Unsocial. Arrogant. Haughty. Proud.
These were the kind of adjectives they used about her.
Who was she?
Priscilla was born poor. But that was not all, society thought she was all of the adjectives above and more. She struggled to fit in anywhere she went.
When she was 5 years old, her father passed away. Her single mom raised her under immense hardships. But she ensured her daughter got a good education at a good school.
But Priscilla was different. She was strongly outspoken even from childhood. While other girls used to play with cute dolls and involve themselves with gossip, Priscilla spent time reading books, alone in the corner of her classroom. When she started reading she felt she was having conversation with the finest authors around the world and that invariably provided her with a much richer experience than the small talks girls her age were involved in. She just did not enjoy the small talks and gossip, they were not her thing.
At a younger age, girls her age would come to her asking her to play or hang out together. But she never felt like. For her socializing meant a waste of time. She knew every second counts. She could utilize the time wasted in gossip in creative pursuit or reading another novel or a book.
Her mother noticed this trend in her, but she felt probably this was out of the trauma of losing her father at an earlier age. But Priscilla did not even recall her father any more, she had found the love, her father could have given her, in her mom. Her mom meant the world to her. And books, yes. Books were like family.
She thought, there was so much to learn and so little time. The vault of knowledge, oh, how could she read all of it. She was sure no one could, so she wanted to spend her time finding the rare pearls.
With time she passed school. She had always been good and always passed with flying colors, but she did not have any friends, apart from her mom and of course her books.
But as she entered teenage, she started reading different kinds of novels. She read about the handsome prince who rescued Cinderella from her evil aunt. She read about the Shakespearean love as depicted by Romeo and Juliet. She would read and somewhere deep inside, she longed for her Prince too.
But she had a terrible image outside home. Yes. Those same adjectives.
Unsocial. Arrogant. Haughty. Proud.
She did not know how to change herself and understood that her behavior was so much different than the female protagonists in all the romantic novels she read.
Sometimes when alone she would try to emulate those characters. She would put her spectacles down, put on a fancy gown, then some eye liner and red lipstick. She would accentuate her beauty with shapely outfits and then pose in front of her mirror, wondering, if she looked desirable.
Sometimes her mom would suddenly enter and she would immediately try to hide herself from her eyes and blush.
"My baby, oh you look so beautiful!"
"Mom, I cannot be myself in this."
"Why baby, you look beautiful, don't you see?"
"Mommy, haven't you heard, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. But everyone sees only external beauty?"
"Yes baby, I understand what you say. But that is the way of the world. Even for books, don't you tend to judge a book by it's cover?"
"Yes mommy, but this is superficial me. This is not the real me, you see? This lipstick, this 'maskara', this foundation, this face cream, all these are external agents meant to hide the real me! What we see with our eyes, we perceive and judge. But this understanding of beauty, this, I feel is so much flawed. Don't you think?"
"Well, honey, we all need to be presentable when others look at us. Girls your age spend so much time looking desirable, do you know? People can't see what's inside you dear, neither do they want to see, they want the smooth exterior, they want it to be eye catching, glittering like diamonds. Even in animals, when they mate, one of the mates try to woo the other by displaying his or her uniqueness."
"So, mom, then in matters of love we are emulating animals? How about the much celebrated human intellect? Is that just for the books and research papers, not applicable to life and love?"
"Honey, you don't understand. It's not like that. Okay, leave it to me. I shall find you someone. Oh my girl is so desperate for her love!"
"Please, mom. I am not desperate for love. I am just trying to figure out how it works today and if it is superficial. And sorry, I cannot leave it to you. I know, all you would do is try to showcase me like a product to prospective people. They would come, inquire about my features, check my 'warranty' and then they will decide if they want me or not. Sorry, mommy, not my thing."
Her mom was visibly disturbed now.
"Okay, do whatever you like. You seem to understand too much. May be you should not have read so much."
"I am glad I read, mom. I am really glad. Don't worry about me. I am a tough nut to crack and I'll do what I think would be right for me."
Her mom stormed out of the room.
Years passed. Priscilla completed her education and bagged a handsome job, but never for a moment surrendered her ideals or her theory of an ideal love. She was prepared to wait, if needed, for a lifetime for that perfect love to come by.
She intended no compromise on her choice of her prince.
But somehow it was not clicking. Her firebrand image meant that guys would generally be very cautious approaching her. They hardly could penetrate her hard shell. None could see the little girl inside waiting patiently for her prince.
But then she met someone on social media. It was interesting really. She had got into an argument with someone about objectification of women to sell commodities on a public forum post. The guy thought scantily clad women could help sell any product as long as the marketing pitch was right. This, she found objectionable and resulted in a heated exchange of words. While most people defended the guy, there was this gentleman who supported her and provided strong arguments that finally helped end the ugly spat. The way he communicated, it told volumes about his depth of knowledge around marketing and more importantly about upholding the dignity of women.
Out of curiosity, she quickly visited his profile and saw that he was an online instructor for corporate and a poet, outside his job. "Interesting", she thought. Right then, a friend request popped up. It was him. She accepted it.
He did not text her right away and neither did she. But then the conversations began and both of them would chat for hours. Effortless chat.
It was as if both of them knew each other for years. Finally, Priscilla thought she would meet him, but for some reason, every time the thought was put across, he would postpone it. While, initially, she did not read much into it, with time, it raised a suspicion.
Was he avoiding her?
Was he avoiding getting closer?
Did he have any feelings for her?
Was there any other reason?
She had no idea. Still they would chat.
But one day she really grew impatient and demanded that they meet at a cafe, at least have a cup of coffee together, nothing more.
He was silent for a while, but then he agreed.
That day, Priscilla was going to be meeting someone who for the first time ever had made an impact on her heart. She could not wait to see him. She took hours in front of the mirror practicing how she would greet him. She wanted to make a good impression. She dressed appropriately for the occasion and applied very light make-up.
Before going out she gave him a call.
"Hi, which table you will be at?"
"Okay... I am on my way."
"Sure, I have almost reached."
Priscilla hurried out. It took her cab exactly 10 minutes to reach the destination, the most happening cafe in her town. She always loved being here. Nice ambiance and excellent coffee range along with some spicy snacks.
She entered and looked at table number 4 from a distance. A young man in his sunglasses was sitting there. She quietly went there and asked, "Sameer?"
"Hey, Priscilla! Have a seat!"
"Hey, take your sunglasses off. It's not sunny here."
There was a moment of silence.
"You really want me to?"
"Yes, why not."
Sameer gradually removed his sunglasses.
And Priscilla immediately understood that all her make-up and attire had been futile. He could not see!
He gradually said, "I... I am sorry. May be I should have told you before. Are you going to leave, Priscilla?"
She sat down.
Without saying a word, she took his hands in hers.