Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hari was born to parents named Joseph and Mary. He was only six when he started calling himself Harry. It seemed right to match the western ring in his parents’ names. Though that was all he wished to identify with. There was little else that enticed him.

Harry was a good-looking boy, fair skin, brown eyes, black hair that curled at their own fancy. It was to his advantage that he looked nothing like his parents. And for that he expressed his thanks, praying a little louder and harder every night before bed.

The boy never openly spoke the truth. But his heart would often reach out to his mind, and both would concur that Joseph and Mary were downright ugly. The man was dark with eyes too close together. He had a crooked nose and his pointed chin curved away from his disproportionate face.

Mary’s features were quite the opposite. Her eyes were too far apart, though her nose was straight, it dipped into her mouth. And her front teeth protruded from her ever-parted lips. And her chin, sorry she didn’t have one owing to the strange shape of her face.

When people looked at Joseph, Mary, and Harry, the first thought was – are they even a family? There were hardly any physical signs to tie them together. And as Harry grew older and more handsome, he began to worry and stress, not wanting to be seen with his parents was his topmost priority.

Excuses are never simple, and the more Harry made, the more his parents saw through his charade. It finally led to a confrontation that ended with tears and hurtful words. Harry let loose all his restricted feelings. He told his parents that he was ashamed of the way they looked. It made him want to close his eyes and keep them shut forever.

Saddened by their son’s revelation, Joseph and Mary huddled together in a corner, consoling each other, drying their tears, whispering that Harry was their only child, and they ought to forgive him.

But Harry wasn’t looking for forgiveness, and three months later, he left home to attend his freshman year of college. And the good-looking boy was in for a surprise that was far from pleasant. Upon reaching campus, Harry was bewildered by all the beautiful faces. Each one was better than the next and there were so many to choose from. So he sat and stared for three straight hours. And when a few pretty girls noticed his unusual behavior, they chided him with words that were harder than a slap.

‘Keep your eyes to yourself, ugly, pig face!’

The horrified boy scrambled away in desperate search of a mirror. And when he looked at himself, he discovered he really wasn’t that handsome. Had he been fooling himself all these years? Was he only slightly better looking than his parents? The world around him had suddenly expanded, exposing him to a newer picture of beauty.

Harry called his parents later that evening and cried till he could hardly breathe. Joseph and Mary listened and said what only loving parents could.

‘Harry, dear son, don’t mind what others say. They are simply jealous of your good looks.’

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41 Comments on “A Good-looking Boy Named Harry – Flash Fiction Story

  1. Such an interesting story. It also shows that a stable body image has to come from within, while this boy was too focused on how other people looked compared to him. His body image crumbled by the sight of those “more beautiful”. There are other more significant things he could prioritize other than appearance 😉

    • So rightly said. He got a taste of his own medicine. And his parents, being the loving parents they were, forgave him, consoled him and tried to soften the blow to his ego. There are so many more important things in life than the way one looks.
      Thanks so much for your wise and honest comment. 🙂

  2. This is a touching story. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and true beauty can only come from within. Our body image is influenced by what we know and see around us and it is not easy for young ones – or even old ones – to distance ourselves from norms or expectations, especially the ones we make ourselves. Nowadays, I guess, it’s even harder, because not only do we fight with what we see, we also compete with doctored, manipulated images on social media. What a learning curve for the boy. Great story, Terveen. Wouldn’t it make a valuable contribution to the school curriculum? Read and discuss Terveen Gill’s story ‘A good-looking boy named Harry’…

    • That would be brilliant, Britta. I think children need to learn such life-lessons so that they can be more comfortable with themselves and empathetic towards others. And this vicious grip of social media has created a frenzy of ‘looks are all that matters’. There’s so much more to an individual than a shiny exterior. But insecurities are never rational.
      And Harry definitely needed to be jerked out of his ‘handsome stupor’. It hurts to be at the receiving end.
      Thank you for all your lovely comments. 🙂

    • Thanks Don. 🙂
      For some, good-looking is where life begins and ends. Sad but a prevalent mindset. Your question will have several answers but still no solid conclusion.

      • Yes, lots of variables

        I need to book my wrinkles
        Into surgery
        Got to have a nice smooth skin
        Else no-one will like me

        I’m walking the red carpet
        Next week for all to see
        I have to wrinkle surgery
        Else no-one will like me

        You’re booked out for 6 months?……
        My world is ruined…….

