Your face is responsible for a multi-million dollar industry. There are creams, powders,gels,soaps ,face – washes, etc. They promise you things like a healthier , pimple-free, wrinkle-free, dark-spots free, and fairer skin. There is definitely a big section of our society that is obsessed with fair skin. I was too when I was 10. I never had a dark skinned friend,then. I had this notion that dark meant poor and dirty. It didn’t matter that I was the darkest amongst all my friends. I was just being a jerk. I grew up, I travelled, I read and I saw a movie in which Morgan Freeman was acting and of course looked into the mirror and I soon realised that the colour of your skin has got nothing to do with the kind of person you are or can be. ( Even though “Fair and Lovely” has been telling me for ages that I am ugly, depressed and unsuccessful only because I am not fair.)
My face or anybody else’s may not be an important factor in deciding mine or their worth but I know of a man for whom his face changed his life forever- Hari kaka. Hari kaka is a tailor. He has a small shop on a very busy street in Pune. Some 6 years ago I was desperately trying to get my extra-large playing t-shirts altered to my small size. There were some 8 shops of tailors on the road and everybody told me that they couldn’t do it for various reasons. I finally landed on the last shop which was Hari kaka’s and for the first time in my life I saw a face that was absolutely scary and hence unforgettable.
Hari kaka’s face is completely disfigured. One side of the face is smashed inward and the eye is almost out and it doesn’t shut. One side of his nose is broken, hence it looks absolutely abnormal and kind of pasted externally to his face. I couldn’t look at him for too long. There was a man, his friend Keshav sitting on the shop and I spoke to him. He asked Hari kaka if he would do it. He looked at me with that one blinking and the other not blinking eye and nodded. I was extremely unsure about giving him my valuable t-shirts, though I was desperate too. So I gave him the t-shirts anyways.
For the last 6 years now I have been giving all my t-shirts and clothes that need alteration to him and there has never been a mistake. Hari kaka is not a big talker. Though being my curious self on one rainy afternoon I being stranded in his shop , I asked his friend Keshav, about the mystery of that crooked face and Hari kaka.This is what he told me.
“Hari comes from small village on the outskirts of Kolhapur. He was an extremely good looking guy. He was so good looking that when once a film crew came to shoot some scenes in the village, they gave him a small role. He was the village hero. He got married and got a handsome dowry too. His wife was the most educated and pretty looking woman in the village. Hari loved his wife. He was a great husband. He worked hard for both their future. All was going well and then the accident happened. He suffered physical injuries which healed but his face was completely disfigured. He didn’t have the money for a plastic surgery. So he looks the way he does. After the accident the love between the husband and wife vanished. The only thing he saw in his wife’s eyes was pity and disgust. Months after the accident she ran away with an other guy. Hari was shattered. There was the pain of losing his wife, the insensitive society and an ugly face. He sold everything he owned in the village and came here in the city. He was unknown here and nobody cared how he looked. He has been stitching and staying alone in this small kholi for fifteen years now. “
Whenever I look at Hari kaka there is some amount of sadness that always engulfs me. In that eye that never blinks there must be so much pain,anger and loneliness. I wish in those thousand creams and soaps in the market there was one that could give him his face back. Though I really wonder if he would use it today. I think it’s too late!
Hari kaka’s answer to the question, “What’s in a face?” is so totally different from mine. When my friend cribs about a pimple on her face I remind her about Hari kaka and she immediately changes the subject.