By Tulika Jha:
Thank you for making me understand at a very early age that I am much more than the colour of my skin. More than society, I think it’s the onus of the parents to make her children focus on their capabilities rather than on superficial aspects. I still remember when as a child, I came sullen to you one day and upon insistence, I asked you if I am beautiful. That question surely took you by surprise and you further inquired about where it came from. I told you, somewhat morosely though and with my wide innocent eyes, about the new girl in the class who was the epitome of ‘beauty’ (according to my teachers and fellow classmates). She was the befitting example of the textbook beauty that is ingrained in Indian society. In short, she was fair, with long dark hair and pink lips whilst I was a darker complexioned girl with a boy cut.
I complained that she was getting all the attention in the class while I, the then topper of the class, was uncared for. Nobody was talking about my grades. Maybe I was feeling left out and a bit envious or maybe I was just plain tired of listening to my friends eulogize her. Whatever was the reason, you listened to my incessant rant about it emphatically. You didn’t brush this topic off as some futile and transient feeling of a small child and I am eternally grateful to you for that.
You made me understand that it’s our character, our work, our choices and our capabilities that are important.
Today, I love my body, my skin colour, my hair and everything about me. I stand in front of the mirror with absolutely no sense of oh-I-wish-I-had-this kind of feeling. The internet comes out with these messages, ads, stories etc. about not-so-conventional standards of beauty in India but then I already know this, don’t I, Mom?
I thank you for not ever giving me all those fairness face packs, for never telling me that I am not beautiful, for telling me that beauty has so many definitions, for making me focus on my work and above all for listening the childish me.
Your li’l girl