(New post every Friday evening;
please scroll down for previous posts)
please scroll down for previous posts)
A Pretty Face Is All You Need
It happened when I was 9 years old. High up in the Himalayan mountains on a day out trekking. The memory still fills me with guilt and shame.
Although I can now rationalize what happened---and, of course, I was only a kid at the time---it makes little difference. I suppose it was just another mystery of nature that we will never fathom.
We had hired a couple of pack ponies and, when I got tired of walking, my parents allowed me to ride one of them. I was rather skinny, so my weight made little difference to the load they were already carrying---a carpet, lunch, a foam mattress (my dad liked a nap), some warm clothes, a fishing rod.
While my parents walked on ahead, my pony minder, the guy whose pony we had hired, made conversation with me. He talked about his miserable life, the children he had lost to disease. The struggle to find food, the wet winters, the icy cold, the draughty little hut in which his family huddled to survive the best they could. I felt really sorry for him and suitably ashamed of my own life which was luxurious by comparison. He said his wife was losing her sight and needed to make a trip to the doctor, but it was too expensive. So could I perhaps persuade my parents to give him a few extra rupees at the end of the trip? I know, I know, maybe he was taking me for a sucker. Did it matter? Not a bit. Just one look at his matchstick-limbed body, torn clothes and sunken cheeks made me feel for him---he needed the extra cash, if only to make his life a little more tolerable for a fleeting moment in time. Was that too much to ask? Of course I said yes, I would speak to my dad. I certainly would.
A while later, when we stopped, he helped me down from the pony. The cap he was wearing slipped off and into sight came his bare head. It was covered in sores. Horrible, livid eruptions. I stared at the revolting sight, shivering with horror.
At 9 years old I was not able to hide the disgust that jumped to my face. He caught my look and hurriedly pulled his cap back on, as if covering up some dreadful sin. We didn't talk much after that.
The trek ended. We were back at our well-equipped tourist bungalow. Our beaming cook appeared, anxious to serve us a delicious hot dinner. My father paid the pony-men. Whatever had been agreed. I looked away, aware of the supplicating gaze from the man who had almost become a friend. I turned my back on him forever. He had let me down. He was ugly. I couldn't stand him, the awfulness that lay beneath his tattered cotton cap. Hard though it is to admit, that is the way that nature has programmed us. Appearances count. They count one heck of a lot, actually. There are loads of really good singers out there who never make it because they are not good looking. Then there are many more who cannot sing but easily make it to no. 1 in the charts. I've never seen a handsome beggar. Ugly politicians never make it right to the top. Even the baddy in a film has to have an evil beauty. Like it or not, we judge people by their looks. So, I say, bring on the botox, the cosmetic surgery, the prosthetic enhancements, the make-up that even men were nowadays. For where would we be without them! Ugly people don't seem suited to survive, you see. So one day evolution will rid us of them. Or maybe they'll still be there underneath everything that they've had done to themselves, only we'll never know it. Unless you're a towering genius or a millionaire, your looks will determine exactly how far you will get in life.
What sad, sad human beings we are! How I still hate myself for letting down that pony-man. May God forgive me!
(See you next Friday)
Hi, my name is John. This is my third weekly blogpost. I post one every Friday evening. The previous posts can be reached by scrolling down. The next one, called The Naked Assailant, will be posted on 3 August. I look forward to your comments. By the way, as I write, the ducklings are all still doing just fine! (Thursday 19 July post).Tweet
Running With Zombies (Kindle and paperback editions) (click)My website: jmwsmith.webeden.co.uk