Beauty must have been just about everywhere. I've seen the mark she
leaves wherever she goes. You can see it in the smiling faces of
young men, the misty nostalgia of the old. Beauty is much sought
after, and very much missed. Poets write her long, pleading letters
disguised as verse. Artists try to sketch her portrait, hoping someone
would have seen her recently and knew where she was. Somehow, children
have the least trouble remembering where she's last been.
It's not that Beauty is aloof, or deliberately elusive. Beauty
had been a child star, when her fresh innocence and infectious laughter
had charmed many who had seen her. Her parents told her not to go
outdoors too much. They were afraid of what dangers the world might
pose. So she hid herself where only a few privileged admirers could
find her. Sculptors and scholars, artists and millionaires would
come to woo her. At first, it was all very exciting, even flattering.
But Beauty soon grew tired of being treated like an exhibit or a possession.
One night, when no one was looking, she ran away. They've been searching
for her ever since. The authorities have no idea where to start.
All the clues given by those who claim to know her have led to dead ends.
You'd have thought that Beauty would've been recognised by now.
Perhaps she has always been good at hiding in plain sight. She can
walk down a busy street and not be noticed by a single passer-by.
Then again, most of them have their heads down all the time, and are usually
in a hurry. Or maybe no one expects to see Beauty appearing
around their ordinary neighbourhood, so it doesn't sink in even when she's
right in front of them, or just across the street.
Beauty has had many lovers. She's been known to visit some of
her old companions, Passion, Truth, and Joy quite frequently, but she enjoys
the company of anyone who will spend some time with her, and not make too
much of a fuss about it. Some would say she's pretty indiscriminate
who she hangs out with. Once in a while, someone who
knows her will run into her, quite by accident. Occasionally, you'll
hear someone declaring that he's pinned her down at last. But the
moment too much attention is drawn, Beauty disappears again.
Sometimes I think I catch glimpses of Beauty, usually in the oddest
of places - at some small art gallery, in between old shop-houses, in the
swaying branches of a raintree, a stone's throw away from sunset, in the
shadow of cracked paint. You might have seen her yourself - she's
small for her age, but very nimble, shy yet insatiably curious. She
has an inner glow which makes it seem like she lights up the air around
her. Just once, I managed to look into her eyes - they were bright
and sad and lonely, and so shiny I could see my reflection in them.
From that moment, I lost all desire to hunt her down. She could be
anywhere by now.
If you do spot Beauty, take some time to get to know her. She
will not stay, but she may rest for a while and tell you the stories she's
picked up from her years on the road. Beauty has a soft, soft voice most people would miss what she has to say, unless they were really paying
attention. But if you listen carefully, you might learn where to
find Beauty again the next time you need her in your life.