Growing up in a Kashmiri family wasn’t very easy. We were Kashmiris who had migrated to Delhi well before the Partition so we didn’t know the language and literally had zero connection to the Motherland.
But sort of like NRIs who love KJo movies, we liked to keep our traditions alive by meeting all Kashmiri Pandits twice a year, in a thing called The Jalsa.
It was a very exciting affair. People dressed in their finery, gold atehroos with pashminas, beautiful sarees, beautiful women and amazing food. Lots of gossip and bitching and tons of fake smiling.
The last time I attended one of these things, I was a teenager with a growth spurt and a healthy smattering of acne. I entered the venue in my best clothes, excited for what that year would bring and was assaulted by ooohhss and Tut tuts from a group of women. They looked at me like you would, a hurt puppy. Needless to say they were totally beautiful, bloody flawless and there I was, thin as a Reed, crooked teeth and just Acne. Suffice to say my confidence was shattered and I vowed to never attend one again. Thankfully my parents also had had enough and we stopped attending.
That one little incident had a huge impact on me. I refer to it often. It was a good example of What Not to do. Also it instilled in me the thought that I wasn’t physically pretty. I lived with that thought for at least 2 more decades. Even today, when someone compliments me on my physical appearance, I go back to my 13 year old self instantly, and more often than not, I don’t know how to accept the compliment.
Moral of the story, Be Kind. To everyone. You don’t know what your words/actions can do. Build people up, don’t strip them down.