Brown and Lovely

A fish needn’t be told how to swim nor a dog be told how to bark or wag its tail. Perhaps, it’s just human beings that need to be told to be ‘Humans’ all the time. From questioning this truth, actually not doing so, I wondered why people misbehave or use hurtful statements when we call ourselves civilized and wiser than other species. When life is all about being happy and treating others exactly how we want them to treat us. So simple! But no, we typically love complicating our lives!

As a child I who grew up in the Naval bases in various part of Coastal India (as my father served the Indian Navy). I met a lot of people from all across our nation. Fascinatingly, we have a lot of people from North India, serving the Armed Forces. Due to their lineage, their skin color is fairer than the skin color of the South Indians. Growing up in the Coastal Indian cities, my brown skin turned dark brown as I enjoyed playing in the hot sun & the sand. Most of my friends addressed me as the ‘Crow’. Habitually, I shrugged off the word and did not bother. Nevertheless, when others too joined in bullying me, one day, I broke down and went right to my Hindi teacher and complained about those boys. He very affectionately, took me to his staff room and asked me a few classic questions, “Do you know the Dohas (Couplets) of Rahimji?” Since Hindi was he only subject that I scored well, I answered in affirmation. “Do you know which ‘God’ is loved and adored by most of us in India?” I said “Lord Krishna”. “Do you know the color of his skin?”He continued. I thought for a while and said Shyam rang (dusky color) so, here I had my answer. That was the last time I ever cried when people passed comments on my complexion, because I was enlightened soul now believing I the fact that I resemble God himself! People often wondered why I never reacted when they gave me weird titles for my dark complexion. During my graduation, I returned from every NCC camps completely charred and it was amusing when people said “the only features that are visible on your face are your teeth and your eye balls”. I smiled and thought, “So what”?  Does that in any way reduce my love for life? Does that in any way reduce my talent? Does that in any way make me inferior to anyone? Or does that in any way stop me from creating positive impact on these many people who love me for my work and myself?

It’s time now to change the way advertisements in India promote Fair and Lovely for men and women, encourage songs with lyrics “gori hai kalaiyyan” “gore gore mukhde pe kala kala Chashma”. A star of Bollywood whom everyone epitomizes, makes statements that ‘Fair & Handsome’ is what men should use. Such statements sound very dangerous considering the influence Bollywood celebrities have on youngsters and people in general. With these stars awarded and bestowed with honors regularly, actually believe their hype and opine on just about anything under the Sun. What is even more annoying is that these names are the ambassadors of Indian entertainment industry and many more campaigns. These stars are taken by the advertising companies to be the face for brand campaigns that ride on Indian themes.

Skills, abilities and strengths and potential have nothing to do with the color of a person. To call someone gora(fair) or kala( black) definitely is derogatory and absolutely a racist remark ( internal).  When I attended a workshop conducted by a skin care expert in Chennai, a couple of years back I was shocked to see the expressions of my so called friends who rose their eyebrows when ‘the best complexion award’ was given to me. They straight away approached and asked the expert why I was chosen over many others who had fairer skin color. Interestingly, she replied with a smirk “a good complexion is flawless and nourished complexion and not the one which is uneven , dull and ‘white’ in color. Pale skin can never be a great skin unless it is even , flawless and well nourished.”

Today I would like to thank my Hindi teacher for those warm words that awakened me and to all those who love and loved me for just the way I am & I have been .I love my chocolate brown skin and I take pleasure in being Brown and lovely.

A S Jyotsna
A S Jyotsna
Ms Jyotsna is a faculty member in the Department of English . She has translated Tantrasar, a Hindi book on the principles of Kriya Yoga into English, for the Belure Mutt, Kolkata. She has travelled widely, participating in a number of adventurous activities like parasailing, trekking, mountaineering and rifle shooting. Her hobbies are singing, playing badminton, painting and cycling.

  1. It is a motivational article for the people who are dark coloured Mam. Great article mam

  2. अभी-अभी मैंने आपका संस्मरण पढ़ा । मन भावुक हो उठा । अब आप एक ऐसी खूबसूरत तितली हैं, जिसने अपने इंद्रधनुषी पंखों को अपनी मेहनत और ईश्वर के आशीर्वाद से प्राप्त किया है । मनुष्य का गोरा रंग सभी के आकर्षण का केन्द्र हो सकता है, पर आत्मिक सौंदर्य को परखने की क्षमता किसी-किसी में ही होती है ।
    “Beauty is not who you are on the outside, it is the wisedom and time you gave away to save another struggling soul like you Jyotsna Mam.
    आपकी आंतरिक सुंदरता को कभी श्रृंगारिक उपादानों की आवश्यकता नहीं होगी । आपने अपने मन के भीतर उस अक्षयस्रोत को ढूँढ लिया हैं, जहाँ आपके लिए कुछ भी असंभव नहीं ।
    आपके हिंदी प्राध्यापक महोदय जी को शत-शत नमन । ज्योत्स्ना जी आप, सब के लिए प्रेरणास्रोत हैं, मुझे आप पर गर्व है ।

    • Mujhe bachpan see hi spne Hindi teachers bahut ache lagte the mam.Maine paya hai ki ve adhik prernatmak baten karte hain sur kchatron se pyar se bartav karte hain.Meri khushkismati ki mujhe aap jaisi pyaari colleague mili

  3. Mam this is your student from bcom 1d the lines were heart touching mam and we love the way you teach!

  4. Mam, yoy have enlightened so much with your write up. we ad your students find ourselves blessed and fortunate to have a teacher with so much of positivity ❤

  5. Good piece of writing Mam. A thought provoking one. I appreciate that you have the stomach to fearlessly put forward your point.

  6. It’s wonderful story. This proves that skin colour has nothing to with the Talent. You’re truly inspiring, and I hope this will surely help lot of them.

  7. Yes, Mam beauty is the soul not the color even the brown and white egg contains same amout of protien Moreover brown rice and brown bread more good for health than white.

  8. It is really heart touching and a great thought which we all as “human beings” should understand..loved it ❤👌👌👍

  9. I Too Agree To Above Statements Jyotsna Mam.
    You Really Open Up And Showed Mirror To Someones Who Might Beleive That Being Fair Or Using Superstar Advertising Product Doesnt Make You .
    “It Is You .. Only You. And You are the Only One “.
    Loving Myself And Be_😎.

  10. Thanking you for enligtening us ma’am! A well written narrative which shows the importance of loving yourself and being what you are! And after all skin is just a skin, if needed then we should colour our souls with a better shades possible!

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