By Neel Anil Panicker

“What are you doing? Don’t you play there. You good for nothing, ugly bitch.” That was her father yelling out at her, her first and only born biological daughter.

All her life Shefali lived with the debilitating thought that she was ugly. It was a feeling she was saddled with and one she harbored right from the time she was a mere five year old toddler flitting around in pony tails.
The sense of distress about her looks continued right through the formative school years, and by the time she was ready to graduate from college it had solidified and become like a second skin, much like cement is to brick.

Like a marauding epidemic that had spread its tentacles far and wide, the malaise had become endemic and penetrated so deep into her vitals that it did neither spare nor leave her in peace even on those few and far special occasions in a girl’s life like on her birthday, or much later, on her best friend’s marriage.

She remembered the occasion pretty well. It was Anita, her childhood friend, her one and only bestie’s marriage.

She had come out of her room, dressed in a sheer chiffon mauve coloured saree that she thought would accentuate her curves and would make her look divine, at least once, at least today, at least that’s what she thought.

“Be careful. Don’t you go anywhere near the groom’s family. They may just about cancel the wedding. Who would ever want to marry off their handsome boy to a girl whose best friend is so ugly”?

The question may have been rhetorical but to Shefali’s ears it sounded like an inquisition, a direct, frontal, blunt, and nakedly brutal interrogative assault that served its intended purpose. It left her badly shaken, brutalised, ashamed and unwanted.

It came back, the feeling of not being wanted, of not being part of the family, the bad memories, the trauma et al, exactly the way they_her mother, father, brothers, __ had all wanted it to come back.

And after the gory deed was done, they left her, as usual, as always__hurt, humiliated, insulted, unloved and unwanted__, struggling, fighting, battling the unknown demon of helplessness that had shrouded her entire life casting a long and penetrative shadow of incompleteness.
Thanks to them_ her very “own”_, she had lived all life, tightly wrapped in a thick inner blanket of fear, revulsion, repulsion, and coping with a severely brutalised psyche that had scarred and marred to an extent that now left her battling every waking hour of her life an elemental inferiority complex.

A young woman such as her, four years into her marriage and still childless and ever so unhappy, was pushing and prodding away into her thirties, saddled with a negativity so ingrained in her subconscious self that told her in unequivocal terms every waking moment of her day, that  “She, Shefali, whatever clothes she wore, however bright, rich, and stylish they may be, on her, they look ‘yuck, dull, boring and downright ugly,’ for she was just that__a fat, ugly good for nothing girl.”

Until… until the day she met Rishi; and the night they first made love.  One night had changed it all. One sex filled, love fueled, lust charged night was all it took for poor dear Shefali to realise that she was right and all the others__ who derided her and heaped scorn on her including her father, brother, and even her mother__ were wrong. It made her finally realise that she, after all, was not ugly but on the contrary beautiful, in fact very, very beautiful.

During that single magical night, he had looked into her eyes, held her in his arms, pressed her to his chest, fed her with his hands way too much tender loving care and then, seen her metamorphose into a fairy, into the beautiful fairy that she was, was always meant to be.


In his life affirming words she had finally found the peace that she had always craved for, and in his muscular arms she transformed, slowly but surely. The ugly duckling had bewitchingly metamorphosed into an achingly beautiful swan.

With Rishi, in Rishi, and inside Rishi, she discovered what real beauty was. It  needed eyes, real beautiful eyes to appreciate it. Thanks to him she had finally become a woman. He was her life, her soulmate, her friend, the bestest of the best.

As she looked into his ‘oh so beautiful’ luminous eyes, tinged with just the right shade of sunset brown, she, for the first time in her long hitherto torturous and tortured existence, knew and experienced happiness, pure unadulterated supreme bliss.

That Rishi was good would be an understatement for Shefali. To her and for her he was  the brilliance personified, the elixir of her life.

At the end of every meeting he bequeathed her with dreams. His dreams. Dreams of him and her, love locked in the Island of Paradise.

Settled in her comfy cushion with only a solitary beam moonlight illuminating her high cheek boned face now flush with sheer shamelessness, she slid into her dreams, yet one more time.

And like a promise truly made and thereby kept, Rishi, the man of her dreams, came. And with him, she too, came. They were in it together, and meant to come.

It was a real homecoming, in every sense.


1 thought on “

  1. Interesting insights…

    Liked by 1 person

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