hearts that are colder than the ice in their refrigerators, I’ve been fortunate to be living next to this lady who’s been a strong support system for me. She’s provided painkillers for my aching molar at midnight and seen me through a nasty infection in my stomach, without any other motive than helping.
I find it odd, although endearing, when I fail to show up at her place someday and she gives me quite a mouthful for it. Out of habit or out of love, I’m not too sure, but she insists on seeing my face everyday and drops at my place (which is painful for her considering she has a knee problem and I live a floor above her) if I don’t follow her instructions. She’s a great cook and I rely on her big time for my kitchen doubts and tips.
I’m sure it is clear by now on why-the-high-regard-for-her part. Let me now come to what I was trying to say in the first line of this post. This lady, who’s in her 40’s now, is quite a looker. Her varying health problems make sure that she’s not in her best shape mostly, but she does make a pretty picture and certainly makes no bones to prove otherwise. Modesty and humility are two words that she’s never heard of. So much is her obsession about herself and her lineage that she assumes she can look down on everyone, including me.
Born in a business family (practically spoilt silly), well-educated and never one to compare myself to others, I wasn’t quite sure how I fell into this list of underachievers (according to her). Not that it mattered too much to me. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, right? As long as she behaved well with me I was fine with her attitude, until some days ago.
Her wedding anniversary was approaching and both of us were getting nostalgic on how our arranged marriages fell into place and how our kids have made the whole ride pleasant for us. It was alright till she went on and on about how pretty she was, how she had long shiny black hair and how her husband fell for her beauty in no time. It was when she caught me completely off guard by saying that I stood no chance with A (since he’s fairly handsome) and simply got lucky and that A Jr was smart to take on his father’s genes more than mine, that I felt that stab in my heart!
How could she say something like this? How is this her f*****g business anyway? A had said yes to me within five minutes of meeting me, so wasn’t this kind of a love-at-first-sight thing? When my perfectly average looks didn’t matter to him, why is this lady so bothered with it? Does my background and my education mean nothing at all?
Hurt by her unkind words but never showing it on my face, I came back home and told A about this whole thing. As expected, he only repeated what I knew he’d say. ‘Don’t listen to what rubbish others say. I love you. You complete my world.’
Slightly convinced but truly heartbroken I kept wondering, ‘Does it really matter if I’m not beautiful? Who and what defines beauty? Is your face the only thing that gets you brownie points? Would you rather be a beautiful idiot?’
There’s no end to this debate, but I know this. I don’t long to be anyone else but probably this lady would like a chance to be me and is hiding her own insecurities behind her pretty face. I don’t want to go gaga over how good I am, but surely I’m worth something, and that isn’t being on this lady’s list of ugly people.
As kids we’re taught that we need to respect our elders and never to answer back, come what may. This must be why I didn’t react to her comment and continued being the good neighbour I was, and still am. Deep down though the damage is done, and I can’t help but suffer the tales of her beauty over and over again.