"Exhibiting You" - Story

+ Rebecca Says

Other authors: Photographs by Kruti Kothari, Written by Sowmya. S
Submitted: 04/09/2010

“I look really funny in photographs, are you sure you want me to be your model?” Rebecca’s question was full of doubts and uncertainty. However, her innocent smile gave away the truth – she was undoubtedly flattered by my request.

The very first time I walked into ‘Sparkle’, Rebecca’s beauty salon, I was enthralled by her docile behavior. A petite, smartly dressed woman in her mid-twenties with East-Asian features, Rebecca was hard to miss among the many other women in the salon. Struggling with her English, she asked me to wait for a bit while she blurred around attending her clients. On one end was a woman who had a never-ending list of questions about her new hairstyle, while on the other end was a woman who thought that she was the reincarnation of Cleopatra – slightly fairer – one who wouldn’t stop saying how good she looks and what magic Rebecca’s facial ‘should’ do to her already magical face. Well, I was losing my patience and started meddling with an imaginary prayer bead in-order to fight the urge to ask all those women to ‘Shut up’. I almost expected Rebecca to punch a hole into their faces. Strangely, nothing of that sort happened. Rebecca just smiled and answered all their questions and concerns. I was baffled. While getting my new fringes done, I already knew that I have found the woman I want to know about.

Our little chit-chat sessions commenced and the result was a story which touched me in its own way. When Rebecca shared her story, I realized that there was no groundbreaking or sympathy inducing tragedy in her life. Despite the missing drama what I felt was much stronger… Empathy, you could call it. She was like many other women who have had an imbalanced ratio of opportunities and responsibilities – the former being non-existent and the latter pertinent.

During one of the sessions when she was either pampering her clients with a refreshing head massage or performing a soothing pedicure, Rebecca confessed to me that she always wanted to write a story about herself but the never-ending race to make things possible dint quite render her the time for it. So, by all means these images through my eyes are a way of story telling her life to the outside world.

A job at Dominoes pizza for a mere $34 per month, is what the almost metropolitan Indian city of Bangalore offered Rebecca after she left her hometown Churachandpur (A district in Manipur, India). Having been brought up in a very liberal society, the conservative people in Bangalore scared her. Rebecca was often mistaken as a Chinese woman due to her oriental features. This notion built an invisible cultural barrier between Rebecca and the city inhabitants who refused to believe that she was Indian. Finding a job with a mere high school education and poor English knowledge was difficult by itself; the cultural issue substantially added on to it. However, she has had both good and bad experiences. The city bus drivers were good hearted and helpful while the greedy rickshaw drivers often tried to fleece her. Shuttling between cheap accommodations, tiring work hours and insufficient pay check, Rebecca was craving for a breath of fresh air – A job that would be something new and exciting.

The untimely death of her father increased responsibilities and as a means to provide a decent living for her family – Mother, Three sisters and three younger brothers, Rebecca started training under a beautician.

Matthew came along as a blessing to Rebecca. His care and affection brought her closer to love. He is her boyfriend, well-wisher, friend in need and an important reason for her happiness. Always having wanted to be an entrepreneur, Rebecca learned the required skills and with her boyfriend’s help, started her own beauty salon ‘Sparkle’. It was a dream come true moment for Rebecca, the moment that saved her from the fear of attending interviews and also freed her from working as a sub-ordinate.

Uncertainty prevailed during the initial days. Expenses were overboard, profit was meager and skilled helpers were almost impossible to find. There were many questions in her head: Will Sparkle be successful? Will I lose my investment? Will I make money? Will I get more clients?

Well, time was the only solution for all these questions.

As days passed, the crazy amount of hours she put into work and her pleasant behavior towards her clients were finally being rewarded. Sparkle was growing stronger. And so was Rebecca’s confidence. Times were tough, issues were many, but despite the inadequacies, Rebecca sees a sure positivity in her enterprise. Regular clients who are mighty pleased with her services are her rays of hope. She not only dreams, but is also very sure of a brighter tomorrow.

"From its inception, Sparkle has given me positive signs. Everyday I feel better and very confident about my little enterprise. It will become a big one, in due time” – while saying so Rebecca gave me one more of her innocent smiles.

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