“Prevention is better than cure”, Diya had heard from her mother since childhood. Life revolved around her mom’s discipline – mom was very particular about grooming and cleanliness & the lazy Diya used to try all her tricks to get away from mom’s morning inspection – teeth, hair, skin, nails, everything had to be clean. “Uff, what a prison I have been confined to”, she often wondered.
Then came college.
Gone were the days of parental care and protection. Life in college was her ticket to freedom. Life in hostel was about late night parties, lots of junk food, midnight snacking, that “lift my mood” midnight chocolate shake etc. Mom’s golden advice and discipline soon found its way into the dustbin.
Burning the midnight oil partying & waking up just in time for the lecture became business as usual. Just like the “brush it up, groom it up” rules of her hospitality industry, last minute face wash, just the right dab of makeup & lots of mint worked for her. “Who needs to brush everyday when mints do the job? Now not even mom is around”, Diya often joked with her room mate.
Two years passed amidst all this fun & laziness. Mom’s checklist was now confined to periodic checks on phone. Thankfully for Diya, her mom hadn’t yet become tech savvy, so the conversation was on phone without any video calling. Whenever mom asked Diya if she was taking good care of her teeth, skin, etc., Diya gave the perfect answers in the perfect tone, and mom soon began to believe her daughter had grown up into a responsible young lady.
The body though did give Diya warning signs, hoping she would pay some heed and stop running on the highway to hell. Diya had begun to see the occasional blood in the washbasin while brushing her teeth. Her gums had become perennially swollen. A chilled ice cream had become a painful affair. But Diya was in no mood to read the signboards. She was running fast on the highway to hell. The blood in the washbasin was ignored in a hurry, the cold unbearable foods were replaced by the comfortable hot cocoa. The gums often felt retracted from the teeth, but Diya ignored every sign.
The signs were getting stronger.
Already dumped by her boyfriend due to her bad breath, Diya had begun to feel a sort of inferiority complex. She feared confessing it out to her mom, and a visit to the dentist meant flushing out her monthly budget in one go! Campus interviews were just about to begin, and Diya was banking on the five star deluxe hotel chain she had always aspired to work with. If she got through, it would have been a dream come true for her. The bad breath did bother her, but thinking that the interview panel wouldn't obviously come enough to know about her bad breath from a distance, she was relaxed.
And then the worst happened.
It was the D-Day. All the students were getting that perfect look to get hired. Diya had the perfect look, the perfect makeup, the perfect scores & the right personality. Excited for the interview, she got up early and went to the bathroom to brush her teeth. As she began brushing her teeth, she felt a strong pain. Being used to pain in the gums and also, being in a somewhat sleepy mode, she continued the strokes with her hard brush. However, the blood in the spit was more than the daily dots. It was as if someone had injured a part of her mouth. In pain & in shock, Diya looked at the mirror & saw the worst – her front incisor tooth was gone!
Diya had ignored the signboards & the fatal dental accident had now happened. With an hour to go for the interview, she couldn’t do anything to cover up the lost tooth. No matter how good one’s scores were, hospitality was a lot about good looks & nobody would have preferred hiring a front office executive with her front tooth missing. Diya was rejected after the first round. Her dream of 3 years was broken in one go.
Unable to bear the embarrassment, she escaped into the washroom. From her teary eyes, she looked into the mirror - her perfect face spoiled by the loss of just one tooth. “I wish I had seen the signs”, she said.