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“Madam, it is fine. For identifying my true self, I have undergone many such incidents. But ultimately only I know with how much happiness I lead my life. Living under a fake identity is more painful than their words.”
Leya looked at herself in the mirror. Today was very special as she had finally found her freedom to live on her own terms. She sat on the chair and opened her makeup kit. Her fingers ran over the various cosmetics neatly decked in.
“Leya” a voice interrupted her. She felt so good that she did not want to respond immediately and wanted the person to address her again. She wasn’t Harish anymore. She did not need to live in the dark anymore. She moved in with her best friend Olivia, after finding her true self and with a lot of struggles with her now abandoned family.
Leya picked up the moisturizer and began practicing the process. She had completed the beautician course and had joined as a junior in one of the leading beauty parlors in the city. Her fingers moved like paintbrushes, making an enchanted beautiful lady before her. She was highly skilful and her hard work fetched her an immediate job.
This time Olivia was behind her.
“Oh started already? Alright! It is time for dinner, come soon lady.” She patted her back and left the room.
The next day, Leya, her boss Pavithra and their entire team were busy gearing up for the reception of a celebrity. Pavithra did the makeup herself. The bride looked prettier than ever and her family was pleased with their service.
As the bride was getting ready for the photoshoot, Leya knelt and adjusted her saree pleats. Suddenly a hand pushed her forcefully onto the ground. She lost her balance and fell to the floor. Everybody stood shocked seeing this.
It was the groom’s mother.
“How dare you touch my daughter-in-law, you filthy garbage? You are just an assistant who needs to provide what your boss needs. Take and give, that’s it. It is disgusting to even see your face.” Her words poured molten lava on Leya who was now sobbing.
“Get out of here at once, or else I shall cancel your appointment right away.”
“No Madam, please! I shall leave now,” saying so she rushed out of the room. All others felt sorry for her, including Pavithra, and at that moment she too felt helpless. She could have spoken back, but she did not want unnecessary chaos in a wedding as she was worried about the bride.
That night Pavithra met with Leya.
“I am so sorry. I never expected the groom’s family to be so uncultured.”
“Leya, you are truly brave.”
That incident made her think. Today it was the groom’s mother. Tomorrow it could be anyone. A myriad of questions filled her mind.
Should Pavithra Madam inform that a trans woman would also be on the team?
Should she skip bridal services and only focus on being in the parlor alone?
Should she show them proof of what she is capable of?
She had taken the most important decision of her life. Leya loved putting on makeup and hence she chose this as her profession. Just because some tiny obstacles were hindering her path, she was determined not to step back. After many thoughts on her next steps, she went to sleep.
Days rolled by and Leya began to get more customers in the parlour. For high-rated services, Pavithra discussed with her clients if they were fine to have Leya on the team because she did not want her to be embarrassed again. Still, there were derogatory comments unleashed at her. Weird looks were passed upon her and every time she bowed to hide her face, Pavithra stepped in and made her stand with confidence.
On a lazy weekend, Olivia and Leya were sipping their coffees.
“Leya, why don’t you start your own business?”
“It is not as easy as you say, Olivia.”
“Why, are you thinking about the financial aspects?”
“That’s one, to begin with. My concern is I do not have a brand name. People come for the parlor’s name and then choose me. Not vice versa.”
“Don’t make such statements, Leya. Try questioning them without Pavithra noticing,” winked Olivia.
Though it was risky, Leya gave it a shot. In casual conversation while she attended to them, she gathered information from her customers whether they came for her or for the parlor. Surprisingly, more of them came for her. Still, that did not give her the full confidence to begin her own parlor.
It was the month of June beginning and Olivia came rushing to Leya.
“Look at this!”
A viral video of top movie actress Jayanthi was circulated in which she was seen supporting the LGBTG community. Something struck Leya and she immediately tried to contact Jayanthi. It was a long path. After weeks Jayanthi agreed to meet Leya at her house.
Leya was all excited to see Jayanthi walking in a long gown. Even without much makeup, she looked pretty. Leya quickly explained how she was being treated and narrated the incidents that hurt her.
“What are you expecting from me, Leya? How can I help?”
“Madam, can I please do a makeup service for you?”
With a smile, she agreed.
“Alright, I have a photo shoot for a jewelry store. Be my artist!”
“Madam, thank you so much,” Leya cried in joy, folding her palms together.
Jayanthi was surprised to see Leya’s work. It was not just makeup, but according to the scenario, she brought out the emotions well.
The photo shoot turned out to be a big hit. Leya was praised by many celebrities who then recommended her for their shoots.
Leya rose to heights because of her hard work and dedication. She began to employ many such people and extended her support to those in need. Leya turned out to be the ideal role model for her community.
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As he stood in front of his door, Nishant prayed that his wife would be in a better mood. The baby thing was tearing them apart. When was the last time he had seen his wife smile?
Veena got into the lift. It was a festival day, and the space was crammed with little children dressed in bright yellow clothes, wearing fancy peacock feather crowns, and carrying flutes. Janmashtami gave her the jitters. She kept her face down, refusing to socialize with anyone.
They had moved to this new apartment three months ago. The whole point of shifting had been to get away from the ruthless questioning by ‘well-wishers’.
“You have been married for ten years! Why no child yet?”
I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
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