“How tall are you?” — I’m tired of answering that since childhood. I have been a tall child, and today I stand at six-foot three. A good height has own charm but on the flip side, it might also make you an object of ridicule.
In my school class, I was always the tallest, so teachers would assign me the last seat. If ever I grabbed the first bench, the classmates sitting behind would cry, since I would block their view of the blackboard. They would keep telling me to either get my head down or shift a bit to the right or left. It happens to me even today, when I go to the movies.
Friends called me “lambu” (long-limbed) or “Amitbah Bachchan”; and it would get on my nerves when they’d suggest I join some circus. The teasing made me so insecure that I asked my parents if I looked odd indeed, and if there were ways I could stop growing. My wise mother taught me to reply to these nasty comments with a smile.
Even today at public places, as people pass by, my sharp ears catch many funny remarks about my loftiness. “What a height, man,” I’d hear, or: “I wish, I had his height”, which I’d like; but it wouldn’t be long before they’d start saying “skyscraper”, ‘Eiffel Tower”, “Qutub Minar”, “CN Tower”, “Burj Khalifa”, or even “camel” and “giraffe”.
“Are you tall naturally, or is it the supplements?” “What do you eat?” I often think of printing a set of answers to the questions, to save my energy. For people meeting me for the first time, it’s an ice-breaker; the many actors whom I have interviewed no exception. Most annoying are the relatives who bump into me after a few months and say: “You seem to have become taller.” My midget friends ask me as a joke to cut off my legs a few inches and give it to them for pity’s sake. At lunches and dinners, hosts feed me like the king’s elephant. “I’m packed,” I’d say, but they wouldn’t believe, saying: “An extra chapatti will hardly nourish a giant personality.” You don’t laugh when the joke is on you.
People will judge you, whether you look tall, short, fat, or slim. It doesn’t matter, so long as you love yourself and your natural gifts. I thank God for blessing me with a good height, even when my head bangs against door headers and low ceilings.
The writer is an HT staff correspondent based in Ludhiana.