“I Want to Feel Beautiful.”


I want to feel beautiful.

It’s alright if don’t feel glossy, cover girl, it girl magazine beautiful. But I want to feel like ‘I belong’, ‘I matter’ beautiful. I want to feel beautiful like the energy on 24th December Pre-Christmas Dinner. I want to feel an expectant, alive kind of beautiful. A beauty, that does not rotate around Whatsapp Profile Pictures and ends at blank Snapchat filters. I may not be curves- highlighting- black-dress material beautiful sometimes. Because, sometimes, I realize that I’m not that strappy high heels wearing, ‘some boy’ will come buy me a martini kind of a girl. And that’s okay for me.

I want to feel beautiful because I want to tell myself that I’m enough to walk over to the bar and ask for a glass of water because I consensually do not drink. I want to feel that ‘liberated’ beautiful. I want to feel that quiet, calm, peaceful beautiful because I want to not ever feel guilty when I say “no”. I want to be beautiful so that I can break barriers between the ‘right kind of weight’ and the ‘wrong kind of weight’ and walk into M.O.D. and order the largest donut of death by chocolate. I want to feel beautiful because I want to hug my fears at 3:50 am on a Sunday night and tell myself that it’s okay. I want to be beautiful so that I can embrace my different. I want to feel this beautiful and I want it so bad because I want to understand the extents and limits of my vulnerability.

To me, beautiful is not just a word. It is not materialism overflowing from chap sticks and extra-red, T.G.I.F lipstick stains. To me, beautiful is that sweat I have on my back from walking with my mom to the library just so that I can smell the rawness of old, dusty books. To me beautiful is to be able to thank the cleaning lady at the Saturday night club night – the same woman who cleans up vomit of those who can’t handle their alcohol. I want to be beautiful, so that I can look down in humility as she takes my hand and tries to speak over her overwhelming silent tears. I want to be beautiful, because I want to have the courage to accept that what’s right for me is never going to be on the easy path.

I want to be beautiful, so that I don’t have to write “I want to be beautiful” in posts like these just because I want people to know that there are girls out there who are being body-shamed and bullied for . . . for what? For their metabolism? For the bread they break with God’s name? For the extra chunk of human they have on their bellies and hips and can’t get rid of it because they’re so busy trying to filter the negative voices in their head with the positive?

I’m sorry.

Until that vulnerability and the feeling of ‘I’m not good enough’ doesn’t erase from the minds of the women I love and respect, I’ll have to keep typing “I’m want to feel beautiful” to let them know that they’re not alone.

I’m also going to have to keep typing, “I want to feel beautiful” until the boys and the lads and the men realize that they can be beautiful too. I won’t stop, until they realize that their sanctity and their “heroicness” won’t be violated if they let their guard down and let their‘macho’ feel beautiful for once. I won’t stop until they realize that there is no separate race for the beautiful people and that all bones rot in soil after death. I’ll also have to keep typing “I want to be beautiful” to let the rape victims and acid attack victims know that ‘to feel beautiful’ is a state of mind and a way of life. And no matter how much we try, until our hearts don’t accept it, our eyes won’t believe it and our faces won’t reflect it. I want to feel beautiful so that I can develop a mental stability and maturity and learn how not to judge any burlesque, cabaret, punk, rock, rap, it girl, teen pop sensation, Bollywood desi or Moulin rouge dancer. For I know that our dignity comes from the purity our heart’s harbor. I have engraved this on my morals – that I need to not only clean my nails, but also my mind.

I want to feel beautiful because I want to be accepting at all times – especially in times when I won’t feel so beautiful. For I know how dusty, allergic, nauseous, crampy, jealous, afraid, tired, over thinking, hateful and anxious I can get. In these moments, I’ll need to keep my drive to feel beautiful, alive.

Do help me, oh human.

Because human, I will want to feel beautiful as long as I live. And as long as I’m alive, I’ll question. Because the questions I ask make me understand the fickleness of the beauty ‘they’ want. I want to feel beautiful so that I never forget the kind of beautiful I want to be and the kind of beautiful I’ve been brought up with. I want to be beautiful so that I have patience to deal with the answers I get. And, I want this beautiful so bad, because I want to fill all the hurtful spaces of my life with forgiveness. A calm kind of forgiveness that makes me want to respect myself again. And, so that I finally understand the difference between a scared silence and a sacred silence. I want to be beautiful because I want to know when to take ‘things’ with a pinch of salt and when to fight back and clear the dirt of my conscience.

I do not want to be beautiful to be saint; I want to be beautiful to learn how to be human.

-khushboo shah



Young and Beautiful – An illustration.

Watch the illustration here.

There’s always a different aura about a young person. Sometimes, it is intoxicating. Sometimes, it is alluring. Sometimes, it is breathtaking. Sometimes, it is disillusioning.

I like young people. They always smell of wanderlust.

Do you know why?

It is because the young ones have overlapped themselves with an aura of speed. In my mother tongue, we call it ‘Raftar’. It is the ‘fastness’ of life that intimidates us, sometimes annihilates us but mostly provokes us to do something better.

There are some sporadic moments that save us from the unnecessary and blatant ‘rush’. These moments define the line between a ‘rushed life’ and a ‘speedy life’. It is like driving through a highway with the windows up. The speedometer shows 100 km/h yet still you can’t feel the rush. The AC has mellows the speed down for you. You’re enjoying the best of both worlds. You get to sit inside and retain your calm and simultaneously watch mighty life pass outside.

A speedy life is a life of no stagnancy.

A rushed life is a life only of stagnancy.



Watch this, to understand what my words are trying to illustrate.

The small breaths of rage

Will make their way through the

narrow channels of life.

Like shallow stars on soil,

they’ll maneuver into the slippery

ridges of a broken soil.

