I am vertically challenged.

I have trouble reaching for overhead handles in the train. I am most likely one of the shortest people you will meet, if not the shortest. Oh and a confession. I don’t know how much I exactly measure because if it is less than even 5 feet then I’d rather not know. 😛

How does my height affect me? Well frankly speaking on a day to day basis it does not. It did not affect my studies. I always did reasonably well in academics. I work for what is considered to be one of India’s leading English language news channels. I studied on a partial scholarship at one of the most reputed journalism colleges in India and based on what I scored, I think I did rather well.

But then what is the problem about being ‘short’? If you were me, I’d say put on a thick skin as you grow up because every wedding/party/event/gathering that you shall attend, relatives (mostly not well meaning ones) would rip you apart. You shall be inundated with advice on how to grow taller, though I don’t think how cycling or swimming will help a 23 year old because unlike weight, height is not something that you can change after a particular age.

‘You are short’. ‘Oh how short!’, ‘What a pity! You would have been pretty if you were taller!’

You shall hear a variety of the above mentioned sentences. Also you shall learn synonyms of the word ‘short’ in all the Indian languages you know and speak, some of them a polite way of expressing your physical appearance and others downright insulting. You shall hear them with certainty.

One of the earliest comments I had heard was this. ‘Oh you will not get a good guy to get married if you don’t grow taller’. Ladies and gentlemen I was in class 7 then. Oh yes I certainly cared about marriage back then!! I haven’t met the man who said that to me since then.

But after all my experiences I have come to the conclusion that people who have made my height the focal point of our interaction generally come in two categories.

Category 1

That aunty there in a party, definitely not good looking and most likely has a daughter, is she coming your way? Well then run! She will pity you, politely put you down and make you feel that being short was a national disaster.

But you know what? If you look next to her and look at her daughter (Oh she will be the mother of a daughter for sure) then you will need no further answers. Making your height seem like a big deal is her way of telling herself and most likely those around that, ‘So what if my daughter is dark/fat/not so pretty, but this girl right here is ‘short’ and that is worse!’

Category 2

Your friends are most likely to make fun of your height now and then and leave it at that. I don’t mind the comments because most of them make sense or sometimes arise out of funny incidents. But there will be this one set who will put you down the most. That girl or boy, who is just an inch taller then you, yes that one right there. You think you can be comrades in arms against the big bad world? Ha Ha!

They will be the worst. You know why? They have faced exactly what you have but with one difference. They have met another person ‘shorter’ than themselves. Oh and it does feel very good to them to remind you of how they are one inch, one centimeter or even one millimeter taller than you. They shall not be as mean as the aunties but it will infuriate you to no end because they are ‘short’ too!

I am short. I have always been made to be aware of that fact by a lot of people I met but considering that in my day to day life my height doesn’t affect me in anyway, I wondered what made people react the way they did and continue to do so.

I realized it is mostly not about me but about them as well. Their insecurities, complexes and prejudices have a huge role to play.

And me? Well I shall head to the ice cream stall the next time I see that aunty with a daughter in tow heading towards me. (Sometimes they are uncles too but they shut up when they realize you have a career)