To be short or not to be short?

by- Aishwarya Shree Sharma

So my story goes back to… well goes to back to, when I was born. I was always the shortest in my family, the tiny little one I was appropriately tagged ‘Choti’ choti meaning the little girl. My mother till date blames my height on the evil curse ‘CHOTI’ she feels that calling me over and over again choti has reduced my brain to believe I am short, and well it did not produce any growth hormones, now you figure the science behind that one. So welcome to my world, where your mother is 5’4, dad 5’11, sister 5’8, my brother 5’10, and me barely managing a 5’0 often debated at being 4’11. So here is my blog dedicated to all the tall people of the world – Get over it. Growing up I was the tallest in my class until 5th grade when suddenly everyone grew taller and well as for me, I stayed the same. Come 6th grade my mother felt it was her personal mission to involve me in some form of extracurricular activity, beginning from yoga and until basketball I had tried it all.

Now you must understand my background I come from a well fed well-bred, Punjabi family, where NRI cousins every summer would come and measure their height against the old tree in the garden and return the year after to only make a new mark, as for me I quit making the mark when I was say about 14 years old.  Family reunions were all about “My Sonu grew 2 inches”, “What are you saying, my Soni grew 4 inches.” As for my mum, she would rather speak about her two older children. In our Punjabi culture, the intelligence and worth of a child is always measured by the height, again I ask you to go figure the science behind that one.  I was pretty much oblivious to this whole height drama, like I cared if ABC or XYZ was 5 to 8 inches taller than me. But, then it all changed for me, recollecting that night still brings goosebumps all over my skin. It was October I was over excited to go for the Ricky Martin concert in Delhi (let us just leave the over excited part on this blog). Over joyed at the shabbily put together concert my heart could not wait to see the ‘SHE BANGS’ star kick it off on stage (he took 3 hours to appear and performed for merely half an hour),  after an endless wait there he was or he was not- I had been trampled over by ‘Livin La Vida Loca’ hungry, well-bred Delhi Punjabis who ran over me to catch a glimpse of the star (I wish I was never there) and then it dawned upon me, Was I short or was I SHORT! After waiting the longest time for Ricky Martin to appear in front of the audience, I had not even seen a glimpse of the star (He left within half an hour, reported fever and stomach upset.)

 I retired for home disappointed, the next few years were spent in terrible pain, and I could not help but remind myself of my petite frame. Family photographs just seemed to be my most hated moments (I was made to sit right in front with a snoring Dadi and cousins aged at an average 7 to 8 years.), and whenever NRI cousins would arrive I would go into hiding for the first 15 minutes (The most obvious time for height discussions.)

 I hated everything tall, my room had furniture which was freakishly small, and when I sat on the dinner table and my feet swayed off the ground I couldn’t help but curse my luck and genes more. Until the summer of 8th grade, I decided to hang from whatever I saw, I drank any height increase syrup on the chemist’s shelf, Yoga was extended to an hour every day, and I played basketball as if I was training to be the next Shaquille O’Neil. Then I woke up to the last day of my vacation, with 2 months gone by I raced to the old tree in the garden, calling out to my maid, I was far too enthusiastic to see how much I had grown. Mamta (my maid and confidant) ran to the tree with a blade, and there we were judgement day, I felt a strange feeling in my stomach, as if the ground below me was going to tear open and swallow me right in – If I did not make it to the mark. As she ran the blade ferociously to the tree I realized the mark had been made and there it was, as I opened my eyes every so slowly, I could not contain my excitement, smiling a Cheshire cat smile everything turned the other way round – I WAS THE SAME HEIGHT!

I was far to desperate to be tall this time, and within seconds devised the most fool-proof plan, looking around I realized that no one from the family was around, with a half crooked grin I stood two inches high on my toes, threatened Mamta to make a mark and for my family I was now a modest 5’2 (They still believes that). Turning to Mamta I assured her that if she told anyone I would have to kill her, and as she swore into my secrecy, the deed had been done. The Punjabi family had been successfully fooled by the little one, and today I falsely am the average Indian woman’s height. So in the end my message is, who says that tall is smart?

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