Scrolling down her boyfriend’s friends’ list on facebook, she stops at a pretty face. She opens the girl’s profile but, to her disappointment, her photo album is private. All she has is the girl’s display picture, which is sadly, not a close-up of her face. She nevertheless, saves her display picture on her desktop. Then using Microsoft Picture Manager she crops the image to get a cut-out of her face. Then she enlarges the cut-out, but not too much lest it be blurred. “She has pretty eyes”, she speaks to herself, “but heavily done. Maybe she doesn’t look that good without make-up.” She gets up from her chair and walks up to her dressing mirror.
She is calm and pleased to look at her wide and beautiful eyes. She thinks “I can look prettier than her if I wear make-up too.” She gazes at her recently corrected nose and lips for the forty-seventh time that evening. She builds a smile to check how well the surgery paid off. She smiled pretty, even before the surgery. Her perfect teeth along with the slight dimple (which she would try to enhance by biting her cheek) never failed her. But one day, as she saw her reflection against the black background of her desktop, it dawned on her, that she didn’t look good when she was serious. Standing before the mirror, she makes a cold, androit-like face for the acid-test of the surgery. In spite of the deliberate lifelessness on her face, she looks peaceful to see her proportionate lips and corrected nose. With the nose-job done, she no longer worries about what her boyfriend thinks while he stares at her silently.
She turns around to return to her desktop, with a stream of silent monologue trailing along. “This is the bright side of being a school-teacher. Am I rationalizing? Perhaps I am; but where else can I have a month long paid summer vacation for my cosmetic surgery? Where else would I be spared the exceedingly disturbing reactions of male colleagues? Wow, when I had to resort to being a school-teacher after failing the IAS, I didn’t imagine this would be an upside of this career.” She smirks; pulls her chair; and sits down.
She begins going through his friend’s list again. She knows almost all the girls, by photo. Not a single one of his one thousand-plus friends even knows he’s in a relationship. The fact that they met through online dating can not be told to his friends as according to him, they are too conservative to understand. Hence he wants it to be secretive at least for some time. She picks up her cell phone to see the time. It’s July 15th, 11.25 P.M. Four more days to go, then he’ll be back on 19th which also happens to be his birth day. “This must be his best birth day present ever. I’m damn sure I have outdone all his past girl friends and even his friends’ girl friends for that matter.”
She is just in time to catch ‘friends’ on T.V. It’s been only recently since Star World started giving subtitles. She doesn’t get American accent and he hates Indian cinema. Thus they have never been on a movie date. She grabs her notepad and pen; and heads off for the living room.
Half hour later she returns to her desktop. Sheena has changed her display picture. 43 people ‘like” it and almost 10 have paid compliments. “What is up with every body? She is just average- looking. Well, good for her that she’s always believed she’s pretty. Delusion is bliss.”
She proceeds to de-clutter her IM history. IM with Sheena is the most recent. She opens it up to give it one last look before it’s deleted. As she quickly sprints through it, she catches, “my gift is infinitely better than he gifting me a makeover package” …. “I know I’m pretty but I don’t want my boyfriend to love me for my looks”….. “he can not, not love me for my looks” ...”ridiculous”
She clears her IM’s and minimizes the window. Then she opens the file of Doors music and lyrics; which he had given her before going away. She wants to check her gmail before she gets on with her 5 –songs- a –day- ritual. There is one unread message.
“I think it’s in our best interests that we go our separate ways. It’s not about you. You are a sweet and pretty girl. It’s just that I’m too busy with my job. I am telling this in a mail because I lack the fortitude to say it in your face. Hope you forgive me. Have a good life. Take care.”