It’s not very often that your past comes revisiting. And if that past is part of a history that you have buried deep within your subconscious mind, never to visit again, then those memories can cause more pain than nostalgia. This is what happened to me yesterday when, slouched on the couch and mindlessly surfing through the TV channels I came across a news channel airing a segment on ‘Famous models who have disappeared from the face of earth’.
My mind willed my fingers to grab the remote and turn off the TV but my body had frozen. I simply sat, with hands trembling, listening to the anchor on the Entertainment news segment speak.
“Many of us still remember this tall, dusky, svelte who ruled the ramp for more than 5 years. The beautiful and stunning model, Mia Tandon created furor when she modeled for a sports gear company in nude. Mia captured millions of men’s imagination as she swished and swayed on the ramp.
She was on the top of her game when her career spiraled down dramatically. A fashion faux pas when walking on the ramp for Lakme India Fashion Week drew a lot of flak.”
I saw myself walking in a halter gown on the ramp and as the screen moved in slow motion, I saw my dress falling down and with a look that conveyed surprise, shock, confusion and dismay, I quickly took hold of the garment and walked back with as much dignity as I could muster. But those few seconds, when my body was on display for everyone’s viewing, created a fear so deep in my heart that I could never gather enough courage to walk on the ramp ever again.
Though I had done a few ad campaigns in nude I had never felt vulnerable or exposed. The cameras were clicking like crazy as I looked dazed like a deer caught in the headlights. I knew my career was finished. The weeks following the disaster were nerve-wrecking for me. My phone never stopped ringing. Media hounded me everywhere I went. There were women’s organizations holding protests against me, demanding that I be arrested for being a disgrace in the society.
I took solace by locking myself in my room with the curtains drawn and spending all the time drinking and smoking. I did not want to step out of my room. Things reached a new low when one night, very drunk and unable to walk, I fell into a dumpster in a back alley of my house. That night, as I cried inconsolably, I felt sorry for myself. The next morning, just before dawn, I packed a few of my things and enrolled into a detox program in a rehabilitation center.
As the anchor moved on to the other models in her list, I walked unsteadily over to the drinks cabinet. A year back I had given up drinking completely but I badly needed some alcohol within me to calm my frayed nerves.
With the drink in my hand, I moved towards the couch but stopped suddenly as I saw my image in the mirror beside the bar. I inched closer to my reflection and noticed the fine lines that had begun to form near my eyes. When I was a model, I never went outside my room without wearing makeup but now, I rarely wore any makeup.
Did I miss the glamour, the fame, the adulation?
Maybe but being away from the arc lights, in my own secluded space, had given me immense peace and rebuilt my shattered confidence. I was free to roam the streets, free to do whatever my heart wished, without thinking about the paparazzi following me and judging my actions.
The last day at my rehab center, I stood at the gates and pondered over my next steps. Did I really want to return? Did I want to go back to that world where people hugged and air kissed me, but the moment I turned my back, they were ready with a dagger to tear me down?
I had made my decision. I travelled to Dehradun, the place where I had come from, where I had started my journey, the place where I really belonged. I was coming back a full circle.
Yes, I had lost the world of glamour and fame, but in return I had received something more valuable. I had regained my freedom, my peace and my sense of belonging.