Soundarya Sabun Nirma
It was a ruthless day when I discovered my real identity. As a teenager, I struggled through hot girls, rich girls, and famous-for-nothing girls. I often felt like a lost puppy in the crowd of bitches. Amidst the ting-tong of Doordarshan commercial, finally, one day I found answers to all my questions. My ray of enlightenment was none other than - Nirma Soap Ad.
This karmic journey started the day my cousin infused the thought that a soap defines you. He bathed with Dettol as he was a cleanliness freak. And I should choose a soap that fits my character. When I gleefully jumped at being Liril Girl, he looked with disdain. With one hand he pointed at Preity Zinta’s poster and with other towards the mirror. I nodded. I had no dimples or shorts to be that cool. Even the bottom of my skirt was triple folded to adjust my growing height and our middle-class income. On that day of summer vacation, my arduous journey began. If there is a soap that my fits my short-rounded-desperate frame, I should find it.
I ransacked my brain. My mother used Pears Soap, my father used any, which, by the way, made me doubt his character. I had a characterless father! I tried to convince him to buy a soap for himself. ‘Daddy, please buy Cinthol!’ I pleaded. He flicked his hand in rejection. He was saving money, I was saving his character. And, we both failed - I bought a Dove Soap costing 45 rupees in protest. My friend was using it. She used it on her face to make it last for a month. It was an expensive soap. In an attempt to do some face-saving, I borrowed her idea. We became girls with a lot of ‘face value.’ But the question of character still haunted me.
I made my very famous pro-con list to pacify my inner storm. Lux was in the budget, but out of style. Pears was for mommies, Dove for rich aunties. Santoor was for girls who wore skirts six inches below knees. Margo was kept in thought, just because the model wore a pretty dress in commercial, which I could buy from ‘Midha Dress Shoppe’ in Jain Bazar. There was a small connection. In a pensive mood, I looked at the flickering screen of our Colored BPL TV. Sonali Bendre dazzled in Nirma soap ad. She was traditional and sexy - wore salwar kameez, sari, lehenga, and was smart enough to make it backless. She was gutsy and caring - wore an animal print top while handling tiger cubs. She rode airplanes, went on safari, boarded the train at last minute and boys fell for her, literally. Hands down, she was my role model. I found out, in the world full of ordinary soaps, I was Soundarya Sabun Nirma. On next Dussehra break, I went to my cousin’s place with a Nirma Soap bar in my VIP suitcase.
Sigh, life didn’t leave me there. One day my little brother came home, breathlessly, he begged me to stop using Black Sunsilk Shampoo. Gary’s family used it for their bitch, apparent reason behind her jet black fur. Ladies and gentleman, that day I accepted my life will always be affected by bitches. And, to deal with them, I have to be one!
P. S. - Every bit of this story is true. These days I use Dove Soap, but you may neither call me rich nor aunty. In my deep voice, I must say - I am aging gracefully.