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A picture paints a 1000 cusswords

My publishers are demanding a decent picture for my author profile. They have rejected my attempt at passing off a 14-year-old photo as recent. That’s when my teenage niece, most generously, offers to peel herself off her phone and take me outdoors to photograph me haloed against the sunset from a nearby hilltop.

So, here I am — struggling up this hill, huffing, hair soggy, kajal running ditchwater streaks down my cheeks — while she cheers me on, running ahead in her shiny pink shoes. Sweet child!

She chirps, “Meanwhile, why don’t you film me running up the hill?” Five seconds later: “Just for peeps to see how I’m helping you out.” Five seconds after that: “Quick, now you’ve lost me. I’m so far ahead. Wait, I’ll run back.”

She runs up and down seven times, while I stumble behind her, filming the video. “No, no, my ponytail isn’t swinging enough. Again!” I manage to get grass, pebbles, discarded chips packets, and on occasion, sky — when I go sprawling. She coos, “I love you. You’re totally saving my face.” Put like that, I have to save her face, even though it’s through filming her back. Remember how selflessly she offered to click my pic.

“Oh, sorry, you need to rest. No more vids!’ says this golden-hearted child. ‘I’ll casually lean against this tree. Unposed pics are so it! Wait, does my neck look long enough?”

I assure her it looks swanlike. “Eww, is it curved? Click again!” After 15 tries, she burst into tears. “This just isn’t my right profile. You have to take it from the right side.”

Huh?!

“My left side is my right side. Please please. I could never live down the shame if I post this.’

I give her 23 different versions of her left right side. She protests each time. “My eyes look manic, my legs are sooo fat, my smile is demented, my stomach looks like I’m having hippo babies — wait, I’ll suck in my breath, now from a 45 degree angle — didn’t you do geometry? Lean more… 1-2-3 shoot!” Finally: “Nooo! I look like I’m laying an egg! You secretly hate me, what did I ever do to you to get these awful pictures?”

We do make it to the hilltop and while I collapse into a gasping, retching bundle, she clicks a pic. “Just as promised!” She trills happily.

I look like an axe-murderer or worse, his victim.

“No problem,” she says, “I’ll put filters. Deer eyes and rabbit whiskers. No one will even recognise you.”

“It’s an author pic. I need to be recognised.”

“Now!’ she shrieks. ‘The sun is setting. Capture me pushing it into the horizon. Now! Now! Eww, you missed it. I’m pushing nothing into nothing. Omg, I look mental. How will I ever go out in public again?”

Not with me, for sure!

Where Jane De Suza, author of Flyaway Boy, pokes her nose into our perfect lives.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 4:25:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/a-picture-paints-a-1000-cusswords/article34335023.ece

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