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This story is based on a true tale about a fashion designer who walked a different path in choosing models. Recently, she chose a domestic worker as a model for her collection of apparel. It was a way of empowering women for her compared to those fashion designers who opt for models who are fashionable and have the so-called oomph factor.
This is a true story about a leading designer who chose an unlikely model and left everyone astonished by her decision. Mandeep Negi, who is the director of Shades of India–one of India’s leading brands in soft furnishings and fashion picked a domestic worker for her set of new collection of apparel.
The black hue of the dirty utensils and plates was too deep. Under the handpump they were lying since her busy morning. She had to wash them as soon as water came from the pump in the evening and cook food for her two children. A regular day was never long for her. She was so busy. The Kapoor's house was the first one on her list. Then was the Bengali Babu's house and then the Majumdar's villa. She was as busy as a celebrity. She was the Kantabai of her locality. Life was indeed a bed of roses for her. Roses less and thorns more. It had been three years since the Almighty God had snatched him away from her. He was her only means of support and love in her life. Her husband. But nothing stopped her from going a step further to live a life without him with all the valour and strength.
She was Kamala. Kamala was a domestic worker. Gopi, her son, was a school going boy and Kamala often used to have a tough time managing the money for his school fees. Gauri was still a toddler. Kamala had tough days. She used to clean utensils, wash clothes, do gardening and cook food at different houses.
Little did her masters at those houses know that she couldn't even feed her children properly with one time's meal. She was almost a slave. A minion.
All her days were like some rough bumpy road until she started working at the Negi's.Navdeep Negi was a different kind of woman. She was the working woman at her home. She was a fashion designer. Kamala observed her.There was something magnetic about her. She walked with the gait of a queen, full of fearlessness and was like the lioness of the forest. Kamala's initial days with the Negi's used to be hectic until she was called by Navdeep one day.
"Kamala! Will you come for a photoshoot with me?"
Kamala was stunned. She didn't speak a word. She felt that her job of domestic worker was in danger. She started sobbing and wailing. Her throat was feeling very dry but somehow she opened her mouth to speak.
"Memsaaheb! I am too weak and I am only a maid! I don't even know how to look good. I am not beautiful. Please don't embarrass me."
Kamala started looking down at her feet with all the dirt filled in her nails. She started sweeping the floor with the mop.Navdeep responded.
" I am not joking Kamala! Firstly everyone is beautiful. Don't ever think like that. And I want you to come with me in half an hour to the studio. I will take care of everything else. Kakaram will find another maid for us."
And from that moment onwards, Kamala's life was really a bed of roses. Her first days were difficult. She would sit in the corner of the studio and feel so low about her decision of going for modelling. But somehow she mustered up to finally work for Navdeep and was ready to clean her nails and wash her feet. Ready and all set for the procedures of manicure and pedicure. She got her hair done. She was a fan of the famous actress, Madhuri Dixit. She wanted to look like her. With beaming eyes she asked Navdeep one day.
"Memsaaheb! Can I look like Madhuriji? I want to wear a skirt like the one she wore in the movie Dhadak."
Mandeep smiled. She saw Kamala being confident now.Kamala had rigorous sessions of getting her make up done. Then there was the biggest trouble of walking in high heels. Day by day, she was getting better and got groomed so much that her final day had come for which she was eagerly waiting for.
Kamala was no longer a weak and struggling with no self esteem. She was a model now. She felt so confident that she was not even afraid of talking to Navdeep. Coming from the villages of Rajasthan, where a typical woman would always be considered unclean for working as a model, she felt empowered that day. She felt like Navdeep. Like a lioness. That was what she had wanted for her whole life. And she got it. What else did she need?
It was the final day when Kamala had to walk on the red carpet. It was one of the best days of her life. She was now a celebrity. Not a Kantabaai. The innumerate lights on the stage and the media persons who were interviewing Navdeep Negi and the attention she got from the crowd made her feel ecstatic. A skinny guy suddenly popped out from the mob and asked the designer.
"Ms.Navdeep Negi! Why did you go for a sudden change in the choice for your models being the director of the 'Hues of India', one of India’s leading brands in soft furnishings and fashion ?"
"The focus of our new collection, Vivacious, is on textures and I wanted someone extraordinary and I found it in her. I knew that I found what was looking for. She was Kamala. That is it."
"Why did you go for a model like Kamala?"
"I prefer shooting with those women who don’t expect to be models, and suddenly feel empowered and powerful before the camera, in their favourite attire.”
The skinny guy was not convinced and he asked something that Navdeep was not ready to face.
"Don't you think that Kamala doesn't deserve to be a model. I mean she is not that beautiful and doesn't have any oomph factor!"
"Everyone is beautiful. Your eyes need the beauty to discover the oomph factor in anyone. And please stop judging about anybody's beauty. Happy woman's day, man! I am sure that you will soon get beaten up by the women surrounding you."
And that is when the whole crowd and the models walking on the ramp stood at their places still and each and every person applauded for her. The sound of the clapping hands were so soothing to Kamala's ears, she felt strong. That day was a remarkable day when the real meaning of Women's day was crystal clear. Empowering women had started from the grass root level. It had to just grow generously into a tree.