• Is beauty really only skin deep?
- Dixya Poudel, Kathmandu
He shot his hand up. That he wasn’t much into literature didn’t mean he would come unprepared for the class. He looked around. The only other raised hand was the girl whose name he didn’t know

May 29, 2016-He looked at himself in the mirror. Pale brown skin, hollowed eyes and gangly limbs. He had unruly black hair and making up for a mustache were sprouts of facial hair, sparse and grey against his fair complexion. He wasn’t particularly handsome and he knew it. After much hesitation, he finally shaved off his so-called mustache. He was not someone who was that conscious of his looks; if it was not for the new addition to his class—a tall, slender being whose name sounded exotic and he hadn’t quite grasped it yet. He was too dazzled by her smile to remember that exotic name. But, no matter, sooner or later he would find out. It was the senior year of high school and there was a whole year ahead of him. He was patient and calculating but wished he had his father’s good looks. He was smart enough to realise he would have to go to lengths to win this girl. The competition would be cruel and it is a tough world. You get only what you earn.

His sister banged on the bathroom door.“You are a guy. How much time do you need to spend in a bathroom, unless you are trying to impress someone?”Maya said, as if she had just visited the insides of her brother’s mind. His sister could be so annoying at times, and would at times outwit her older brother.

“Fine, I am getting outta here,” Ramesh said as he walked out of the door, with a towel wrapped around his thin torso.

He stood in front of the dresser. Up next was the grooming—a habit he had acquired fairly recently, courtesy of this nameless beauty. He had shaved his hair on the behind and had let the front hair grow longer, as was on vogue. His hair dresser had promised he would look like Shahid Kapoor, the Bollywood star. He stared helplessly at the hair grooming products on the dresser. He had no idea where to start. Oh, what the heck. He took a blob of Garnier extra strong gel and rubbed them across the palms of his hands and applied it generously on his hair. No, it did not in any way resemble Shahid’s perfect mane. He gave up and turned towards his facial pampering. He glanced at his watch. He was getting late for class and here he was preening like he was going on a date. Get a grip, he told himself. He quickly dabbed a Lotus sunscreen across his face and he was ready. He still had a few minutes to spare; so, he sprayed the new limited edition deodorant spray. Finally, he took a while to access his efforts and was just floundered at the result.

Still, he looked at his mirror and tried to smile his best. “Hi there, my name is Ramesh. How are you doing at the new school?”

“Ramesh, hurry up!” It was dad, Maya and his ride to school. All through the car drive, he kept jiggling his legs, wondering if he would be able to strike a conversation with the mysterious girl. Usually, he didn’t judge according to looks but he hadn’t seen anyone quite like her. Dark brown hair, dark eyelashes, almond shaped eyes and perfect pink lips. And he hadn’t seen a complexion so fair and flawless. He knew he needed to be rational but this was so difficult. His heart and mind seemed to clash. His heart was set to win this beauty but his mind was warning him of possible fall out. He 

knew from experience that most beautiful people were narcissists. But should he judge this girl by appearance? Could she be much more than her beauty?

The car stopped right outside the school. He stepped out and walked towards the classes designated for seniors and first up was English Literature. He stopped, dazed. There she was on the first row, arranging her notebooks and pens.  A studious type? He wondered.

Since she didn’t meet his gaze, disappointed, he walked towards the second row several desks away from her.

The class was on an Oscar Wilde novel—The Picture of Dorian Gray. Personally, he preferred science to literature but today he paid extra attention as he was curious about this girl. Maybe he would find out what she was like. A beauty with brains? The arty type? Or like himself a science whiz? The anticipation to know this creature was building in a scale he didn’t know was possible, despite his internal warning.

Finally the teacher arrived. There was silence and when he looked over, the girl was poised with a notebook and a pen. 

“The assignment for this class is the classic The Picture of Dorian Gray. Has anyone already read the book?”

He shot his hand up. That he wasn’t much into literature didn’t mean he would come unprepared for the class. He looked around. The only other raised hand was the girl whose name he didn’t know.

“Samantha, yes, tell us what you thought of the book?”

Yes! He gave himself a silly grin, having now known the name of the exotic being. The day seemed to be getting on to a great start.

“Well, ma’am, I didn’t like the book. I mean why would anyone go to lengths to protect their looks when we know beauty is skin deep and aging is inevitable. This pact with the devil just to be young seems absurd. Age is just a number and beauty isn’t just about appearance. Instead of focusing your time and energy on looks and obsessing about age and looks, we can be doing some character building.”

That is when he realised, this girl isn’t phony despite what they say about beautiful people. The rest of the class was a blur. He knew her name, little bit of her background (she had grown up in a countryside), she liked literature and had opinions, which were quite many. As he observed her more and more, he realised she wasn’t quite like the stereotyped beautiful girls. The class was over and it seemed they didn’t have any other classes besides English Literature together. All his other classes passed by in a stupor.

Back in the seclusion in his room, long after dinner and homework, he laid down on his bed and looked up to the ceiling and thought: is beauty really only skin deep?

He got up and went towards his dresser. He stood in front of the mirror and paused.  He paused deep in contemplation for a good long while.

Published: 29-05-2016 09:14

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