Alice took a perfect swirl and walked back. The dress rehearsal was going on and she knew that she was the best. She had the charm of a temptress, the beauty of a Goddess and an attitude of a mountain……she was a deadly combination of traits that everyone had to bow down to. But what most people didn’t know was the simple child behind all the armour of grace and charm. She was from an ordinary middle class family. Her family had died in a car accident long ago. She was not sure she even remembered their faces well. She grew up in a series of orphanages after her greedy uncle claimed her father’s property. She had no grandparents, so she was sent to an orphanage……and then another one and then another one…….

By the time she was fifteen, she knew all there was to know about thing good girls didn’t know of. She had seen it, done it………she was pretty and everyone wanted her. The orphanage owner, the keepers, the guards, the visitors………..she did everything with an easy smoothness of a person practised at handling everything. She was perfect to everyone. Smooth to the “people” she met, cordial to the “people” who worked for her, charming with the other younger children……she was a champion story teller and a wizard at anything creative. She was always the chosen one to decorate the orphanage dining halls on festivals…..

And then, one day, everything changed. She was out shopping for Chirstmas. For her, religion meant nothing as she celebrated every single one of them. She was staring at windows of the shopping malls, awestruck by such splendour. Her huge hazel eyes took in all the beauty and longed for more. For a 15 year old, this was too much wonder in one place. She saw the pretty satin dresses, the exquisite flower vases, crystal jewellery…..everything reeked of wealth. She stood there with her nose flat on the glass, soaking in all the wealth.

Just then, a guard spotted her and hurried forward to shoo her away. She didn’t realize he was there until he started tugging at her frock and threw her onto the road. She hit the bumper of a silver Toyota and fell unconscious on the road. The Toyota screeched to a halt and a woman in her late thirties stepped out. She seemed genuinely sorry to have hit the poor girl and picked her up off the road. Not knowing what to do, she decided to take the girl to her house.

When she rolled in, the girl was already gaining consciousness. Her head was swollen to its left. She had bruises on her elbows and knees but she was otherwise fine. The lady brought her to a plush yet comfortable looking bedroom and lay her on the bed. After a glass of juice, Alice was back to normal. Her hands were bandaged by a matronly looking woman. She answered the questions asked by the lady in her best English. As she spoke, her eyes danced with enthusiasm and energy. The lady turned out to be a Fashion Designer who’d divorced her husband years ago and lived alone. In compensation for the accident, she volunteered to show the design studio to the girl……

Alice was in heaven…….THIS is where she’d always wanted to be. This was better than paradise. The drawing boards, the paints, the fabris, the mannequins………..she belonged. And before she knew it, she was suggesting patterns to the the lady. The lady looked down at the little girl and was amazed at the element of creativity in her. She knew that this girl was a natural at designing. She took her details down and promised to visit her if she ever needed help.

Alice was dropped back to the orphanage by a car and she waved the lady Goodbye. Any other person would be sad to come back to the miserable environs of the orphanage, but not Alice. She was exuberant, knowing how LITTLE was needed to get started at designing. She immediately borrowed a plank of wood from the carpenter next door, a pen from the librarian of the orphanage and a couple of pins from the Office. She had some paper in her old wooden box.

And she set to work. She had an hour before she started entertaining “people”, so she scribbled furiously. She knew that she could do nothing with just designs, so she started working a plan out to translate the designs into real clothes. She knew one tailor down the lane who’d been eyeing her for a long time. She could easily talk him into making a dress out of her design if she could sneak out for an hour or two and satisfy him……….

At the end of fifth day of her tryst with the designer lady, she held out the blue cotton dress for her to get a full view of it. It was marvellous. Getting it ready had meant entertaining a lot of people, but she was determined and the result was in her hand. The cloth was very ordinary blue cotton with white and green polka dots. But it was the “design” the mattered…….

She wore the dress and looked at her reflection in the cracked mirror. If only I had some lipstick, she thought……..and she went to the cleaning lady. The cleaning lady lent her a lipstick she’d stolen from a wealthy employer a week ago. The lipstick made her look older and she felt good about THAT. The dress made her look very elegant…..

She took the bus to reach the crossing next to the designer lady’s house. She got off and walked to the designer lady’s house with as much grace as she could muster. The guard took a few steps forward to try to stop her but he remembered her. Who could forget those hazel eyes staring out at every single detail with aboslutely disarming curiosity???

He smiled at her and she smiled back. Her smile lit up the whole place and she walked to the house holding her head high. The designer was in her studio. “This is better than I could’ve asked for”, she said to herself. When Alice entered the lady was bent on her drawing board, absorbed in deeo thought. Alice called out for her softly, for the fear of disturbing her……..

The lady turned back and saw Alice. She had trouble believing what she was looking at!!!!!! An absolutely stunning figure, donning a cheap looking but extremely thoughtfully designed gown!!!!! The face was so charming that she forgot all about her designs. Alice stood, waiting for a response patiently. The lady didn’t say a word but circled Alice many times before she stopped facing her.

“Who made this dress?”, she asked plainly.

“I designed it, the tailor down the lane stitched it”, her mind began to wonder if this was a good idea in the first place.

“Hmmm. Would you want to design more?”, she asked again.

“Oh YES……”, Alice could barely suppress her excitement.

“But for that, I want you to come and stay here. You’ll have to be clean. I can’t stand the dust on your feet and hands”, she eyed Alice’s feet and twisted her face.

“Oh. I don’t know if I can come and stay. My home is orphanage”, she muttered weakly….

“That can be arranged, I’m sure”, the lady stated matter of factly.

A week later, Alice left the orphanage with her small stock of belongings, a wooden box, a small plank of wood, an old cloth doll and a few old photos. She had been adopted by the designer lady and she was to go and stay with her from this day on.

She took another swirl and the vrew clapped. She bowed down and flashed one of her best smiles. She’d grown up…….it’s been five years now. She’d become a favourite of everyone. She loved everyone and everyone loved her back. She had a huge circle of friends. She knew everyone by name at the Studio……..she was the pet child of all the people. The best model, the best designer, the best girl……….

No one knew of her past, the entertainment, the orphanage……..she wondered if she had died and had risen from the ashes.

“Alice”, called the show co-ordinator.

“Yes Boss”, she hollered back.

“Here’s someone to see you”, he called out.

“Ask them to wait”, she said as she smoothed her dress for the walk.

“Alice, start walking………………SPOTLIGHT, Music………….walk…………….”



  1. Rajarshi said,

    October 16, 2006 at 2:42 am

    Dreamy..Dreamyyyyyy…:-)…looks like some little girl’s dreams coming out..:D…Funny part is, here’s one smart confident girl making her way exploiting man’s age-old hunger…while in prev blogs innocent women falling victim to same!!..Strange world..or is it Darwin’s theory – Survival of the fittest!!

  2. October 16, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    Hi! Rajarshi, I don’t know if she was the FITTEST but she sure knew what she wanted. And she knew how to get it. Her methods may not sound very moral to US but they’re hers and she’s ok taking them. In a way she does it without hurting anyone. As I mention, she’s a charmer everywhere…….I don’t quite know what I was thinking of while writing that one, but I wanted that girl to be the one so ferociously ambitious and yet, congenial……

  3. Rajarshi said,

    October 16, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    I know what you mean!…It’s not really a question of morality here…the essence here is purely of ambition, combined with true talent and confidence…:-)….Ppl like her cannot be stopped to soar high in the sky….even circumstances can’t….Your write-up has got its roots dug in reality yet seem like a dream being lived.

    Keep writing…it’s getting more and more interesting…:)

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