She could tell a first copy from an original by the touch of her hand. A sniff was all it took to catch a blatant lie of the supposed Burberry fragrance, smelling of Nike in reality. She would have seen you for the first time and yet, be able to tell if you belong to the Victoria’s Secret class or the Vaseline range. But that did not imply that she looked down upon the latter. She belonged to a family where travelling in anything below a Mercedes meant “a tough time”. She did not know how to light up the stove or fold her clothes. Parties meant shopping and gatherings led to new wine glasses and more champagne. She was nineteen and she had not ever seen her mother in the same sari as the day before.
Quite naturally, there was no one who kept a tab on her expenditures. She had her fascinations and she did not know a world where she could not fulfill her desires. What most people failed to realise that she also saw her nanny’s daughter, who never went to school so that she could work as the extra help in the house. With all the money that her father donated to the poor, she knew there were people struggling for two square meals of the day. Just because she strolled in heels, did not connote that she eliminated the existence of people who walked barefoot under the burning sun. The fact that she never got wet in the rain unless she wanted to did not make her blind to the ones dripping wet because they had no shelter. Like every other being, it pained her heart too when she looked around the reality of what might be. Her chest wrenched with guilt when she looked at men and women sweating it out to be able to pay their bills. She was human and her emotional hormones worked just as well any other. Why then, was she claimed to be a smug and snobbish bank with a sense of superiority complex?
Yes, she wore lipstick to every occasion. Yes, she liked to adorn herself with real gold and diamonds. Yes, she admired the way her eyes looked with that Chambor kajal and liner. Yes, she never stepped out of the house without spraying that Chanel fragrance on herself. But how does any of that affect the way her brain functions? How does the length and style of her hair decide if she can have a political opinion? How does her perfect figure make her critical and aversive of a healthy and hearty appetite? How does the length of her skirt or the cut of her sleeves deprive her of having an intellectual conversation with the best minds of the country? How does her habit of drinking, make her an allegedly easy target for boys and the representation of disdain of her family?
All through her adolescence, her girlfriends would tell her that “The girls all want to borrow your clothes, and the boys that want to take them off.” Why, if she lived in a house the size of a mansion did people not see any other side to her? Was it enough to know that her father was the richest in the country, to complete her identity as a person? If it was not significant enough to probe further into her case than being the rich and pampered daughter, why was it important enough to judge her cerebral capacity on the basis of what she wore? No one knew that she aced at her academics in school. Not even her teachers cared enough to tap her on the back for an A+ and to detain her for an F. All they knew was that as long as she was satisfied with the school, the school had funding and the school remained functional. A medical student, she had her focus set straight in her head. But it did not matter. The lab coat was invisible on the latest import her father had gotten shipped for her. Her stethoscope was a fake covering the shine of the pearls underneath. She knew a doctor’s degree would not be the news, but her father’s Zara suit and her mother’s Sabyasachi sari that they would wear on her convocation.
She was brought up with as much comfort as one could dream of, cushioned with love, care, help and every toy that she could possibly play with. But she knew well and good that none of it was her money. She took birth under a lucky star and she was a blessed child. She remembered each day, to thank the Almighty for everything she had. She remembered each day, to respect her father for who he was and her mother for having stood by him through the best and worst of it. She remembered each day, not to take any of it for granted and to treat life with as much sincerity as her father did. So she lived it full and she lived it right. There were many tales she lived to tell. But that was something only she understood and no matter who hard she tried, she knew that it would wrap around the heads of the tabloids that she was as ordinary a person as she chose to be.