I Once Was Beautiful: An Indian Love Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Hidden in the busy, dirty unkept streets of Delhi, India there she was. The moon itself gave her no competition, as her long lush black hair and snow white complexion could stun even it at its fullest. A beautiful woman from the outskirts of India is living like a true princess until her life changes in the blink of an eye. A tragic accident leaves her snow white face disfigured and scared for life. The damage is more than skin deep as her life begins to slowly plummet into a sea of despair.

Submitted: November 29, 2013

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Submitted: November 29, 2013



Once upon a time on a scorching day in the middle of June, Anarkali stood on her balcony and shut her eyes. Taking a deep breath she opened her beautiful kohl rimmed eyes to take in the sights of Delhi, her home in India since she was a child. In just a few short months all her dreams would come true; she will be marrying Prince Amir, and become a princess. Anarkali was the interest of every single bachelor in Delhi, beautiful with long goddess like hair, fair skin and rose coloured cheeks.

“Anarkali, where are you my child? Come now, I need help with the laundry” shouted her mother from downstairs.

“I’m coming Ma,” she replied obediently.

Anarkali had grown up in her parents’ home in Delhi and never disobeyed them and had always strived to make them proud. So at once she raced downstairs to help her mother with washing the clothes. Their home was situated minutes away from the holy Ganges River, and she knew the route to the river even with her eyes closed. Carrying a full basin of clothes she began her walk to the river to wash the clothing and hopefully meet some of her friends. While walking she got nothing but stares of admiration and greeting from the villagers who knew her.

The warm Indian sun began to set as she washed the last of her dresses and got up to walk back to her house. Walking home, the sway of her body, draped delicately in her baby pink sari, caught the attention of all the other women in the village as they stared in envy.

Upon her arrival back home she quickly showered and went to get some rest for the following day. 

Night soon became morning and she got ready and caught a taxi to her local tech college for a culinary class. This particular day the class had been making sweets and Anarkali and her classmates were busying frying and chatting. The girls were catching up and telling jokes to one another, when all of a sudden Anarkali turned around to see another classmate walking with a frying pan. Aliya, the younger woman carrying the pan with hot oil lost her balance and the oil from the pan flew out heading for another younger classmate. Quickly Anarkali grabbed her by the braid and pulled her out of the way, throwing herself in the path of the hot oil.

The sound of sirens and screams deafened her, as she lay there paralyzed from pain.

People by the dozen poured in and out of the local hospital to see what had become of Anarkali. Disgusted, they left shaking their heads muttering things like “what a shame, such a beauty” under their breaths. 

The days following her accident were the worst. It was a matter of hours before the whole village learned that the entire left side of her face had been badly burnt. Shortly following the spreading of the news, Prince Amir’s family had called Anarkali’s parents to inform them that the wedding was off. 

“What? This isn’t happening. Ma I thought he loved me. What do you mean he doesn’t want to marry me?” shot Anarkali in anger.

“I’m sorry my child, you will never get married now. You are ruined” her mother said through tears as she walked away to her room. 

Those words were like a million daggers to her heart. For days and nights Anarkali cried in her room and hid from the  harsh stares and comments of her village. 

One day  she finally mustered up the courage to look at her face in the mirror something strange happens. As she looks at her petrifying reflection she suddenly sees the reflection of a young handsome man looking back at her. Confused yet mesmerized she places her hands on the mirror only to see the reflection vanish in a mere second.

“Who was that?” she asks herself as she blinks her eyes repeatedly. 

Suddenly the mirror answered back, “That is your true love that awaits you at the banks of the Ganges, go now” the voice shouts to her.

In the beat of a heart, overcome and possessed by this magic she quickly drapes her best sari over her head and face. Quickly she leaves her house for the first time in what seems like years, avoiding eye contact with the world. 

As she gets to the banks of the Ganges she sees no one waiting. Children playing, villagers bathing but nothing magical nothing like what she was expecting.

Just as she was about to walk away she sees something emerge from the water. Something beautiful, something mesmerizing. something that she knew could only be for her. That skin lightly kissed by the rays of the sun, those shiny green eyes and a smile that could move mountains stopper her dead in her tracks.

“Ana” he said, “I’ve been searching for you, my name is Ayyaan.”

Mesmerized by this stranger, she was at a loss for words, his eyes so large and glassy told his whole story. 

It took a minute for her to break her gaze with him and finally speak.

I know that you know me, who doesn’t know me look at me.” she said as she turned to walk away.

The gently river breeze blew her shawl off her head revealing her tarnished complexion to him.

Screaming she fumbles to catch it and shield his eyes from her horrid condition.

“Don’t look at me”, she yells and she fights back tears.

“What? Why?” Ayyaan asks in confusion as a slight smile forms on his lips.

Enraged Anarkali begins to scream through tears “Stop it, I know you are disgusted by my face and now you are laughing?”

“No, I can’t see it. I cannot see physical deformities Ana. I have a gift. I’m different. I only see what lies within the heart”, he explains as his green eyes sparkly.

Stunned and at a lost for words yet again Anarkali stands there in amazement as he takes her by the hand. Gently he guides her down to the river and tells her to look at her reflection in the water. 

“Do you want to see what I see when I look at you?” he asks. 

Anarkali nods her head as she looks down into the river and sees her face just as it was before the burn. Ayyaan sweeps her off her feet and carries her away into the night. 

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