A page torn off a magazine sat in my mum’s wardrobe. It had a picture of a young lady clad in a sari. One of my maternal uncles, who was close to my mum in age and also closest to my mum’s heart had given it to her and told her that I would look like the lady in the picture when I grew up. When I was shown the picture I didn’t exhibit any emotion; I was neither happy nor sad at the notion that I may look like the lady in the picture. It didn’t seem to excite me as much as it did my uncle who tore it and gave it to my mum who in turn kept it safely in her wardrobe.
Typically people tend to look like their parents or are a mix of both parents or look like an aunt or a cousin, It is also quite common to look like a relative, sometimes even a distant cousin or a granduncle. I was not a day older than 10 at the time and now when I look back, that was the first instance when I was not only told that I looked like someone other than immediate family, it was a prediction about my future ‘looks’!
I was going to be told many many more times that I resembled a host of different people!
On the heels of this ‘you will look like the lady in the picture’ episode, there came a Bollywood movie, Masoom based on Erich Segal’s book ‘Man Woman and Child’. I supposedly looked like the child actor who played the role of the older daughter in the movie!
All through high school and for a good part of college I was told that I looked like Mickey Mouse! I had a classmate who called me Mouse and it stuck. I would always respond naturally to being called ‘Mouse’ like it was my real name! I began to believe I was a walking talking real-life cartoon 🙂
Then there was this classmate I met on my first day of college who told me that I reminded her of one of her high school classmates and another friend. (TWO people! Wow!!). She and I went on to become best friends and still are! Even though I have no recollection of this exact conversation (though I do remember we chatted away on that long bus journey to college and seemed to hit it off right away), in a conversation we had about two years ago, she remembered having told me this all those years ago. I am sure she did; she has an elephant’s memory!
Every time I meet someone new, I am told that I look like his/her best friend, cousin, classmate. Or I am told that I look familiar or that they think we have met before. It is such a common occurrence that I reply with, “oh you must think I am Urmila Matondkar (the child actor from the movie Masoom that I talked about earlier), but I am not her”. It sometimes brings out some laughter and some other times, the person starts talking about my lookalike. It was only once that I actually met a friend’s cousin (after being told how much I was like her) who looked like me. Maybe she is my doppelgänger? She not only looked like me, we shared the same birthday and were alike in more ways than just looks. Maybe my long lost twin?!?!?!!
And then last week as I stepped out of the supermarket after my weekly shopping, with three big heavy bags of grocery, fruits and vegetables, a man (probably in his late thirties or early forties), walks quickly towards me, and asks, “Are you Niveditha?” I replied in the negative and told him identification might become easier if we all wrote out our names on our masks which we wear when we step out these days, thanks to the Corona Virus Pandemic. To which he replied, “I thought you were a classmate of mine from college and its been 20 years since I have seen her, and you look like her”.
So Niveditha, Urmila, lady in the picture, Mickey Mouse, someones’s cousin, someone’s friend, someone else’s classmate. I seem to have a very familiar face! Does this happen to you too?