        Never mind dear. Slap on lots of face cream. No-one will notice……

  3. Wonderful psychological twist here. I actually know a couple who have a beautiful girl but the parents are average looking. Everybody would say, “such a beautiful girl. So unbelievable”. The parents are always a little proud and a little embarrassed by it.
    Also I’ve met at least two people who are really beautiful in their hometown, but when they immigrated to America, people seem to stop appreciating their beauty as much as before. This has become a little shocking to them at first. One of them even told me that she is a little uncomfortable that things have changed.
    Fortunately most people, like me, have been blessed with an average looking face that we would never have to go through any of these psychological “traumas”.

    • Haoyan, your stories are always so interesting and so suitable to the topic of the story. Children often can’t understand the pain they inflict upon their parents. It’s such a peculiar predicament. And beauty is often perceived within the limits of awareness. For some the ‘most beautiful’ may for others be ‘so plain’. And demography plays a major role in this.
      Certain places and people have their own concept of beauty which doesn’t match to the standards of a different race or area.
      Thank you for your enriching comments. 🙂

  4. The “Fair complexion” & “perfect shape” are too sensitive. They carve your innocence & fill it with filth & guilt.
    Beauty differs in different places. Had being honest and helpful was considered as real beauty then harry parents would have been most beautiful.
    It isn’t a minor problem that harry was trolled for bad looks. It all comes down to what definition humans have developed for “Beautiful”

    An excellent tale with many lessons embedded.

    • Thank you Tanishq! 🙂
      I agree with your perspective. Fair skin is an obsession that just passes from one generation to the next. It’s senseless and tasteless. Internal qualities, no matter how beautiful, never figure in front of the external shimmer. And Harry received the same treatment from others as he had given his parents. What goes around comes around.

  5. A fantastic story, Terveen. Love the way you played with the perception of reality in this piece; and the undying love between parent and child. A beautiful weekend to you, my friend. ☺️

    • Thank you so much, Jeff. 🙂
      Yes, parents do put up with so much. And reality is what we want it to be. Perception is the key.
      You have a great weekend too. Much peace and joy!

  6. Better the cold, hard slap of reality than living life in a delusional state, besides even if Hari/Harry was attractive, he was still ugly on the inside, so no tears shed here.

    His best bet is to accept his genetics and learn to be at peace with his appearance. A simple fact is that even so-called “attractive” people feel ugly and will sometimes suffer from body dysmorphia and either starve themselves to death or continuously go under the knife until they barely resemble a human being.

    And age is a bastard-beast that often feasts on the beauty of youth, so he shouldn’t be too jealous or envious of attractive people as their looks may not hold up as they grow up.

    -A message from the Stop Worrying About What Other People Think And Get On With Your Damned Life Council

    • The speaker of truth (wrapped in wit and sarcasm) deserves a throne and a crown. And I declare you king. All hail King Rhyan, the fair and mighty, who doesn’t mince his words and will call you a fool to your face if you are one and won’t have any afterthoughts. I really like that about you. 🙂
      No one is satisfied with who they are and even if the outsides are pretty, the insides are damn ugly. Age will catch up and twist those features around. So really, why worry?!
      Think twice before calling someone ugly. You might end up in a worse place. There won’t be a saving grace…
      Thanks for always saying it as it is and making it look so pretty.

  7. An excellent story and a wonderful depiction of the love of parents. Their children mean the world to all the parents, don’t they? Very nice tale Terveen.

    • Thank you so much, Vignesh. 🙂
      Yes, a parent’s love is incomparable. But some parents have to tolerate obnoxious children. Can’t beat the laws of nature. Harry got a taste of his own bitterness.

  8. I bet this is why my kids never want to be seen with me. I love how Harry prays and gives thanks every night for not looking like his parents. That’s hilarious. I think everyone at some point gets a little surprised when they first realize other people don’t see them the way they see themselves. I like to think all those beautiful faces he saw at college were told they were ugly by their parents and developed all kinds of disorders in search of beauty. Anyway, great story!

    • Thanks a lot, Tony!
      It’s a no-win situation. The more you search the more you find. Pretty or ugly or too plain to even notice – we all live in the bubble of our perceptions. When it pops, we fall real bad. I guess, Harry had to find out sooner or later. And those who look so good – what really is the secret? 🙂

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