I’ve noticed them on the side of the road – there were four of them. They were standing, whispering, giggling shyly, lowering their eyes when they met mine. They’ve had beautiful maroon uniforms and braids like bagels. I knew that they were talking about me – a white girl in an Indian village is not an everyday view.
“Can I take a picture of you?” – I asked.
They were embarrassed: “No, no”, they waved in disapproval but I’ve noticed some sort of spark in their eyes.
So I don’t give up: “Please… just one.” They giggle, hide behind one another. They could just go, run away but they were still standing, peeking at me, whispering.
“Girls, do you know you are very pretty? Your hair, eyes, smile are beautiful – I would like to take a photo.”
The embarrassment on their faces, as if they don’t hear it very often or maybe even for the first time in their lives. They don’t run away. They stand and discuss.
“So beautiful. Your eyes, outfits…” – I continue, being really honest.
OK, they’ve sent one of them for the picture.
Snap, snap. I show the picture: “Look how pretty you are.” She peeked at the camera, smiled and called her friends. And from now on, it’s been totally different. The girls started posing, raising their heads. Still shyly but they did not hide or lower their heads. Running up to the camera and admiring themselves on the pictures, still in moderation but with big smiles.
“Thank you!” – they shouted and ran off excited for the class.
Happy that I have these pictures and that I’ve helped them conquer their shame and defiance, I walk down the same road looking at my pictures.
“Hello, hello, picture, picture!!!!” – I hear some screams.
I look around. There is a group of schoolboys standing, in uniforms as well. They call me, point at the camera and at them that they want a picture. They are changing positions, their heads are proudly held high – they know they are handsome. They look like they could be on a One Direction poster. Snap.
The same school, the same colour of uniforms, boys and girls and quite different behaviour. I wonder how often they will say something nice to their partners.
I’m surrounded by four girls in colorful outfits: “Your hair is so pretty, and your skin is so bright, your face so beautiful. Wow, colorful nails!!!”. They were touching my hands, hair and giggled.
Now it was me who was embarrassed. Although, I thanked them with smile and joy.
“And I like your dark hair and beautiful eyes and those colorful outfits. You are pretty. Oh, look.” – I’ve shown them the picture I had taken several minutes earlier.
“Wow.” They smiled. We’ve exchanged looks which were full of joy and women’s understanding. Despite the fact that we come from totally different countries, continents, cultures still we are all women, we like being appreciated, looking and feeling good.
The power of words
And you know what? It is worth saying something nice to each other. On a daily basis.
If you like someone’s scarf, say it. If you like someone’s smile, say it. If you like someone’s blog post, write it. If you are happy being with somebody, say it. Of course sincerely, I don’t like insincere brown-nosers.
And when you hear it yourself, don’t shrink from it: “yeah, yeah…you don’t say…lame….give me a break” and thank or smile instead. I’m trying to learn behaving like this myself.
Every such word means one smiling person more and we need more smiling people.
On the Women’s Day I wish all of the women a lot of joy, openness and courage to be happy, to see beauty in themselves, in others and say it.
And all in all… I wish that not only women.