Monday, February 21, 2011

Short Stuff

__

The other day, on my walk, I went past a school. The bell had just rung and there were children running out of the gate like a wildebeest migration. I suddenly noticed that almost all of them were taller than I was. This was amusing because I am, after all, a senior citizen with two strands of grey hair to my credit. I said, "Excuse me, excuse me" meekly and dodged past them like a young-at-heart nimble aunty.

I then started thinking about my school days and how I was always the first person in the line during assembly. This unfair height order rule meant that I could never mumble my way through the million bhajans we had to sing every morning. I had to sing with utmost devotion, closed eyes and all. It also meant that I could only stand next to short boys in other classes. I have nothing against short boys but I'm not very interested in them. I'm sure they have good hearts and all that, but unless the rest of them is like Surya, it's very unlikely that I'd be interested. I'm only five feet tall though.

During Games class, the PT Sir would yell 'HEIGHT ORDER!' and everyone would immediately look at me. I'd hunch up my shoulders and pretend that I was taller than the second shortest in class, but I wasn't fooling anyone. The second shortest would have a smug expression on her face, bordering on a sneer. (Her name was Srividhya, by the way. Hey, Steevidhya, if you are reading this, I hope you feel ashamed of your insensitive, appalling behaviour. ) This meant that I was first in the line once again and I had to get my LEFT-RIGHT-ABOUT TURN coordination correctly.

Which I never managed to do. I didn't have the advantage of following the person in front of me, so I was extremely stressed out by this whole process of turning left and turning right and turning about like a top with a screw loose.

Here's some embarrassing trivia: when Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai won their respective crowns, my cousin and I were convinced that the only worthwhile ambition to have in life was to become beauty queens ourselves. We used to collect their pictures and eat carrots every day for glowing skin. Okay, stop smirking, I was in Class IV and yet to develop into the formidable intellectual that I am now. Okay? Okay. Sadly, I had to give up on this dream because I just didn't grow beyond five feet. Oh, the cruel jokes of fate!

Like a good Mallu girl, I only drank tea throughout my childhood. I was thus deprived of Complan, my last shot at adding some inches, by my mother's theory that anything bottled is bad for you. Except disgusting arishtams from vaidyashalas. I stopped growing after seventh standard and from Facebook, I understand that some of my classmates are still growing. So you can imagine. There I was, a shrimp in a sea of sharks. Despite the high-heels that I tried wearing during my teen years.

College was marginally better. I met more short people but I was invariably the shortest. The hand-rest for the tall beings. I was endearingly referred to as 'Short Stuff'. We had aerobics in college and I was, once again, first in line. Now, if I can't turn left or right or about turn correctly, I can't dance either. So I'd mostly stand there like an octopus, waving my limbs about in a friendly fashion. The aerobics instructor, who was Kala Master's less-famous sister, by the way, would shake her head at my abysmal performance but I at least managed to fix a charming smile on my face. You see, by then, I'd come to terms with what I looked like and everything. Not that I was convinced I was a trilokasundari, but I realized that this was what I was going to look like and no amount of angst was going to change that. Gone were my high heel days. I only wore chappals and adopted the JNU-look. You know, kurta, jolna, kajal types.

But it's only when I started working that I realized what a great advantage my height (or lack of it) was. At five feet, you don't threaten people with your physical appearance. Most people tend to look at you as some sort of overgrown child. This might sound like a disadvantage, but I've found that one can actually get away with making the most in-your-face statements because your colleagues will have a somewhat-indulgent attitude towards you. If you are intelligent and articulate, you will win additional points for being so because you are also short. Murthy sirisu naalum kirti perusu types. Tall people, on the other hand, just end up sounding like boring coat-suit types giving gyaan.

You can also give orders and have them executed without sounding like a beeyatch. All you have to do is make yourself look extra short and at the same time, very serious indeed. Being short, I'd say, has been a key factor so far in my rapport building with bosses. I could joke around and write tongue-in-cheek emails without putting myself in danger. It's all very Tenali Rama-like, you know. The jester tells the king home-truths and gets covered in gold coins for being rude.

When my parents decided that holy matrimony was to descend upon me, they wondered if M was "too tall" for me. The thought never entered my head, though. I was convinced I was beyond splendid by then. I don't know if M thought I was "too short" for him and now is probably a dangerous time for him to make such confessions, so I shall leave it at that. The photographer for our wedding, however, was much amused by the disparity in our respective heights. He asked me if I could stand on a stool while doing the photos that he was going to paste inside sunflowers and hearts and what not. I was already pissed off because I was dressed-up and I flatly refused to do so. As a result, while you can see the whole of M in our romantic profile photos in the wedding album, I appear like a bodiless head. Ah well, at least, I have a fabulous face.

I hadn't thought about my height in a really long while and it was only when I was running amongst the school children that I remembered my angsty days. I saw one short child in the crowd and I wanted to tell her not to feel bad about it. Someday, these tall people will take orders from you and what's more, they will think you are an advanced-level funny genius. Trust me, it will happen.

23 comments:

buddy said...

Hilarious!

keep writing

shru.. said...

kickass.. :)
been reading al ur posts for a long time now, but never had commented! but for this i found myself compelled to..cos i totallyyy empathise :D
been through al dat in school..:p but nw as u say..i don give a damn!:)
PS:All great things come in small packages \m/

Raj said...

Heartening to see the amount of positivity you have brought to the content despite all the supposed shortcomings, which is pretty unfathomable unless you involve philosophy.

The Visitor said...

@GB - same pinch. :)

Srinivas said...

