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September 19, 2011

She was 16. The age of attention, boys, budding friendships, blossoming love. She got off the school bus and ran home. Her mom opening the door, said, “How was your day Tina? Did you eat your lunch properly?” Tina barely heard her mom and went straight to her room, shutting the door behind her. She took off her bag and threw it on the floor. She stripped off the belt and the shoes. She walked up to the full-length mirror staring at herself, pulling her hair back, stretching her full cheeks hoping they would disappear. She grabbed her slight paunch and wished it would melt. Tears welled up in her kohl-lined eyes and she started sobbing. “Why am I so ugly? Dear God, why am I so ugly? Why Why WHY?” With each question, her voice trembled until she broke down completely. Tina stayed in her room for the rest of the day. Her mother’s many efforts to bring her out, failed. “Tina beta, come have some milk? Why don’t you eat some parathas I made?” Tina thought to herself, as she rocked herself back and forth on the bed, “That is what makes me fat Mom!!

Tina thought of her day at school today and sobbed. She went to an upper-class private school filled with kids from very affluent families. Kids with much higher exposure to fashion, lifestyle, make up than her middle-class knowledge. Tina had recently moved to the big city from a small town in the western part of India as her parents wanted her and her younger sister to have a “Life“. “Some life this is!“, Tina thought to herself as she wiped the nth tear off her kohl-streaked face. She continued to sit in front of the mirror and stare at her face. “OH SO UGLY!“, she told herself.

School was a punishment for Tina and she could feel her grades fall. She knew she was better than this but it was so damn hard to not let these things affect her. Tina was at an age where ‘everything‘ affected her. She was at an age where she craved for attention…but unfortunately got none! She was at an age where “What boys said.. mattered!

Or maybe, it only mattered to her.

So coming back to what happened at school today. It was a usual day. A usual day when her friends made fun of Tina’s physical shortfalls. A usual day when her friends called her names…”Fatty!“. “Yo Tina! Why are you so short ya? Haha” A usual day, indeed! Tina had always been the nothing-affects-me-so-I-will-smile kinda girl. She was accustomed to hearing a lot of comments about her physical appearance since she was 10 and this did not affect her. She would go through the day with a big smile on her face. Her mantra was — Make fun of yourself before others do. It really saved her a lot of hurt and pain. She was the typical happy-go-lucky 16-year old with a large group of friends. But she has never got pampered.. of course barring the pampering of her lovely parents. She never got that attention that she saw girls in her school get. Oh the girls in her school! Tall, beautiful, some drop-dead gorgeous, fair… and they knew they were all these things. The boys would come to Tina and tell her all about the latest crush they had. They would crave.. cry… yearn for these girls and Tina always heard them. She was always that shoulder.

I am digressing again, ain’t I? Well, coming back to today.

Today was different! Lunch got over and Tina along with another girl and 3 boys was sitting near the swimming pool. The usual banter was on. A smile here, a tinkle of laugh there. Suddenly, one of the guys, sizing up the 2 girls – Tina and her friend Sia, said “You are both so short!” Tina rolled her eyes and knew the insult that was coming her way. She braced herself for it. He continued, “But you know what? If Sia becomes slightly taller she will be hotter and more beautiful than what she is right now!” Sia blushed and said, “Guys…..Stop it!” The boys had a hearty laugh. they were not done yet. Looking over Tina, one of them said, “But Tina, even if you get taller… what is the point? You will still be the same..UGLY! Ha Ha Ha” Sia looked over at Tina and mumbled something apologetic which Tina could not hear. Tina was in shock. She could feel her heart drop and tears cloud her eyes. “Control yourself Tina..control yourself. Don’t make a scene“, she told herself over and over again. Tina excused herself and walked back to her class. She knew this was the worst that was ever thrown at her. She could not believe she called these boys her ‘Friends’. “Are they that heartless? Am I that ugly?“, the questions circled her mind as she made her way back to the classroom, absentmindedly.

It was not over yet. No.. it was far from over. As Tina walked back, she looked up and there he was. The School Bully. Tina always avoided him, Aman, one year her junior and probably the most obscene of the lot. He always managed to upset Tina. Aman was walking towards her with a purpose in his stride. He had a wicked smile on his face. He stopped Tina and mocked, “Oye fatty! Where are you off to? Can’t you look and walk?“. Tina started to walk away. But Aman was not done yet. He continued in the insulting tone, “You know what Tina? Mark my words.. You are Short. Fat. Ugly. And trust me.. the unfortunate man you marry will be just that. Short. Fat. and Oh-So-Ugly.” With that Aman let out a guffaw and sauntered away to his classroom. Tina stood there, in the verandah, all by herself suddenly feeling very lonely. She held herself together. She knew if she broke down, it would create a scene.

It was a full moon and Tina sat by the window looking out of the window, as she reran the day’s happenings in her head and thought to herself, “I wish I was pretty. I wish I was thin. I wish… I wish.. I could change.

Note: All characters in this post are fictional. There is no resemblance to anyone living or dead.

Also Note: Sometimes people are of the impression that such comments are of trivial nature and should be forgotten or brushed under the carpet. “Whats the big deal? Why are thinking so much about it?” What some fail to realize is adolescence is that period in a person’s life, that has the biggest impact on what the person turns out to be. Such things are almost never forgotten.

  1. September 19, 2011 9:13 PM

    one more nice story from you!
    and trust me.. you’ll get many responses saying: “that made me cry! Tina is just like me :-(”

    being a Bollywood fan, i was expecting a happy ending, though!

  2. Ashok Mario Pereira permalink
    September 19, 2011 11:32 PM

    well said .. we’ve all been through various facets of this growing up. physical, mental, parents type, siblings. but you know what?

    a. this is true of human nature worldwide. happens to all of us, whichever small town in India we come from.

    b. and this is what builds character, in our later stages of life, as we progress on our own journeys, Whether they be as a homemaker, mother, father, provider, care-giver, mentor, leader.

    It is the humility that one seeks, that sometimes if forced upon you, and sometimes learnt the hard way. Either way, we are the better person for it. And it is imperative we share that humility with others.

    Thank You. Insightful.

  3. PrashanthiR permalink
    September 20, 2011 7:17 PM

    I second Ashok’s words and these are people who have learned faster and are better humans when they grow up. Imagine, the kind of upbring those guys have got. Imagine, Tina’s parenting with her kids. There goes a biggest lesson learnt.

    Good writing!!

  4. September 22, 2011 5:43 AM

    I feel this, coming from the opposite end of the size spectrum.

  5. September 23, 2011 9:01 AM

    Well written Tanu.. all of us have faced some or the other form of such bullying. and some take it in their stride and some dont…
    If everyone was a bit more sensitive and a bit more humane, the world wud be such a happier place..

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