I was 14 years old. You could say that I looked a bit more pleasable in the past than of now. Anyway, my mom’s work enables her to be in touch with all sorts of media related things and she happened to hear that some producers were producing children-involved TV Show at Coimbatore. Usually, most of the shows are produced in Chennai. Since, this was an exceptional case, my mom sent in my name with the only pretty photo of mine to the show director. Later, we got a call that I got in.
I started experiencing detailed fantasies of how my life would be after the TV Show. I fancied delusions of red-carpets, interviews, makeup rooms with huge bulbs along the frame of the mirror, award ceremonies (especially Oscars!) and how people whom I hate so fervently would beseech and scrounge for an autograph. How rich I would be! I’d have uncountable dresses. Yaaaaaaay! But the TV Channel was Doordarshan and not even my Grandma watches it. And hey, I got paid more than any private channel would offer.
The filming of that show was so long that Bollywood movies seemed short. They arranged all the kids, about 20 of us, according to our names and guess what? J was the last alphabet and I was itching to get beautiful after the magical strokes of the beauticians brushes and sponges. I waited for around half a day (9:00 am to 1:00 pm) sitting in the Waiting Room and drinking water and eating the lunch my mom packed and napping from time to time. One particular boy took about 1 hour get his face acceptable because he kept licking the strawberry flavoured lip gloss and kept rubbing off the foundation. What do boys learn in school?
That boy got on my nerves. Then, finally, they called my name and that make-up lady put some foundation, this and that and some orange lipstick. Orange? She said that since I was wearing blue shirt and orange shorts, orange lipstick would attract the camera. Okay whatever, make-up lady. I looked at myself in the mirror. What? I looked like those people who ride ridiculous cycle with one-wheel at circuses. Make-up lady put blue eye shadows. Is that because I wore blue shorts? I was on the verge of tears and asked my mom, “Ma, what if someone sees the TV?” So my mom replied, “No one will watch Doordarshan. Now go.”
For the first time I felt better after the mirror encounter because the other kids were beyond peculiar. It was hell of a circus. The show was about kids. Well, yeah. You have a sinewy/pokes you for fun/top-notch host and 20 others kids who are obviously dragged out of the Jumbo Circus, VOC Ground, Coimbatore if it weren’t for our parents here. Our ring-master (since the post has gotten circus themed) or the game conductor was a guy from Chennai and his job is to make fun and crack lame jokes at us while we in Level 1 – blow balloons and hold them between our fingers where the person who has blown the highest number of balloons wins and Level 2 – throw the small plastic balls into similarly small paper cups facing us. Mokka.
Facing us was whopping crowd, family members of all the kids. One particular family through out the TV show was shouting comments and orders to their ostentatious girl while she was gusting balloons. The show director had to beg the family for temporary quiescence. They re-did her shot and she blew more balloons than before. Cheating. The guy who held the games (who had to make fun of us) made too much fun of one boy and that boy broke to tears which turned to weeping and eventually he was wailing. Again, everybody went to the camera alphabetically and I was the last. Whatchamacallit.
My turn came at last. The blasphemy. Probably, that guy got well oiled, he was jesting exceptionally well. But why me? There were 19 kids before me and I was the only one who specifically got poked. Therefore, I lost with a naught. After the filming (ahem) they told us the date on which they would telecast it. I knew that I wouldn’t be watching the only time I was ever on TV because 1) I was shy and a bantam embarrassed, 2) there was a stubbornly unyielding gloominess that I didn’t even get one balloon fully blown or a plastic ball inside the cup and 3) I looked preposterously psychedelic.
Alas when the day came, my mom regrettably invited all our laid-off relatives (as they had time for the most unamusing TV show). I just hid in the bathroom throughout the hour. I can say that I never know how I look on the TV. But I am glad as I don’t want myself haunting my own dreams. The next day at school during the lunch interval, a couple of Class 2 students(I think, they were very kutty kutty so) came up to me and said, “Didi, I saw you on TV on Sunday. You looked like a butterfly.” It felt like I was on top of the world because all my family/relatives were just keen on consoling me for not winning or whatever and congratulated for being on TV then. But two Second grade kids made me feel extraordinary. Extraordinary like those feelings when you get goosebumps whilst the violin reaches soprano high and you’re filled with iridescent stars that are about to burst.
It felt beyond excellent.