Absolutely brilliant: especially expressions such as a "shrimp in the sea of sharks" and "turning about like a top with a screw loose" :D

I am not especially short (a few inches short of six the last time I saw and I suppose I have not grown since!:D) but I pretty much went through similar PT master torments at school. In fact, I dreaded them PT hours more than even my Mathematics classes which came a close second! ;) Thanks for reminding me of my school days with this post :)

And oh yes, I have this dear friend who is short, who also has quite an entertaining take on it: she shares her birthday with Einstein and all :D. And here's her post:

http://trivialquestionsandunrelatedanswers.blogspot.com/2010/04/long-and-short-of-things.html#comments

Chandrima said...

Really nice one, I used to be a long one till class VII and then suddenly after summer vacation I saw all the girls who used to stand before me were standing behind me (meaning- could whisper and talk while prayer!), it was so unfair, and then there were many struggles from my mother to make me tall (100 skipping a day and so on) as my maternal and paternal families are tall kind of people and I was like a missing link there! Though with Sudip I was very comfortable but I always felt my lack of height while doing experiments in labs full of heavy machines! So I ended up believing height does matter GB :-( But on the same I have find solace with lack of it also and with your blog it came to my mind after a long time!!

Jasper said...

@GB.
My daughter is like you only dear !
She is very intelligent and hard-working and earn the name out-going student where ever she goes. She feels for being short till she finished her engineering course. She is the university rank holder. After that she went to U.S with scholarship and teaching assistance ship and now one more semester to finish her M.S. She got placed in Amazon.com. She did her internship training during last year vacation and got a very good name there.
Whenever she feels for her height 5 feet, I told her "Murthy sirisu analum keerthi perisu."I now only came to know you are a female.
I used to tell her that overgrowing will make to look like an old lady and many will ask and worry about your age and marriage more than us and this may not be the case in your problem and I won't never allow to feel for height.

vishesh said...

hmm...I am 6 ft and 1 or something... :P I never realized that was tall until I got out of school...

Oh! and I am might not become popular but I can intimidate a lot of people by putting my hands on my hips and look wide as well as big :D

The worst thing of course is I tend to look over short people when talking to them...

The Bride said...

With regard to the last line, remember Hitler? Only kidding.

I am 5"3 and my husband calls me shorty because he comes from a family of giants. I point out to him that at least I don't have to hunch over and crunch up on long flights. Being tall is overrated imo.

Kookaburra said...

Totally rocked! Absolutely hilarious. I am 5 feet, I can write this when prax is not here to contend that I am 4' 11.5'' only! :) and I teach in college :)
The crazy thing is Daya is already half my height at 2, taking after dad! :) But hey I am taller than my mom and all three chiththies and with my fat I look like a giant among them! :)

I totally loved that right-turn-left-turn part - havent stopped laughing! :)

smartassbride said...

I think you are an advanced-level funny genius and I'm not even tall.

Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Rotfl. Splendid !! Steevidhya u must be really ashamed

THINKOPOTAMUS said...

so good to get back to reading you again. last time you were out of the country, and i thought you'd stopped blogging. very happy to know you're better than ever. :-)
and congratulations.

Vini said...

Three cheers for the 'march past' girls :D
My only participation in inter school sporting events was in marching because they could never find three girls short enough!

Spunkysaturnine said...

I was second shortest so yaay! :) Loved this!

Anu said...

i was one of those who had no choice but to stand first and sit on the front bench forever, and wished i could go and sit on the last bench at least once :) but then, as u say, i came to terms with it too, esp when i started travelling by local trains and realised how easy it was for me to wriggle in and out amidst the huge crowds:) loved reading this one!

GB said...

@Buddy- Thank you!

@Shru- Hehe. Can't agree more ;)

@Raj- Now I feel like I've been reviewed by The New York Times :D

@The Visitor- Finally, the mysterious OTee reveals something about what he looks like!

@Srini- Read it :D We used to have especially horrid PT Sirs. I think I escaped because I was female...short boys had it harder!

@Chandrima- Lol...height matters according to the context. Tall people can't sleep comfortably on buses/planes/trains...or even inside tents! They never get pretty shoes either :)

@Jasper- :D I hope she makes peace with her height soon.

@Vishesh- Not being noticed works awesome a lot of times. You can just slip in and slip out and never get caught!

@The Bride- Overrated it sure is. I can't stand tall people who act cute. Short ones, I can forgive.

@Kookaburra- Psstt...I'm only 4"11.5 too! But I believe in rounding off!

@Smartassbride- Heh! Thanks!

@Anon- I hope she is. Stoopid Stee.

@Thinkopotamus- Glad to have you back here! I feel more important than ever before now that I have a celebrity reader :D

@Vini- Hehe. Yeah, school comes up with the strangest ideas!

@Spunky- Steevidhya!!! I'm coming after you with a pitchfork!!

@Anu- :D Cheers to that!

Raj said...

:D

SV said...

When i read Linda Goodman for the first time i thought she had me in mind when she wrote about my star... and this is the second time in my life i feel somebody has got into my head and recalling all what i went thru as a child/ adult!!!
Yr story is so amazing close to mine.. luv the right- left-above turn part. I used to think i was good in march-past n thats why i was given the honor of first row / right corner..Now i know what all that was about!!! will make sure i keep reading your posts from now on..

Sue said...

Nah... My bff is a shortie and I make sure she never forgets how much cooler my height is. (She retaliates by pointing out her better boobs. Also, after childbirth my tummy can no longer stare hers in the face.) Still, I am taller and therefore cooler!

Sasi-pository said...

Hello mallu girl! Nice writing... Keep going. Uyarangal iniyum ninne thedi ethattey....

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