It was a big day for Kavya. Today she was meeting her fiance’ Samir’s extended family for the first time. They say opposites attract. It is such a cliché! But it could not be truer in the case of Samir and Kavya. Samir had his own advertising agency which he had started after being a model for nearly a decade. Kavya taught Social studies to students in 8th to 10th grade. Samir was drop dead gorgeous. Kavya was average looking with a kind smile. The two had met at a common friend’s house and remained in touch. Their friends still wonder how and when they fell in love and decided to get married with nothing in common…
It was Samir’s second marriage. He was previously married to a fellow model, Ayesha. Samir’s friends still spoke about Ayesha, and how she was such a beauty. It was bad enough that Kavya felt that Samir was much better looking than her. Every time she met his friends, she knew that they were silently comparing her to his ex and felt sorry that Samir found less of a match. She had got used to their comments:
“You are so different from her!” Different was just a nice way of saying plain and ugly, she thought.
“She was perfect for him, but it was not meant to last!” If she was perfect and it did not last, how long will I last will all my flaws? She would wonder.
Kavya was academically brilliant, intellectually inclined and a loving and caring person. Samir loved her but that didn’t change her self-doubts and insecurities. She always felt that she would get dumped sooner or later. After all, everywhere we keep seeing and hearing that men only fall for physical beauty. Samir teased her about how he was the more attractive one in the couple, though not in a mean way. It was meant to be a joke. But it was the truth and it pinched her. The past year of dating Samir had been financially exhausting for Kavya. She used to spend way out of her means on dresses, and beauty treatment to look good.
Kavya started her day by buying a lovely evening gown for the evening meeting with Samir’s family, after getting personalized attention from an enthusiastic salesgirl.
“Ma’am would you like to buy heels?”
“No”, replied Kavya firmly.
“But Ma’am you are short, this kind of dress looks nice on tall girls, please take a look if you like something”.
Samir was so tall… Kavya gave in and bought a pair of stilettos.
Next, she was at the beauty parlour. She asked for a fruit facial which she thought would be mild for her sensitive skin.
“Ma’am, you are looking very dark. Please try the de-tan facial, it will make you two shades lighter.”
I must be looking like a beast, she thought and opted for the de-tan.
On her way back home, Kavya thought that Samir’s family would now be looking her up on social networking sites and WhatsApp. She must put up a nice DP.
She searched through the gallery and selected a picture which was her best, but she was looking fat! She edited, illuminated and changed angles in photoshop until she looked like a slim, plastic doll and uploaded it, pleased with her creativity.
Finally, she and Samir arrived at the venue. Samir’s family was already there. They were all good-looking. Samir’s cousins who were barely 16-17 years old were very stylish and so were his sisters/ sisters in law who were in their 40s. Kavya was nervous but she was managing. Most people were welcoming and nice. After dinner, the cousins gathered around the bar for more drinks and to get to know Kavya better. They were asking about her education, her family and Kavya was starting to get comfortable. This was no so bad, she thought to herself.
The DJ announced the last song. “Noooo!”, screamed some kids negotiating for one more.
One of Samir’s older cousins, who was very drunk, put one arm around Kavya and the other around Samir and started talking at the top of his voice, attempting to make himself audible despite the loud music.
“Well, after meeting Kavya, I have understood one thing!” he said.
“What?” asked Kavya smiling shyly.
“That love is blind!” And he burst into laughter. Other people, half drunk and very loud by now, also started laughing.
“What do you mean, that Samir Bhaiya was wearing shades when he saw Kayya?” asked a younger girl.
“No not shades, otherwise she would have looked even darker!” said somebody else. There were some more laughs.
“From Ayesha to Kavya, Samir Bhaiya ki sad kahaani!”
“Oh come on! Kayya is brainy. She can give free tuitions to our kids!”
Oh home tuitions! Adi’s current teacher takes Rs 500 for an hour. Kavya I will give you Rs 1000! But you should come early morning. I feel bad for these people no, running around the city to make a few bucks..”
Kavya did not remember when the DJ stopped playing. She just wished that she could disappear. All her insecurities and her fears were right here and she was facing them. She felt naked. She knew she was not a beauty queen. She knew she was not rich. She knew Samir was everything that she was not. And here it was: Her worst fear coming true. The person she loved the most was being given reasons of how she was not good enough for him. She had tears in her eyes. Oh God, I can’t cry now!!
Samir did not react. He was also laughing, not mockingly, but more of a polite laughter. He looked at Kavya. He held her hand, and asked, “You okay?”
“I am okay. Just did not know I was signing up for such humiliation.”
“Oh come, on Kavya! Don’t be so sensitive. They are just kidding. They really liked you…” He offered her a drink.
“How would you feel is someone said such insulting things to you?”
They were interrupted by the drunk guy who had initiated the chain of nasty comments. He started pulling Kavya. “ A toast from Kavya.. Say something dear…”
Samir nodded to Kavya and whispered, “Looks are not everything. I still love you. They came all the way to meet you. Say a note of thanks to them atleast.”
Kavya went forward and smiled. She gulped her drink down.
“I am so glad to have finally met you all today. I really wanted Samir’s family to like me.” She paused. “Not because I care about any of you, but because I love Samir.”
Samir looked a little scandalized, but remained silent.
“I know I am not beautiful or rich like Ayesha. But if she was so perfect, why did she and Samir break up? If only beauty and money could sustain relationships…. You all are blessed with money and claim to be so modern. Yet in this day and age, you think it is shameful to be dark-skinned? Are you the kinds who put matrimonial ads desiring “gori” women and apply Fair and Lovely! So regressive!!
I teach kids and I can proudly say that not a single student of mine has ever failed in my subject. I build their future. I am not just a mentor to them, but also their friend. They talk to me about their problems, and I help them in whatever way I can. They stay in touch with me, even after they have passed my classes. I love my job and I make an honest living. I know the ways in which some of you have made big money, let me not even get into that.
Samir liked me for the qualities I have, as a person. Yes, a good-looking man can fall in love with an average looking woman. Why is so difficult for your peanut sized brains to accept?
Actually I can’t blame you. I found it hard to accept myself. The world loves to feed off people’s self-doubt and all this while I let them. When I don’t love myself for who I am, how can I accept that someone else would?”
She leaned on the table and removed her heels. She became a foot shorter.
There was pin drop silence in the room. Samir’ relatives were shocked. She looked at Samir and continued:
“I love you Samir with all my heart. You flunked in 12th grade. Still I love you. Your vocabulary and spelling is worse than the fifth graders in my school. Still I love you. The only book you have ever read is 45 pages of Chetan Bhagat’s One Night at a Call Centre. Still I love you. You cannot hold a conversation with my friends on any social issue. Still I love you.”
She raised the toast and said,
“Yes, every love is blind, or it wouldn’t exist!”