The first moment, when I stepped into this beautiful world, my parents rejoiced. My mother held me in her tender hands, closely holding me to her bosom and kissing me on my forehead. My father’s joys knew no bounds. He distributed sweets to everyone in the hospital and the neighbourhood. I had given him the joy of being a father. It was a great deal. I was a great deal. Although, it took a lot of time to understand.
At that point of time, having a girl child was like an additional baggage.. rather an unwanted baggage according to the society. But my parents, never felt that way. They loved me for who I used to be, and for what I was. The apple of their eyes – and I felt proud of being in my skin.
Life was happy until I grew up. They say that life gives you a strong blow, only when you learn that it is a blow. Probably life felt that I was ready for the challenges that it had been waiting for all its life. It was time
The only fact that I had not learn was that the world out there is not how it was portrayed to me. It was a meanly cruel world. And I had fight for my existence with the most dangerous animal – the human being. It was just like the survival of the fittest. There’s apparently no difference between animals and us. They fight for dominance and power, so do we.
It is just that they attack physically, and we attack the minds – weakening it, creating insecurities and lack of confidence.
Dad always told me, that I was his little princess – the most beautiful one. I had believed it, but the world did not. Not that I was the most beautiful one, but I wished the world considered me a fellow human being.
My chocolaty brown complexion was not considered beautiful. From time immemorial, we have been taught, that fair is beautiful and dark is ugly. In schools, where we were taught using charts, the fair girl was the beautiful one and the dark one was ugly. Even with colours, the black is associated with evil and white is associated with purity. It took a lot of time to understand the whole situation.
My journey as a little to a teenager and from a teenager to a young woman has never been easy. I was constantly ridiculed, mocked and insulted for who I was. I would usually blame the people who mocked me, but I never realised that it is more than what it looked like.
I started ignoring the world out there, because I knew there was no point in convincing people that I was just like them – beautiful. I realised there was no point in making the world understand that beauty is just in the mind. And beauty can never be defined. I realised that the world out there didn’t consider me to be beautiful enough. I often found myself laughing at the ideology that I was never considered to be pretty during my college days only because I was darker in complexion.
Times passed by and I learnt to live on my legs independently. I loved this life, where I earned my livelihood and became responsible for my actions and paid my bills. I was proud of who I was and what I was.
At 26, I hadn’t found the man of my dreams and it didn’t seem to worry me – not even by a bit. But, with my parents it surely did. And most importantly, more than my parents it worried the society. They would often say “ Are you looking for a groom for your daughter?”
“Ask her to go for some skin lightening treatments, it will give her better prospects!”
“Oh!!! Isn’t she too educated for a man?”
“I can understand, how difficult it must get. A young girl at your house – of marriageable age. I wish she was a little more attractive – we could get better packages for her?”
What does one even mean by packages!! It’s not some sort of a business negotiation.
At this point, people starting seeing me as a social outcaste. Even the advertisements promoted how important it is to be fairer in complexion. I just couldn’t understand the idea of why is it so important to be fair. The idea of colour being an important criterion for beauty always baffled me.
Then came a time where people came to see me if I were eligible enough to get married to their son. But as soon as they saw me , all I got to hear about me was that”Is she the girl?? We would like to think about it, give us some time” And all that we got later on, was a polite refusal.
Was I ugly??
My mom started getting worried for me. I turned 27 , still the world out there considered me ugly. I wasn’t someone beautiful. Suddenly all the beautiful fairy tales I had heard during my childhood seemed like a beautiful story, but a story at the end of the day. The reality is so different. No matter how the boy is, the girl is expected to be perfect. She should be fair, slim ,tall, intelligent, efficient – in other words, perfect.
“Why are we imposed restrictions all the time. What is my fault, if I’m born with this” I would often question my parents. Little did I understand that it wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t a disability.
Finally one fine day there came a guy, who was ready to marry me, to accept me for who I am. But his family had some restrictions. He wanted to settle in London. He wanted to pursue his MBA and lead a comfortable life style there. His family had the condition that my parents buy him a house there and also sponsor his studies. This would mean that my parents would have to incur another 50 lakhs. I belong to a normal middle class family , and my parents cannot afford this. However they agreed to this.
I was mad with anger. I just couldn’t understand the norms of this society.Why was getting married such an important thing in life? It’s not like they were buying him!! Why all this for?? And for what means?? We do not need to live in such a hypocritical situation. On one hand, we talk about how dowry is a crime and on the other hand, we talk about exchanging money like this. It’s more like a business.
I will not support this nonsense. I had made my mind up that I shall fight. I shall not give up. I am not going to be like others.
One fine day, I happened to overhear my parents discuss about the finances, about how difficult they find it to arrange for such a huge amount. This was the first time I heard mom say “What do you think should we do? I never thought that my child would face anything like this in the world. The world out there has been insulting my child since the time she was born. She is going through so much. And today we find it so difficult, to get her married. And I know one thing for sure , these people will never keep her happy. They will keep tormenting her for more and more money. I feel so helpless .”
I came down, sat on the floor and decided to talk the situation in my hands. I held my mom’s hand and dad’s hands with both my hands.
“I know you guys hate me for saying this. But I won’t be happy in such a marriage. I want to get married to a responsible and a mature person. Not someone, who cannot afford to study with his own money. Not with someone, who thinks he can command a girl’s family to sponsor his education. I don’t want to be with someone who cannot decide between the good and the bad, the right and the wrong. I do not want to be among the people who think that they can have their son sold, in order to extract some money.
I want to be happily married. I want to be proud of the guy I am getting married to. I need to respect him – unconditionally and irrevocably. That I cannot do with this guy, or perhaps any guy who thinks I am not worthy of respect. Marriage is not the only thing that can define me. I can survive without that. I am not saying that I will never marry. But all I am saying is that I shall marry someone who deserves me – your little princess. Someone who is a warm human being, and I shall meet someone like that. Perhaps, now is not the right time. When the right time comes, I shall marry. But not now. And if I don’t marry at all, it doesn’t make me any less of a woman. I shall at least be happy about who I am.”
Mom had tears in her eyes as she heard me out “ I am proud of you – for who you are and for what you are. Go, live your life. We are with you in every decision of yours.”
Dad just knelt forward and kissed my forehead.
I had just won a small fight. The battle was yet to be won. The monsters are yet to perish.