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This is the first time I’m writing or talking about this little big incident that happened when I was 18. At this junction in my life, I think I’m really comfortable where I am with regards to how I feel about myself. Of course it wasn’t always like this. It took that one sentence in my life to turn my self perception around.

At that point in my life, it was all about being popular… about being a pageant queen or a supermodel or actress or some sort of celebrity! Mind you most of the friends & acquaintances I had back then are today really successful and some actually celebrities too much to my delight. I had been a tomboy for most of my teenage years & suddenly towards the end of it there was an overbearing need to change that..to ‘fit’ in or be left out. I got entangled in it so quickly I didn’t even realise it. Boys called me dude and girls didn’t get why I still wanted to go playing badminton or actually swim in the swimming pool and not look at the boys. How do you change a jeans, tshirt & trainers wearing girl to someone who’s at least remotely feminine…well… you enroll yourself for one of these random local fashion shows. It felt like such a mistake but it was too late before I realised that. I knew all the 16 other participants and they were either drop dead gorgeous or super feminine. We had to also audition to get into the show which didn’t sound too good. There was a lot of giggling and whispering as I walked into the big hall gingerly where the auditions were being held. I heard someone mutter ‘what’s she doing here’ and ‘oh god…really!’! I had borrowed a friend’s snug fitting clothes so that I ‘looked’ the part. We had to catwalk down a ramp and then the designer & choreographer of the show would decide who gets on. I actually enjoyed sashaying down despite the precarious heels. At the end of the auditions as we all sat down in the hall, I felt a little different.

‘Everyone except Tampha please sit on the seats left to the ramp!”, said the choreographer calmly.

What! Shit! I thought it wasn’t that bad. This couldn’t be happening to me. I’ll never be able to walk down the colony without a jeer or two I thought. What’ll everyone say! I’ll never get a boyfriend! I was singled out for my weird looks & being a tomboy I told myself.

The rest of the girls walked on to where they were supposed to. I could see their looks burn me down!

“Tampha come on the ramp and walk with Indranil & Celina. I’d like everyone to see how to walk down the ramp properly!”

GASP!!!! And lots more gasps apart from my own was heard across the hall & lots of rolling eyes too. My beauty queen friend who was also participating was also surprised. Did he just call me to show how to ‘walk’ on the ramp with the hottest models in town!!!?? Yes he did. And so the tomboy sashayed down the ramp and returned a catwalk model for that show! Of course I didn’t win any pageants or make it to any celebrity status or become a model anyway but that day I knew I was no longer just a tomboy.

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