I jumped the bandwagon of looking at the past decade only after I became part of this amazing blog hop. Hope you all like my take on the decade, with a short story. Thank you.

Vanessa picked up the Vogue magazine. She smiled. She was on the cover page again, for the eighth time in a row. She was leaning against the bay window of the opulent penthouse in suburban Mumbai. The stunning panoramic view had to compete with her beauty. Her face was perfect, almost ethereal. She was photogenic and drop dead gorgeous. She was tall with beautiful Auburn hair. Most women envied her perfect figure and would gladly give an arm and a foot to look as attractive as her, at 28.

She could not believe it had already been a decade since she first stepped on the ramp. A decade of being a model, a decade of living a dream. She looked at her home. The lavish architecture, the pools, the garden and the stunning interiors were a far cry from where she had begun.

Vanessa Barbusse picked up the script for the interview sent in by Harper magazine. The questions were always the same, nothing different, nothing remarkable, yet she sat herself infront of a small mirror which had cracked in places. The mirror meant more to her than her life. It was like the mirror in Snowwhite. It never lied.

She would read the question and look in the mirror and answer the question. This was her only way to remember her past which she kept well hidden. Also, the mirror was the only souvenir left of her father, mentor, guide, God, Louis Barbusse.

Question 1 (Q): How does it feel to see yourself on the cover of Vogue for the eighth time?

Answer (A): I’m grateful that I’ve been chosen. Vogue is very close to my heart and I’ve been associated with it for long, almost a decade.

Mirror (M): It feels great. I love the attention, the glamour, the glitz. I was greedy for it and still am. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Q: You call Louis Barbusse, the greatest designer our country has seen, your God?

A: Yes, Louis has been the father figure for me. I’m not overtly religious, but if there was God he would be like Louis.

M: Mirror smiled. That was true. Louis Barbusse is my God. He helped me live, when many years ago. I was lying naked on the streets of Mumbai. He picked the thirteen year old me and gave me life.

Q: You lived in Goa before moving to Mumbai. How was life in Goa?

A: Goa is a beautiful place. The beaches, the people, the festivities, naturally would be the happiest time for any kid. It gave me security to be who I am today.

M: Mirror was sad. Growing up was wretched and glum. My parents, sisters, teachers, classmates hated me. I was an outcast, right from the age of three. I was always deviant, an outsider, a rara avis, a black swan.

Q: You don’t talk much about your family?

A: There isn’t much to say really! Louis Barbusse is the only family I have. My birth family was killed in a plane crash, and I’ve been with Louis since then. I don’t really have any memory of them.

M: Tears welled up in Mirror’s eyes. My family ostracized me. At 3, they hated me for playing with my sisters. At 6, they detested me for stealing a skirt from my sister’s wardrobe. At 8, I was loathed and abhorred for wearing lipstick, a string of pearls and high heels for a birthday party. “Are you a whore? A slut, to dress up like this.” I was screaming for them to let me be, to understand what I want, but all I got in return was scorn. I was turned out of my house at 11. My soul was ripped and torn. I was trapped in blackness of despair. I had to survive. I was living in the streets begging for food, but was given drugs, drugs to numb my senses. It felt great to be relieved of all the agony. I felt free. By 13, my body was giving up. I was in a ghetto in Mumbai where I was beaten to a pulp, because I did not conform to the oppressive norms the society laid for me. I was smothered with desperate terror, a soundless agony of being silenced.

Q: Being beautiful is a gift. Do you feel privileged? Isn’t it the reason for your wonderful life?

A: Thank you for appreciating. Yes beauty is a gift and I’m thankful for it. It did help me open doors which would have been difficult otherwise, but I’ve worked for my better life. I’m definitely lucky.

M: Mirror felt choked now. Beauty? Privilege? Louis brought the 13 year old me into his home that ugly night. It was the blackest night. It was pitch dark, the thunder seemed to rip open the heart of heaven. Even the skies were conspiring against me. There was not a shred of cloth on me, only bruises and blood which refused to stop even in the incessant rain. He nurtured me back to health. Asked my name. Victor, I said, feeling ashamed. I was trapped, trapped in the wrong body. I knew it at 3, but boys don’t play house with girls. At 6, boys don’t wear skirts. At 8, boys never wear lipstick and high heels. You are devil incarnate. At 11, stop growing your hair, stop wearing makeup. NO. I’m not a boy. I’m a girl. I’m not Victor. I’m Vanessa. Leave the house now. At 13, Mumbai, dressed as a girl, performing at a bar. Found out by rouges, beaten, molested, raped, left to die. Louis Barbusse hugged Victor. You don’t need to feel trapped anymore. We’ll transform together. Louis took Victor to a room and directed him to pick any dress he liked. You are Vanessa from now. Louis did not have the courage and killed his desires when he accepted his fate, but Vanessa shall live. Not just live, she shall conquer the world.

Mirror says let go, understand, forgive. Vanessa, having risen from Victor’s ashes, only wants to proclaim to the world: I SURVIVED !

“This post is a part of ‘DECADE Blog Hop’ #DecadeHop organized by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul. The Event is sponsored by Glo and co-sponsored byBeyond The Box, Wedding Clap, The Colaba Store and Sanity Daily in association with authors Piyusha Vir and Richa S Mukherjee”