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It was the most expensive and beautiful dress I ever got on my birthday. I knew it was very expensive because I was told so by my parents several times a day. This kind of pampering was very rare in a middle-class family. So I treated it with respect. I had even wrapped it up in my mom’s silk sari. For a fourteen-year-old me, it was dreams come true. I could already imagine my class’s Miss Congeniality bubbling her envy vein. It was perfect, perfect but for its length. An inch shorter and it would have been a dream. Nothing big, just a simple cut and stitch work. But a dress this expensive cannot be tailored at home or at a local shop. It has to be treated as per its standard. So I opted for this high-class boutique to alter it. It was one of those shops with a glass front and a receptionist sitting at the entrance. I had always wondered what it felt like being inside. And now I had a reason to. So I pushed opened the door and stepped inside. In an instant, I realized my mistake. There was this ‘High Air’ around this shop. You just don’t walk into these shops; you have to look like you belong there. I wished I had stepped up my game and taken that bath my mom had been nagging me about. The interiors were decorated with crystals, which for unexplained reasons made me very nervous. Maybe it had to do with my wobbly nature. I bring down things with me wherever I walk. The receptionist was a very stylish lady pretending to be indulged in some fashion magazine. Her ignorant attitude was working very well on me along with the pristine ambiance. I bundled up my courage and tapped on the glass desk. She gave me a quick look, her clipped smile hardly veiling her insolent expressions. I enquired about alternation services. She opened her appointment book and looked over it ever so frustrated like she was moving around so many appointments to fit me in. I felt so stupid for just shooting up there without an appointment. She finally looked up and said “Our designer will be available in about fifteen minutes. Would you like to pay ahead?” By this time I could have groveled for her acceptance and forgiveness for showing up unannounced. I couldn’t further make her think that I am just a slacker. So I nodded immediately. She ripped out a receipt of 40 rupees and handed it to me. I tried to conceal my shock, but seriously my local tailor does this job for 5 rupees. This was eight times of that. Suddenly my math improved. I convinced myself that I am getting a service from a designer and solemnly paid up. I missed my mom and her shameless bargaining tactics. She would have killed me if she knew how much I was paying for this work.But now there was no turning back. And I was prepared to keep the cost of this service a secret from my mom. That’s how much of awe I was with the place. I was floored by their overcharged services, their insolent attitude, and the whole crystal ambiance.
Finally, I was allowed to walk into the room where designers sat. He was as city chap. I could tell clearly because at that time no man in the community used to flaunt ear stud. He had two on his chin. I unwrapped the dress from silk sari and handed it to him. He took my height measurements and placed the dress on the marker board. I leaned in to take a closer look and could see that he had marked the length way above the point I was comfortable with. But then he was the designer, maybe they used different notions of marking dress. But a few seconds later scissors were slowly run on the mark. With each “zik” “Zik” of the scissors, my eyes widened with horror, but my lips remained sealed up. A good piece of fabric dropped on the floor. He squints his eyes and held the dress in front of me thoughtfully. He placed the dress again on the cutting board and another round of slow “Zik”ZIk” took place, dropping another good amount fabric on the floor. My short dress had gone micro mini, the fashion revolution of the year. I knew at that point that dress was as good as gone. There was no way in hell that I could have worn it. I had just paid heavily to reduce my awesome dress to a pillow cover. All the hell broke loose at my house. I cried over it for days after getting reprimanded by my parents for my stupidity. I Had to wear an old dress for my birthday. Which wasn’t really a big deal but I felt the pain of wasted 40 rupees. It was finally passed on to my cousin who was nine years old and was still a little short for her.
This disaster of a dress happened right in front of my eyes and yet I was so caught up in the reverence of the place that I could hardly object to what was happening. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to speak up. It almost feels impolite to tell your choices especially when others seems to have much more expertise on the matter than you. After all, that’s what we have been told to do since childhood. We are not encouraged to speak up; we are encouraged to follow, to listen up.
But it wasn’t until three horrible haircuts and two very bad makeup sessions that I learned to speak up, learned to voice my choices and my preferences, To state a clear ‘Yes’ And ‘No’.
Because it so happens in life that until you speak up for yourself things don’t change. They either become worse or just stay the same. We could play the blame game in our life and say that things that happened were not my fault. But the truth of the matter is, if you want that dress to be saved, if you want that hair cut to be good and makeup to be better, or if you want any kind of injustice to stop; you have to speak up.
Object, respond and take action.
Note: This is a fictional incident but I think I could have rocked in mini skirt!
This post was originally published on my website first.