Waiting in the lobby of an eye clinic in Mumbai, I saw a couple of young ladies look around, as though searching for someone. One of them saw me, and walked towards be briskly, with a broad smile as if she knew me all her life. Needless to say, I was confused, and sure that she had mistaken me for someone else. She sat down next to me and said, not exactly for me alone to hear, “Hello aunteeeey”
Hello, I said, with that aloofness that we reserve for this variety of our species, for, by then I had realized that she was marketing something and prowling around that clinic looking for a prey. She had THAT smile. You know the smile that doesn’t reach the eyes which, in turn, betray a certain anxiety laced with craftiness.
She sat down beside me, looked at my face with a beatific expression and said “Aunty, you must have been an extremely beautiful lady when you were young”.
I was thoroughly embarrassed ‘cos no one had ever told me that when I was young. But then I remembered that people used to remark that my mother must have been very beautiful when she was young, though the dark haired younger mother I remembered was not half as beautiful as the platinum blonde fair skinned picture of dignity she presented in her immaculate white chatta and mundu, in her seventies. But what little confidence I got from this fleeting thought vanished when I saw my husband who was sitting next to me trying hard to suppress a smile.
My expression must have frozen ‘cos I saw a little worry creep into that girl’s eyes. It made her louder and more effusive. “Don’t you want to look that beautiful again, aunteeeeey?” was her next question. I looked furtively at my husband whose head was twisted at an alarmingly dangerous angle – you know like you see in those spooky vampire films where the head sometimes takes a three sixty turn. I wanted to hit this girl on her head. Instead, I said stiffly. “Am quiet happy as I am” with what I thought and hoped would be a gracious tone.
Then came the next salvo. “Aaaunty (a little shrill, falling intonation), you must have looked like Rakhee in your good old days”. Oh God! I threw a quick glance around to see if anyone was listening. I had already noticed that my husband’s head was fixed at a one eighty degrees and I could see only the back of his distinguished head. A few women of my age group sitting across were openly laughing.
I decided to be rude. “Listen”, I told her. “I’ve come to get my eyes checked. Please, I’m not interested”
“But aunteeeeeee”, the tenacious young leech crooned. “You know how Hema Malini looks at this age? You think it is natural? No, aunty, no no. It’s botox”
“No botox for me”, I said curtly.
“Oh come on aunty, you just listen to me and you can be beautiful once again. There are a lot of misconceptions about botox”, she said pulling out a brochure from her back pack.
Thankfully, my name was announced by the doctor’s receptionist and I fled.
What brought this incident to my mind was a news item that appeared prominently in the Yahoo home page. Angelina Jolie, the media suspects, has done a procedure to tighten her throat muscles! There are two tell tale raw marks behind the ears which should confirm that she has done the ribbon lift, the latest plastic surgery craze in Hollywood, costing 4000 pounds. Poor lady, how much of effort, planning and strategy she must have had to put into it to have this done away from the gaze of the public and paparazzi. It must be terrible, this torture of always being in the glare of publicity, particularly when your profession demands that you make those occasional visits to the plastic surgeon to maintain the youthful looks. And after that to have prying cameras trying to get a shot of those surgery marks behind the ears!
My friend goes to a gymn where she runs into some top Bollywood beauties and machos. She told me something which made me feel sorry for them. They were so thin – and without the designer clothes or designer no clothes, and the genius of a camera man to project them in a glamourous light, they looked almost abnormal with huge heads, she said. No trainer or machine can reduce the size of the human head, and so the head remains the same normal size while the body struggles to achieve the size zero. My friend was wondering what the size zero Kareena Kapoor would look like if these ladies are still a long way off that target.
Guess it’s no easy job, being an actress. The torture they have to put themselves through to remain in the race! Or do they enjoy it? They must, or they wouldn’t put themselves through the rigours of achieving 5’5’ height with a 48 Kg weight proportion. I wonder if they realize what it feels like to be in a profession which affords you the luxury of being able to say “No” to botox.
Sour grapes, said my cousin, when I shared this thought with her.