A humble exaggeration, a harmless lie, a saving grace- call it as you please. For a little ‘truth-less-ness’ at the beginning of this scribble should not annoy you. Yes, I’m not five feet tall-that is if five feet is tall at all!
I was born with genes hard to pull and a lineage not very proud of having ‘scaled heights.’ Yet I had a determined mother who had decided to battle the wrath of the Gods and ‘pull’ me out of the injustice hurled by Him upon our entire clan. And thus, grew my story ‘inch by inch.’
Just days after I set foot into this world, began elaborate sessions of oil massages- mustard and apricot, the right proportions of olive and almond; not to forget granny’s practice of using ‘ghee’ from a lone cow’s milk. It was all done, coupled with the right movements of fingers and hands for not less than three long years. But it was too early to predict and efforts could not stop at this. From bournvita to horlicks, skipping ropes to high jumps- nothing was spared, neither was I! The most tedious task was the tip-toed morning walk from one end of the room to the other with my hands out-stretched towards the ceiling almost in pleading. Lengths of iron rods across the doors of the house, basketball sessions and homeopathy wonder pills- you name it and I did it. But I grew faster in years than in inches. With her efforts seeming all in vain, what added to my mother’s woes were the constantly rocketing heights of cousins and friends. She was never spared without a tip or two-“Try giving her bananas on an empty stomach” or “Why don’t you help her with yoga…it works wonders!” To top it all was the perpetual concern of a maternal aunt who thought I would never find a groom….in all this the only person I pitied was my mother, for reasons so obvious.
Between all this my certain short stature never bothered me except on a few hilarious occasions. While in school I was once enthusiastically preparing to audition for the beautiful “Snowhite and the Seven Dwarfs.” Needless to say, I dreamt of being Snowhite, only to be dismayed by my selection as the seventh dwarf!
By the time I was out of my teens, my mother had invested too much in me and probably accepted her defeat at the hands of my genes. However, one can never underestimate the will power of a woman. She went on to try the very same formulas (along with a few others she had garnered with experience and time) on my younger sibling. And this time she did succeed. My sister happens to be an inch taller than me.
With time I had multiple experiences with my height- being pulled out of dance performances, being adjusted and re-adjusted in choirs to being given a children’s ticket at a fun park….in fact, there were many an imbroglio that made my height…oops…my life a fabulous roller coaster. Of course, my due apologies to those who really fretted over my height but believe me all their concerns were well taken and God did listen to some of them. My aunt for one could heave a sigh of relief for I eventually did find a groom.
As for me, this matter bothered me only as much as it could have bothered both Napoleon and Tendulkar. If I ever stood troubled, it was only in the kitchen trying to get a pan from the top-most cabinet. My mother does keep giving me tips to pull up my tiny tots…she has ample examples of genes gone wrong. Actually, I do follow some of those advices!
But at last for all those who stand as tall as me, a gentleman once asked me, “How does the world look from five ft no inches?”
I simply replied, “As beautiful as ever!”