The frustration began on Saturday, 5pm, when one of the singers sent me two pictures of outfits she wanted to wear.
‘Can I wear this instead?’ she wrote. We had already agreed on something earlier and what she didn’t realize was that if I changed her outfit’s colour or style, it would’ve affected the other 7 singers’ outfits as they were all appearing on stage. I tried my best to entertain her queries but at 8pm, after a long string of texts, I sighed.
‘Look, can we just go back to what we originally planned?’ I asked.
‘Okay…’ was her reply. And no sooner was that over, did another singer send me some pictures of jackets that she wanted to buy for the stage. I sat huddled in my chair, looking at the pictures and felt that none of them worked.
‘Can you wear this?’ I sent her an old picture.
‘I can’t find the jacket…’
‘What about the long dress with the cropped military jacket?’ I asked again.
She sent me a picture of herself wearing it but it just didn’t look good. This went on for a good 2 hours when her duet partner suddenly began sending me pictures too, of a suit he’d purchased. Apparently, he also had last minute inspirations.
‘Can I wear this?’ he asked.
‘With blue jeans?’ I replied.
And it was so weird. He seemed to not have seen my texts because he kept replying that he wanted to wear either black pants or black jeans.
Finally, I called all of them and at 11.30pm, the dust settled. We’d found a compromise. I stretched out and got ready for some quiet me time… when my phone rang.
‘Hey, do you have a black tie?’ an apologetic voice asked.
It was a crazy morning. I woke up late, only to realize that the outfit I’d planned for myself didn’t work. Rushing around like a headless chicken, I came up with two alternatives and dashed out of the house. I didn’t do anything with my hair and makeup as we’d engaged artists for that… but sound-check dragged on so late that when we finally got off the stage, we had exactly 15 minutes of prep time before we had to be on standby again.
I basically walked on stage with unfinished makeup and my hair in some weird house-wife bun. It was not the best of starts.
Things settled in time for the second session when the actual broadcast recording was going to be made but by then, I’d been standing in my sky-scraper heels for a solid 4 hours. I was in pain. An hour later, I hobbled off stage and yanked the shoes off. Then I half-ran to a briefing I was giving… the people had been waiting one hour for me.
The briefing went smoothly and I was back on stage for the closing but once I got off, again, I had to rush off to the other end of the 5-tower building for my next briefing.
This time round, talking was hard.
Besides having no microphone while talking to almost 200 people, I needed to stand on a chair to arrest their attention, battle with movers in the background and distracted people along the perimeter.
By now, I was seriously regretting my choice of outfit – a warm tunic with jeans and those damn heels. I pranced around, shouted myself hoarse and did all I could to get the salient points across to the people… when finally, I gave up.
‘Hey,’ I said quietly. ‘I understand that it can be hard, having someone tell you what to wear, how to wear it and then check in on you to see if you’re following instructions. I also understand that for some of you, this style change may require you to make sacrifices in time, energy and money – things you may not have much of.’
I looked out at the sea of faces and sighed.
‘When I first joined the team, I was a student. I didn’t have much cash and buying a simple pair of black pants was costly for me. So was getting my first pair of black shoes. There may be times it will get frustrating but it can be great fun too. You’ve all been made in His image. You are all creative people because He is creative. We just gotta know why we’re doing this.’
I spent some time explaining the why’s and then, I released them.
‘Into Your hands,’ I whispered to the Dream Maker, before I began my slow walk back to the other side of the centre.
I was looking forward to a peaceful walk – I’d already spent the whole day interacting with people – I needed some down time. I spied a sale and was just about to enter the shop when two girls stopped me.
‘Hi!’ One of them called out. ‘I just wanted to say I loved your performance last month. I thought you were great!’
‘Oh… thanks.’ I answered. That was nice.
‘And… I wanted to know, how do you do your hair?’ she continued.
We stood there chatting for quite some time (my feet! my feet!) and when they finally left, my window of time for shopping was closed. I needed to return to check in on the other people. Resigned, I limped back, very slowly, and crumbled into my chair. I still hadn’t had a proper meal the whole day.
‘God, this is exhausting,’ I whined.
‘Would you have it any other way?’ He asked me.
‘Well… no.’ I replied.
‘It’s them shoes, isn’t it?’ I could almost hear Him chuckle.
Sondy came in to the room and sat beside me. I looked at her and started laughing. She was gorgeously resplendent in her new outfit, new hairdo and full makeup.
‘You look beautiful,’ I said.
‘Look?’ she replied. ‘I am!’ She flung out her arms for emphasis. ‘Hey… I’ve realised that I was so deeply stuck in my personal style that I never got round to trying new things. And I was thinking… that maybe I’d go back to shop some more. Do you have more templates I could follow?’
I was elated. I told her I’d email her what I had.
‘Thanks dear,’ she hugged me. ‘Thanks for doing all this.’
It was the first appreciation I’d received all day.
‘No… thank you,’ I replied. ‘For making it all worth it.’
And that’s why I do what I do…
Heels and all.