Sitara stared at herself in the mirror. A known stranger stared back. She had lost weight and felt weak. She was in a make-up room after ages. It felt like home, and yet eerily today, she felt out of place. Her gaze involuntarily rested on the scarf covering her head. With trembling fingers, she took off the scarf and stared at her bald self. Hot tears silently gushed down her cheeks. Her thick glossy mane had been the dream of every stylist. It all felt like a thing of the past now.
The press conference was about to start in an hour. She quietly reminisced about her life journey till date.
She was born as Suchitra, in a poor family. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother was a victim of regular domestic abuse. One night, after an incident of extreme domestic violence, they ran away to a relative’s place. He was a spot boy in a regional production house. Suchitra was a good dancer, and by chance, was spotted by a casting director there. She started off as a background artist and slowly, became the bread-winner for her family.
As she grew up, she transitioned into supporting roles, and slowly into glamorous leading roles. She took the screen name of Sitara. She was good looking and hard working. The journey had not been easy. She faced so many audition rejections, before fame found her.
She had fallen in love with a co-star. He turned out to be a Casanova with wastrel habits. When she confronted him, he turned abusive, and started threatening her. However, with great courage, she had managed to walk out of the relationship.
Following her breakup, she immersed herself in work, with her team constantly keeping her call sheet blocked for all kinds of performances, endorsements etc. However, she failed to take the symptoms presented by her ailing body seriously. Her health worsened and a delayed diagnosis revealed that she had cervical cancer, at an advanced stage. The treatment required radiation and chemotherapy, and she flew abroad for the same immediately. Her sudden absence led to a lot of speculation in the media, and all sorts of stories circulated, as her break-up was well-known.
It had been 5 months since then. She was now on the road to recovery, and her team wanted her to give a press conference back in India, that all was well. They advised her to look good and not speak about her health condition to avoid bad publicity.
Sitara stared at the wigs on the table. She did not need them. She had always been a survivor. She had survived it all- poverty, an abusive father, rejections, heart break and now cancer. She wiped her tears and smiled. She was a phoenix and felt proud of herself. She decided she would meet the public in this new avatar, as a proud survivor.
The door opened and she stepped out- barely recognisable in her new avatar.
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