Of the two sisters, I was always the tomboy, the black sheep in the family. And my sister Sara, the perfect daughter.
I never bothered much about how I looked, my hair, my shoes, clothes- as long as it did not stop me from climbing trees and cycling in to the woods. It never bothered me that the summer sun would tan me. And I cared the least if people thought whether I was beautiful. I always thought I was. But Sara was prettier than me and she took good care of herself. Balanced diet, enough sleep and all lotions to look pretty. Brilliant in studies and tennis champ in school. Everyone thought she was beautiful. Everyone wished they had a daughter like Sara.
But Sara committed suicide.
Everyone said she was taken by the monster. The monster was always lurking in the shadows. It was in the cities and now had spread to the country side too. It is present amongst us but we are too scared to acknowledge. It’s a silent predator. Nobody knows when it crept in. Nobody knows how long its been here and what made it so strong but I’ve learnt- it breeds on fear. It comes and possesses the gullible and sometimes attacks the strong too. People see it all the time, but never realize the subtle power it possesses to engulf the unsuspecting. Sometimes wearing the mask of a celebrity, sometime a sportsman, but always promising the world. It would stop at nothing to have you in its claws. And once you give in, the journey to self destruction begins. It was now devouring people physically and also making them numb, emotionally drained and socially awkward. The victims were dead even before they lived. The monster was first believed to take only the women but slowly men too were falling prey.
Everyone I knew had dark skin. Everyone in my family, my neighborhood and my town. Born and brought up in this part of the country having a dark skin was an accepted norm. Our generations had accepted it, my family had accepted it, I had but Sara had not. The monster had consumed her. The TV Ads, the billboards, the celebrities had convinced her that only a fair skin can make her lovely. All her dreams would be realized once she became fair. She was bombarded with the before and after pictures of women becoming successful after getting fairer. The monster had found a permanent home in her. And then she got introduced to the fairness shade card, where she was always on the darker shade and no matter how hard she tried she just could not get the fair complexion that the advertisements promised. She then visited a quack and who prescribed her some potions and lotions for fairness and that triggered vitiligo in Sara. Starting with patches on her face and slowly de-pigmentation patches on her whole body. Sara got depressed and she committed suicide.
I always thought my family and I were immune to this. I assumed we were better bred, educated and emotionally strong. That’s how I thought our parents had brought us up. But the continuous promises of better jobs, matrimony, love and happiness to fairer girls had eroded the love and values of my parents in Sara.
It was all over even before Sara turned 21.
Wish my parents would have known the monster was in our home. Wish we had told Sara, more often, how beautiful her smooth silky skin was, even if it was not fair. Wish she had friends to tell her dark is beautiful, colour is only skin deep. What lies beyond the colour of her skin was what made her persona. Wish she knew the ads showing the boys going only after fair skinned girls were false, real men liked responsible and smart girls, like her. Wish the fairness cream companies never came out with the shade card. Wish her report card and sports certificates were the measure of her brilliance and not the fairness shade card. But the monster has dug his claws too deep in the chest of our society. It gains a little more strength every time a mother worries for the dark skin of her daughter and the monster looses a finger and a tooth every time a fairness cream is shown the dust bin.
And that is not all that the monster craves- once you have a fair face it will want you to have fair armpits, then perfect lips, then perfect brows, perfect midriff, perfect hips. The vileness of the monster will never cease. We as a race need to address this monster. Accept all of us, just the way we are. Have better role models, set good ambitions, instill confidence in our girls, raise our children with better values, reward merit and many other things to cripple the monster.
Sara could not be saved. But look out for a Sara around you. Give her some confidence, tell her she is beautiful and let her know that the color of her skin will never be the measure of a person she is..!!