When Princess Diana Descended Into My Living Room…

“Trust me, being a princess isn’t all it's cracked up to be”, she retorted. “I suffered too. I had bulimia. I was body shamed too. It is exhausting; it is exhausting even for a princess, honey”

Weird sounds escaped through my mouth as I huffed and puffed lying down on a blue yoga mat. The ‘plank position’ had me plonked on all fours sooner than the woman instructing on the video would have liked. While I sprawled looking like a deflated balloon the lady announced, ‘And smile’.

‘Smile my sh*t’, I cursed under my breath sweating like a pig. A few minutes passed, though to my ‘tired to the bones’ body it felt like an eternity. On a whim I stared down hoping to see a somewhat flat tummy if not those promised washboard abs. But, all I could see was a grotesque mess of a stomach which seemed to be poking fun at me.

While people were making lemonades in this pandemic, I was still a flabby woman in her late thirties who spent the better part of her day watching Netflix and imagining herself having the body of JLO. I have a husband too but he is out traveling every few weeks and when this demonic pandemic took the lives out of the unsuspecting world, he was somewhere in Germany. He got stuck there while I was left here alone in our swanky three bedroom flat in Delhi. I am pretty sure though that my husband is pleased to be away from me and the virus has given him an excuse to do so. But, I can use this time to metamorphose myself into a Greek Goddess and when he is back he would look at me with his mouth agape and utter, ‘You look fabulous’.

Yes, I am a day dreamer. I like to picture vivid details in my head even if they have a remote chance of coming true. So, the truth was I was fat and alone and a virus had rendered me home watching Netflix and doing planks and jumping jacks with my rigid body.

It was eight in the morning and the sun was upon me in its full glory. Pulling the curtains I switched on the TV and scrolled to zero down on something that could soothe my frayed nerves. And just then my eyes locked on to a picture of a woman smiling at me with her mystic eyes and inadvertently I pressed the ‘play’ button.

Moments transpired, images ran through the TV screen one after the other unraveling the contours in the strange life of the most photographed woman in the world. I stared at her without blinking my eyes, I grimaced at those who bludgeoned her to an untimely death and I wondered what if she were alive today.

“What are you thinking about”, a soft voice woke me up from my reverie and I stared at the woman who uttered those words, with disbelief.

Is this for real? I gawked at her like a naïve teenager.

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Standing in front of me was the woman herself – Diana, Princess of Wales.

I was too stupefied to say anything.

“Where am I? Who are you lady?” she looked at me questioningly.

“This is preposterous. How is this even possible? You must be the figment of my imagination”, I exclaimed with a sense of urgency in my voice.

“There must be a reason for my presence, I believe. So, let us chat. Tell me something about yourself”, she smiled.

She looked like a million bucks in that black dress. What was it called back then…yes ‘The Revenge Dress’. She had worn it the day her husband had confessed of his illicit affair with another woman.

I could not believe my luck. People were alone and locked in their houses and I had Princess Diana for company. May be I was cuckoo after all. But, who cares. I decided to play along.

“I am Meera and you are currently in my house. This is the Indian capital city, New Delhi and it is June 2020”.

“Really 2020? My gosh. I am in India? Ohh I love India. I have been here and I have been to Taj Mahal and I met Mother Teresa”.

“Well Mother Teresa is no more. She passed away a few days after your demise”, I mumbled and it suddenly felt morbid.

She looked at me as if waiting for me to continue and expecting information galore. She wanted updates. I got that. I too would want to know what goes with the world if I come back from the dead. Most of all I would want to know if my husband is still the moron that he was when I was alive.

“You became quite a phenomenon after your untimely demise. You are truly heralded as the Queen of People’s Hearts”, I looked at her with admiration.

“What about my sons? How did they turn out? They must have been devastated with my death”, she stared out the window and instantly the shine in her eyes was gone.

“They turned out to be wonderful. You have four adorable grandkids. Your sons are following your footsteps and have continued to support your charities. And Harry just gave up his royal title because he didn’t want his wife and kid to become stifled and face the constant pressure and judgment –just like you. The paparazzi haven’t stopped violating people’s privacy even now. That hasn’t changed.”

Her brows furrowed and it seemed as if she was letting everything sink in. And then she stood up as if collecting herself.

“Thank you. Now let us talk about you Meera. What is the deal with you? Why were you killing yourself a little while ago making whacky postures?”

I shifted and felt a wee bit embarrassed.

“Oh nothing. Just keeping fit. You wouldn’t understand. You are a princess. You have always been this svelte beauty with a figure to die for.”

She smirked. Yes, she did.

Trust me, being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be”, she retorted. “I suffered too. I had bulimia. I was body shamed too. It is exhausting; it is exhausting even for a princess, honey”.

I stared at her shiny persona and wondered why happiness eluded even a princess.

She continued speaking with an unabashed fervor, “Who are you trying to please Meera? Keeping fit is a good thing but doing it to prove something to someone or to feel adequate in someone’s eyes is outright trash”.

Holy Molly! Can she see through me or what…

“How can you put yourself in my shoes? You are Lady Diana … I am a nobody. I am a sad plump woman who yearns for love.” I felt tears clouding my eyes.

“I have been there Meera. Oh I have been there. It’s 2020, and still even today the biggest disease of this day and age is that of people feeling unloved”.

The tears now trickled unabated. Suddenly, nothing mattered. The garb of normalcy that I had hitherto worn over me like a blanket, lifted and suddenly I was myself – Meera, a girl who loved her reflection and who preened in the mirror loving her true unadulterated self with abandon. Why the hell was I becoming someone else and for what?

She held my hand as if she could discern what wrecked my being.

And just then we had a moment. In that fraction of a second, she was not Lady Diana – Princess of Wales and I was not Meera the woman who tried hard to fit in, but we were just two women who just wanted to be themselves.

I woke up with a jolt and realized I was sweating profusely. I looked around. She was nowhere to be seen. The TV screen flickered and the documentary “Diana: The People’s Princess” stared at me.

I smiled.

I had made a decision, right then. It had taken a princess to jolt me and see my worth.

“Watching Netflix is not always bad”, I mumbled, grinning from ear to ear.

*****

Author’s Note: Princess Diana’s 26th death anniversary is on August 31st 2023.

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About the Author

Meha Sharma

Meha has worked as a Business Analyst in an elite IT firm and as a full time professor in management colleges. Having earned an MBA degree in Human Resource Management and an MA degree in read more...

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