by Aishwarya Pahwa
It is hard to be dumped thrice, it is even harder to be dumped thrice by the same person. Some people chided me for not seeing the obvious. Jerry only came to my house at 7 p.m., when he felt hungry after driving the cab all day. I said it’s all right, I’m a great cook and there is nothing wrong with craving my peach pie. Jerry sometimes came in the morning as well to take a shower, after a long shift. I said it’s all right, there is nothing wrong with a man who wants to look presentable at his job. Jerry also used to borrow my credit card for his weekend trip with his boys. I said it’s all right, I want to spoil my man. Jerry used to dump me on the 13th of February of every year and then made up with me again on the 17th of March, which was the day after my birthday. This way he didn’t have to give me any attention or buy me any gifts.
It took me a long time to realise that I deserved more than a bum as a boyfriend. It took a lot of self- reflection, self-esteem building and exorbitantly expensive therapy sessions to get me to where I am now. I deserve to have a life full of adventure, spontaneous delight, and unbound love.
It has been more than a month since we broke up. I’m doing pretty well. I have been doing a morning routine of sorts lately; it involves standing in front of the mirror and reading all my post-it notes stuck around it. They have to be recited with utmost belief, while maintaining strong eye contact with my reflection.
“I’m strong and beautiful.”
“I have glass skin.”
“I have 20/20 vision.”
“I don’t have thyroid. Thyroid? What even is that? Never heard of it before.”
I make myself some chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and open my mail. My mother has sent me a 1000 dollar gift card for Mirror Mirror on the Wall (a high end beauty salon). I decided to cash it in today itself, not that I need a makeover. But I am allowed to show myself some self-love today.
I enter the salon and walk straight to the receptionist. She seemed surprised to see me at first. The thing is that the clients, as well as the employees of Mirror Mirror on the Wall all look like Victoria Secret Models. I kind of feel sorry for them sometimes. Though they all look absolutely perfect, most of them don’t have something that I have. A healthy body image. And tits.
I greet the receptionist and she asks me to take a seat. A few moments later one of the employees walks up to me and smiles affectionately.
“You know today is your lucky day mam, we have a 40% discount for all mothers-to-be or new mothers this month. You see Jessica Price there? She is the owner of this establishment. She is the one who came up with this idea. She gave birth to twins just a month ago!”
The lady pointed towards a woman in a red dress, standing in the corner talking to a customer. She had a huge smile on her face and was talking animatedly. She had the stomach of a 20 year old, or someone who had never even been penetrated before in her life. There was no swell whatsoever.
Now I could have been offended by this lady’s remarks. I wasn’t pregnant. I was just the opposite of pregnant actually–I was single. Happy and single. But I can’t let myself get bothered by such silly things. I am above all that now. I have matured. So I decided to go along with it. Anyway, who in their right minds would not want a 40% discount.
“That is really generous of her.” I get up from the couch with some effort, with one hand on my belly, playing the part obviously.
We walked up to a swivel chair and she made me comfortable with cushions on all sides, “So what can I do for you today?”
“I was thinking of getting a hair trim and some colour.”
She took my hair in her hands and pulled it up to its length. Then she started just combing my scalp with her hands as if searching for something. “Boy pregnancy can be so hard on a woman’s hair sometimes. Like it’s so not fair! I mean you’re giving life to a PERSON, the least your body can do is behave.”
“God there is no volume left at all. When did it start to go so thin?”
“Uhm, from the very first month itself I think.
“Do you want to get a hair spa as well with your hair cut? We have a combo package that you can opt for. The colouring is separate of course.”
“Sure why not.”
She walked away to get something from the reception counter. I made eye contact with myself in the mirror in front of me. I tried to recite my go-to-positive affirmations but the eyes staring back from the mirror, looked soulless all of a sudden. I was trying to take this pregnancy thing in jest but a heaviness had started to set over me now. She came back with a book of hair colours for me to select from.
“Let’s start with a trim shall we?” I nodded and started browsing through the book. When I looked up at her reflection in the mirror in front of me, I saw her staring at my legs.
“Do you perhaps, maybe want to get a honey-wax as well?” The dress I was wearing had come up to my knees and in the well-lit solan light, my bare legs were looking a little hairier than normal. I said I didn’t need it as curtly as I could muster.
“It is pretty normal during pregnancies to be honest, your hormones go haywire and anything can happen. I mean, ask me girl, during the pregnancy of my first child I had started growing a moustache just like yours. Every morning I was waking up and using my husband’s blade to shave. It was a scary time…”, she chuckled.
“Yeah I get it. But you know what, I love accepting myself with all my flaws. I am only human, so I let myself be that sometimes. And nobody is perfect. I mean, I have seen the makeup-less pictures of some actresses online. And…” I raise my eyebrows to indicate that they were not much to look at.
“Oh for sure! I have seen some of them in flesh girl! For one of them, and I really can’t say who, we actually had to paste fake hair above her eyes. When she walked into the salon, she looked like Voldemort from those magic movies! It was scaaaary! But you know, you are blessed with big bushy eyebrows, they are really great. So much to work with….. if you want me to shape them for you, just let me know.
“Thanks, I’m good.”
A man with a pink floral shirt, white pants, and a swaying hip walked up to us. He started whispering something to the woman cutting my hair when he saw me and stopped in his tracks.
“Oh my God! Congratulationssssss. How far along are you?”
“Uhmm, three months…almost.”
“Three months! Yikes, are they triplets? Do you know yet?”
“Twins.” I managed to say, blinking away some tears.
“You know our establishment has some connections with the gym across the street–Fitness High. They give our customers 10% off. If you want, and obviously after the delivery of course, you can shed some of that weight very easily with their help. They are truuuly tremendous! I lost 10 kgs myself with their help.” He twirled so I could check him up from all angles.
I raised my eyebrows and nodded slowly to show him that I appreciated his new figure, but I was starting to get a lump in my throat. “Yeahhhh, I want to keep some of my curves though, you know. I kind of like my hour-glass figure, and plus if you look at Liz…”
“Oh yeah hour-glass figures are the besttttt, all I’m saying is that all of that excess sand, it’s leaking out darling.” He cackled as if it was the quip of the century. I thought gay men had a good sense of humour.
“Yeah I actually…”, there was an obvious crack in my voice now.
“Oh my goddd. Are you okay?” He crouched beside me.
I put my head down, and covered my face with my hands. Tears were leaking out in full flurry now. The more I tried to control them, the more fiercely they came out. The whole place had gone completely silent. Every hair-dryer, every sink, every conversation had come to a halt. I felt every person’s eye on me.
After what felt like eternity, I wiped my tears, and waved my hands in front of my face. “It’s just my hormones.”
I came back home when it was quite late in the night. Walking on the streets, directionless, had helped me feel numb. I went to my bedroom and looked in the mirror. My hair cut was extremely unflattering, and my hair colour made me look like a human tomato. That lady had convinced me to get my pores cleaned too, so my face was covered with dots and small pits, some of them bleeding. I read the post-it notes around my mirror, and then looked back at my reflection. They couldn’t do shit for me today. When I needed them most.
My phone buzzed in my pocket. It was a text from Jerry, a single word: ‘Hey.’ I checked the date on my phone, it was past midnight now. It was the 17th of March.