Don’t let them come to you.

It’ll engulf your passion into ice

and your fire into ash.

A still from the above video.


The little unsaid things of 9 November 2016.

On 9 November,  2:30 pm IST time when the whole world was glued to a TV I was doodling.

Almost always, an insanely anxious voice has made its way to my stomach making me squirm and churn before  huge announcements. That day too, I could hear the echoes of the world news and their high-pitched exhilarating tones. But I wasn’t listening. My eyes were focused on my mobile screen, trying to make sense of the black and white doodle I was trying to create.  And then, just like that, 37 seconds later, America had a new leader. Exquisitely and passionately, I moved my hand around the screen. I needed to make sure that every line connects with some other line; I didn’t want a distorted image. No one likes a distorted picture. So what if  America had a new leader, even when I looked around me, the world pretty much seemed the same to me.

But something in me spoke differently.

I checked Instagram. I shut it as soon as I opened it. My newsfeed had too much paranoia. During elections, I follow only one policy. The policy of speaking, commenting and judging only when I can be a part of the electoral process. I am 18. I can vote. Only, I cannot vote in America because it is not my country. Yes, I have an opinion. But I believe in the wise words of Adichie of how “the truth of a half story is worse than a lie of a full story.” I am a spectator in this one.

I walked over to my fridge. I popped a kisses in my mouth making sure that the Hershey’s chocolate melts perfectly in my mouth. I tilted my head and  walked towards the window. The same array of cars and the same loud traffic kept passing by. I walked back to my phone and wondered if I make myself part of this meme business too.

A lot had changed in one night.

I’m not a believer of  ‘history can be made in one night’. To me, history is a process of slow sustained growth, of wise informed decisions and an enduring intricate process which creates full-blown dynamic impacts to last decades. But today, when history was made in one night, I really questioned all what I have known. While some were celebrating their hysterics or crying over reality or sitting soundless on a bar stool wondering how to buy a beer with  100  Rupees(yes, my country’s changing its currency by its halting present currency) I wondered  if I have turned numb. Neither was I Utopian about the events and firmly making resolutions that ‘everything will be okay.’ I don’t like to kid myself like that. But on the other hand, I wasn’t completely devastated either or apocalyptic waving flags of communism and chanting slogans of “long live Lenin” and cursing the failed democracy.

I knew and realized that the world was above average fragmented today.  A lot of pieces of the puzzle didn’t make sense and I had no extremist statement to make or a platform to climb on and scream and ask everyone to calm down. Even if I did, it would be highly inappropriate for me to do so because when people are in a state of panic, it is best to leave them alone. Why? Well because we are highly tangled pieces of human, who want to understand their own panic and anxiety at their own approvals and their own costs.

I asked a friend of mine in Canada, how were they dealing with stuff there. He replied, that the paranoia had sunk in so deep that people were turning to alcohol and intoxication for relief. Then, I asked some of my American friends how they were dealing with the results. Some badgered me, some thanked that they had a dual citizenship, some were glad that the nerve-wrecking pressure was over, some felt insulted and ashamed and some, well they were also looking forward to drinking their problems away or just partying away and forgetting that any of this ever happened.

A speculator from five time zones and three continents away, I was intrigued at the reasons of their anger and the consequences of their denial. Perhaps, the limited amount of people I spoke to hinders my understanding, yet still, even this small crowd was ricocheting only one message.

The message of Solidarity. ‘Acceptance and Solidarity’ are such key factors in determining our happiness quotient in socio-political, cultural and economic spheres. Many may say differently. But this is what I, as a spectator feels from an unbiased point of view.

But apart from a leadership change in America and young, little kids being taught the meanings of words like ‘bigotry’ ‘relapse of feudalism’ ‘sexism’ ‘racism’ ‘tolerance’ ‘hatred’ – the seven billion beings present on this planet witnessed a historical change. Mankind has experienced very rare and few moments when all of its totality stand in solidarity for one issue or for one subject. The earliest I remember is Copernicus telling us that the Earth revolves around the sun. In the last millennium, the last time we humans watched our TV with this anxiousness was in 1989  when the Berlin Wall fell. And in the new millennium we stood in this solidarity when 9/11 happened. America, has always given us reasons to stand in this fraternity and solidarity. God Bless, Uncle Sam.

So on November 9 2016, while I was searching for some ointment to cure the numbness in me and get some reaction to the day’s event out of my system, a telephone conversation shocked me. It was 10 in the night and a friend called up. And these words used by him stuck, “For the first time, we were adult enough to witness history.” And I asked him to repeat. Hesitantly, he replied again, “We were there to witness a time when the whole world stood still because one certain man was elected.”

And then, it hit me.

9 November 2016 will be remembered by many for all sorts of reasons. For me, this day was of acceptance and realization of how intricately connected we all are. And how powerless we can get in the face of some other supreme power. That, politics follows history right out of the textbook. And that, sometimes knowing your rights is more important than knowing your blood group. And that big changes can never be understood in small time, but a small time period can see some of the biggest changes. So, while there is anger, suspicion, fear, questions and hostility in the hearts of many – there is also an undeniable courage growing in the hearts of some.

Though this day has again established the fact that people will give opinions irrespective of whether their opinions are valid, valued or important – 11/9 2016 has created the possibility that people will now want to understand things. They will now want to have an active participation and expand their craving ‘to know’ in all what they do.The days of passivity are over. The little unsaid, unheard and unaccounted actions of the minority have developed a voice today. And, perhaps now, people will want to exercise democracy – the way it was made.

Democracy: not an elitist trump card, but a set of aces with which the common people should have the last say.

Common People: Tax payers of the country  irrespective of their gender, race, religion, ethnicity and monetary income.