Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
The grin on my face wouldn’t wipe itself. I tried! But the razor sharp edge of my newly shaped eyebrows, that left my skin tingling with pain, made me smile. The girl in the beauty parlor uprooted the weeds of unwanted hair mercilessly and the astringent burnt my skin. I had been wanting to put myself through this torture for some time, but hadn’t managed to steal half an hour- until today. I am nice and smooth.
Three Weeks ago… As the length and width of my eyebrows increased my face felt duller and my spirits dipped. While I had wanted to visit the neighborhood parlor for some time now, I always had other pressing demands on my time and often for someone else- who did not have the eyebrow problem. Cook for family, care for son, connect with mother in law (very important and always urgent), study for exams (yes, they are my exams-the anxiety, the sleepless nights, the mugging up... My son only writes the paper). By the end of the fortnight, the slight sore feeling had turned to full-blown irritability, frustration and lack of control. My life was being run by others and their demands. And while I diligently did the needful to save myself from the horrible pangs of guilt and to fit in to my own idea of perfection, I also hated my situation. I hated that I had to sacrifice everything that I wanted for my myself. Even the length of my eyebrows.
So that evening the dam burst and I shouted and screamed at anything moving (the maid, my husband, my son – no one was spared for a full one hour. (In hind-sight, I could have gotten my eyebrows sorted then). And finally exhausted and in an incredibly foul mood, I went to bed.
This is when my schizophrenia hit me and my evil alter-ego appeared.
Evil Me: I hate to see you like this. Unhappy and ugly. Go to the parlor. Get a facial and a hair spa. You’re a mess.
Me: When? I hardly have any time. I am so upset. Go away.
Evil Me: You have the same time as everyone else. 24 hours. And look at me. Oh Oh! and check out the nail art I got done today.
Me: Stop teasing me.
Evil Me: If you want to be the miserable country woman then…. Come on! You can be so much more. You’re so pretty. Leave everything else and go.
Me: How? Who will cook? Aby has to be picked from school. And I help him study. Who will take care of him when I go to the parlor?
Evil Me: Ignore all this stuff. It tires you down any way. And, the sky wouldn’t fall if you leave your house and family for an afternoon.
Me: But what will we eat for dinner then?
Evil Me: I prefer Pizza. But Chinese would work too. We can order takeout. Although I always prefer to go out.
Me: How convenient. And Aby’s homework? And the maid?
Evil Me: He can miss his homework for a day and the maid has no work if you aren’t eating at home….
Me: Ya, sure. Easier said than done. Go away and take your madness away.
Evil Me: Don’t forget that I am as smart as you are. You are free to choose. But you are not free from the consequences of your choice.
Me: Thanks for the life lesson. Which ‘Guru’ are you parroting?
Evil Me: It’s original wisdom! Let me explain. Among all the things that you do during a day, what is the one thing that you wouldn’t give up. Cleaning, Cooking, homework, TV time, Seeing the family happy, … pick just one.
Me: (after contemplation) Seeing the family happy. I guess.
Evil Me: Then that is the choice you should make.
Me: What else am I doing? Why else do I neglect myself. For other’s happiness.
Evil Me: Ya, look around- everyone looks so happy, right. The screaming really works. Listen, almost all chores can be compromised once in a while. But you cannot compromise yourself. If you’re not happy, no one in your family is. It is self defeating. (Obviously there was a devious design in this simple play of words. And I could see it. But did not want to accepts defeat)
Me: You’re just messing with my head. Get lost and let me sleep.
Evil Me: Get your priorities straight, girl. Good night!
I had this horrible sour taste of loosing a war of words. But it was especially nauseating to realize that Evil Me might have been right. I slept uneasy. But in the morning I had a choice to make. And the choice was mine; so were the consequences. I headed straight for the parlor. I do look prettier after the short trip to the parlor and we are going for Sushi tonight. Just like the surf advertising paradox - “Daag acche hai”, I realized, selfishness can be a virtue.