how do you response when someone says you are beautiful? for your consideration, first, this person is a guy. quite young. a stranger who happens to be near you. (meanwhile, you are actually more of a stranger, compared to him as he is a local) You may think he is just flirting. It’s nothing serious. Or you may also be flattered. You blush. You think it is a damn fact. You can as well say thank you, assuming that his statement is so blunt. The Indonesian way would be to say, « Oh, really? » It’s a way of showing a surprise.
But circumstances count. The location was a palace. To be exact, Lake Palace in Udaipur. It is a romantic place. The luxurious atmosphere really gives you a thrill, teleports you to another time and space. You’re feeling like a queen? Most probably.
But does it all matter? The signified of the word beautiful is complicated, at least for me. I always find it difficult to explain the meaning of my first name. The first thing that comes in mind is ‘beautiful’. But I usually add ‘lovely’, just to avoid constricting it to visage beauty. I hate to say that my name means beautiful. It’s like saying I’m beautiful. Although my mother may mean it when she gave birth to me.
Belle, bela, جميلة, सुंदर, now the word has become an empty signifier. Too many people have said it. It is floating, waiting to be grasped by someone who really means saying it. Only this anchoring matters.