I happened to try my hand at something out of my realm recently; I wrote a short story. It was for a contest conducted by a popular brand as part of the Jaipur literature fest. The theme was Beauty Paradox: Real beauty vs Perfect beauty. I had to write a story within the word limit of 400. I’ve never been good at writing stories. My area of expertise has always been blogs inspired from real incidents. With the word limit, it was even more difficult for me as my blogs are always long ones. But anyway, I decided to give it a shot, especially since it was my sister-in-law who told me about the contest and felt I should take part in it. I didn’t win of course. However, this is my first short story. So I thought probably I should post it here. It’s nothing great, really. Read on…
I loved him almost all through my childhood, probably from the time I was capable of having that emotion, from the time I was ten. His was the one face that was etched in my mind, the only face that brought a smile to my lips. Every time he passed by me, I blushed, the way only a little girl in love can blush. I danced alone in my room to romantic melodies, picturing him by my side. I filled pages of my notebook with his name. I went to sleep thinking of him; I woke up thinking of him. All my dreams were only about him. In my head, I lived a fairy tale with the prince of my dreams.
And then one day, shortly after I had turned 17, I found a notebook he had left behind in class. I flipped through the pages and on the last page, saw a drawing of a girl – a girl with unkempt hair, braces on her teeth, extremely thin hands and wearing a loose-fitting frock. By the side of the drawing I saw my name, and just underneath that, the caption for the drawing, “The Ugly Duckling”.
For the next ten years I lived my life trying to get over an insane inferiority complex, seeing only an ugly duckling every time I looked in the mirror. Excelling in studies or getting a high paying job did nothing to bring it down. When my parents asked me why I wouldn’t respond to any of the marriage proposals they were bringing me, I couldn’t tell them it was because of a feeling of insecurity instilled in me by a young boy of 17.
That was until I got a letter from my best friend. He had written this: “I love your eyes because they reflect kindness like I’ve never seen before; I love your smile because it reflects warmth like I’ve never sensed before; I love the touch of your hands because it reflects a sense of belonging like I’ve never enjoyed before; and I love your heart because it reflects love like I’ve never felt before. You are beautiful, in every way a woman can be. You are beautiful, because you are a wonderful human being. I love you!”
That day, I looked at my reflection and saw not an ugly duckling, but a beautiful swan.