For some, it takes days and for others, just a moment that comes out of nowhere, for the courage to dawn, for you to take things by the storm. Call it serendipity maybe, in January 2016, while travelling on a Mumbai local train, Reva Pandit, an artist by profession, saw a woman looking out of the window.
She caught the woman’s attention when the latter caught her staring and gestured “What’s up?” That’s when Reva walked up to Seema Harindran Puthyapurayil, a Mumbai-based software designer, and explained why she was staring at her.
Reva revealed that the reason she was staring at Seema is because she drew a picture some time ago and the girl from her imagination, in the picture, looked exactly like Seema.
She showed her the picture and Harindran ‘flipped’. “It was an intricate, mesmerising, black and white sketch of a lady, who looked a lot like me even in the absence of colour. The same wide nose, large eyes, long chin and m-shaped hairline,” she wrote.
As the conversation continued, both of them decided that it was not an ordinary coincidence to ignore. So, they came up with the idea of bringing Reva’s to life by painting it on Seema’s face
Seema, who spent most of her life trying to run away from her skin colour, wrote,
“All my life I’ve been ridiculed for being dark skinned. The fair skin obsession in India doubled my self-esteem issues as a teenager and I was constantly discriminated against because of my dark skin.
The word “kali” (a dark skinned girl) haunted me because it was the word used by most people to mock my skin colour.
It reduced my identity to my skin colour and I’ve spent my whole life running away from this word. Until I met Reva Pandit, who completely flipped this word around for me, and added a whole new perspective to my life.”
“And just like that, she changed the definition of the word “kali” in my life. For the first time, someone had called me Kali (capitalised, meaning the goddess Kali) and I felt nothing but proud.
I had spent my whole life feeling sorry about being called kali and never once thought that I could just think of it as being like goddess Kali.
Reva needed to walk into my life with a smile and tell me that I looked like her interpretation of Kali.
“The sketch Reva had made was pen on paper, so on my way to her friend’s place, I wondered what I would look like. I thought she would probably paint my face white and then paint the black strokes over the white base. Her Kali also looked fierce and scary and I wondered if I could pull it off,” Seema wrote.
It took 8 hours for Reva to give life to her painting and Seema sure had some reservations about it.
“Did I want to appear scary? As women, we are always portraying ourselves as either happy, sweet or sexy.
No one intentionally puts a scary picture of themselves out there. I wondered about the audience of the pictures she would take and if the audience would dismiss me as too scary. Just at that moment, I remembered that the main point of this was Reva’s art and not me and I told my thoughts about appearances to take a hike.”
When Seema took a look at it, it flipped her life forever.
“The final product was magical. I was spellbound when I saw myself at the end. It was unconventional, scary and fierce. It raised a proverbial middle finger to our beauty standards, because we unwittingly also apply the same standards to goddesses.”
Like she ends her FB note, “So screw beauty standards. Be you. Channel a goddess. Heck, be a lovely, fierce, angry, empowered, Indian Goddess. There’s one inside each one of us.”
Now, that’s how fairy tales happen!
All the photos are sourced from Facebook.