Riya checked her watch. It said 8:29 AM. She would make it on time to class after all! Having stayed up all night preparing for today’s exam she had somehow managed to oversleep and was now making a mad dash to the examination hall. The clock struck 8:30 just as she reached the door.
It had been a tough two weeks for Riya just as it had been for the others in her class. The university exams were on and finally today they would be let free like a bird out of a cage. She looked around and everyone seemed to be mentally preparing themselves for that one final push. Some of them were praying, some were trying to recollect the answers and some just seemed to be lost in thoughts. She saw her best friend Anjali in the front row give her the thumbs up and mouth an “All the Best” to her. This was followed by what seemed like a “Diwali Party Tonight.” Riya smiled and responded with a thumbs up of her own. The papers were distributed and suddenly the hall grew silent and everyone was buried in solving various trigonometry problems.
The final bell stirred everyone up with many of the students trying to squeeze in those last couple of problems. All of them were ordered to leave the rooms. Once they were done with the customary ‘cross checking’ of the answers the mood lightened. Suddenly everyone seemed to have realized that the exams were done and they had the whole two months ahead of them. Anjali seemed very excited about the Diwali party.
“Tonight’s gonna be so much fun!” she screamed
“Yeah, it’s a welcome change from the drab of the last two months” Riya replied with a grin.
Soon they were surrounded by a crowd of about ten girls, all buzzing about the party. From the dress that they would be wearing, to the shoes, to what time they were supposed to be at the venue and even as to whom they would be bringing as their dates.
As they were making their way through the corridor, they passed by a group of guys who apparently had been privy to their conversation. One of them looked in their direction, at no one in particular and said “Whatever dress you may put on, a pizza face will always remain a pizza face” and they all burst into laughter high-fiving each other.
Though the guy hadn’t mentioned the name of the girl he was referring to, everyone in the girl gang seemed to know towards whom the jibe was directed to. Instinctively Anjali held Riya’s hand and said “Just ignore them.” Even though Riya knew that Anjali was her best friend and was just trying to make her feel better, it hurt her even more to know that Anjali had brazenly assumed and also declared in front of everyone that the taunt was meant for her.
She went back home and headed straight for the mirror. She saw that her face was covered with even more acne than the usual. Some called them stress pimples attributing them to the exams. She was told that it was a common problem in an 18 year old but she found it hard to accept it. She began to sob and decided right away that she wouldn’t go to the party.
It was a hot day and the huge crowd around made it feel even hotter. The line seemed endless as she waited for her turn to enter the audition room. She had always aspired to be a model. Though she wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous by any means, she was tall, good looking and had a great personality with the intelligence to match it. It was seemingly obvious that she would give modelling a shot at some point or the other in her life and there couldn’t be a better opportunity than this one, could it? She was 21 years old and the auditions for the Miss South India Contest had come to her city. The two celebrity judges and a VJ had together created a buzz in the city. She knew that this would be the perfect opportunity for her if she could somehow impress the judges enough to make it to the second round among the thousands that were auditioning on that day.
As she stood in the queue, she began going through the judging process mentally. Thousands would be screened by the judges, who would then choose around a 100 from the lot to get into the next round, further reduce them to about 50 who will be trained accordingly, brought down to 25 and they would proceed to the main event in Bengaluru.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t realize that she had reached the counter and it was her turn to enter into the auditioning room. Once she entered she realised that it was nothing like what she had imagined. Rather than the fancy stage it was a small room where the three judges sat in front of her. They had a good look at her, asked her a few basic questions, made her walk from one end of the room to the other. When she came out of the room she was informed that she wouldn’t be going into the next round.
They were all seated in the spacious drawing room. Her parents, her sister, two of her aunts with their respective husbands and her grandmother. Seated in front of them on a single sofa were his parents, his sister and an uncle. Everyone seemed to have a smile on their face and were talking animatedly. She hated seeing proposals, especially the silly customs that came along with them. As they sat out there discussing about her, she had to quietly wait inside to make her appearance with a tray of coffee. She listened to them on the other side of the curtain as the two families discussed about them, tried to find common people that they knew etc. Finally when she was allowed to make her grand entry, she walked gingerly with the tray and offered some coffee to the guests. She felt that everyone’s gaze on her as they were sizing her up from top to bottom. She didn’t know why but she felt nervous. Finally she sat down and there were polite inquiries made about her. Most of the talking was done by the parents of both sides.
After an hour or so, just as they were leaving, the boy’s mother came up to her and quietly asked “Have you always had this acne problem? Haven’t you taken any treatment for it?”
Riya was taken aback and just stammered a response which she herself couldn’t comprehend. The lady smiled without saying anything. After they left she sat by herself knowing very well that this proposal wouldn’t work out.
Riya looked into the full length mirror. The saree she wore was as stunning as her!! “Its perfect for tonight’s party” she thought to herself. They had been invited to a party organized by her husband’s company. The who’s who of the company would be present along with their spouses. She wanted to look her best. She admired herself again in front of the mirror. At the age of 38 being a mother of 2 kids she still had the figure of an 18 year old. She looked at her face which was smooth and clear except for a single acne on the left cheek. She smiled again. It brought back so many memories. As she reached out for the face wash she remembered the Diwali Night as a college student. How she had cried herself to sleep that night just because of a silly comment from a boy. When he had said it, it really hurt her. She had refused to attend the party at the pretext of being ill. She recollected how heavily it had rained that night and the whole open air diwali party was a disaster. Sitting at home watching the movie ’50 first dates’ didn’t seem so bad after all!
Her mind then went back to the auditions. She was rejected because of her acne, she was told by one of the organizers as she was heading out of the audition room. They wanted a clear face. It hurt her again at that time and she had actually felt that her face was a curse. Now when she looked back at those days she didn’t feel so. Beauty in the fashion industry was just skin deep. Why else would the contestants have so many ramp rounds but only a single question to check their intelligence? It was not her fault that she had the acne problem and it was not their fault that they had rejected her. If not for that rejection, her career wouldn’t have taken a different path and she would probably not have been one of the top executives of the company that she is today.
Then there was the dreaded day when she had to exhibit herself as a prospective bride. After everything went well, one query about her acne made her feel that the proposal wouldn’t work out. But unlike the judges at the contest, the boy’s parents who now were her in-laws didn’t judge her based just on the acne. They had loved the person that she was and hence agreed for the proposal. Today she was happily married to her husband and they had been blessed with two beautiful school going girls.
So acne wasn’t the ‘be all and end all’ of life after all. She still wished she had a cream during the Miss South India contest because that was an unfulfilled dream though. She had a clear face for more than a decade now thanks to the face wash with neem extract. It made her much more confident now and less conscious of her face. From being a pizza face to now being transformed to baby cheeks, she had found a solution to her eternal problems. But now that she was older and wiser she knew that ‘yes’ it was important to have a clear face but it doesn’t mean that your life has to begin and end with it!
AUTHORS NOTE :
1. This post is a part of Garnier Pure Active Neem Activity in association with Indiblogger.