MY TWO-EDGED 2019

As the new year draws near, I cannot wait to see 2019 reach its climax. This year proved to be quite an action packed, strenuous, emotionally draining and a jaw dropping experience for me. Overall, it was a coalescence of peaks and valleys.

The year started with me getting engaged and then falling in love (yep, exactly in that order just like an ideal Indian cultured girl!). However, with a wrong man. So, I walked away from the fallacious match “so-not-made-in-heaven”(lets dwelleth on the details of that story some other time). Anyway, a few months later, I traipsed into another guy’s life (mostly because of family pressure to get married. You know how dramatic Indian parents get when their girl turns 28!). Therefore, to shush my folks, I convinced myself that I have moved on and started seeing this guy unaware that I was still bearing an unmended heart with bleeding wounds. Irony was, he saw a potential soulmate in me but for me he turned out to be a rebound. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last long. I ended up breaking a very kind man’s heart upon the revelation that the remains of the last relationship were still buried deep within me. Not only did I manage to hurt this good man but also wounded up the feelings of our families who were eagerly anticipating our wedding. I could see the mixture of disappointment and pain swarming in their eyes on my disclosure. Right before my eyes I felt my whole world crashing down. As the reality of my life sank in, so did the guilt, anger and resentment. Consequently, my mind became a quintessential ground for melancholy. Insomnia became my constant companion. As I allowed the negative energy within me get the better of me, I started seeking solace in booze (yeah newsflash- I Drink!).  However, saying so let me tell you from experience, alcohol doesn’t numb your pain as it is portrayed in the movies. If it does anything at all, then it hyperbolizes your emotions in the most hysterical way and leaves you embarrassed the next day. So, take it from me “Never drink when you feel low”.

Nonetheless, despite of all these setbacks which festooned my greater part of 2019, it was these very setbacks that turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me. To begin with, not only was I saved from a marriage that would have been an eternal disaster, destroying my life in the long run, but also the very realization that I walked away from this man despite the fact I loved him cause I prioritized self-respect, my strongly adhering principles and my family’s dignity and pride above everything else was in itself very empowering.  It was this realization that acted as a catalyst to work on myself and my mental health. Not long after, I was diagnosed with depression and was started on therapy. Truth be told, I was battling depression for a long time, perhaps since my teen years (also a story for another time) but it was these series of events that made me focus on my mental health before it was too late.

The last three months of 2019 were my healing phase. It was during this period, I reflected on the lessons I procured from all the drama that happened in my life. I learnt that in order to mend a broken heart you need to go through it and not around it, as I did initially. I have grasped that giving your mental health preference is not selfishness but a necessity. It also made me count my blessings rather than complaining about what I don’t have or of what I lost. I’m blessed with a supportive family and very understanding friends.  I cannot even start to express how grateful I am to my brother who was my rock during this whole time, my friends who held me close to them and kept on reminding me how strong I was and finally my parents who although could not decipher or understand what I was trying to tell them but regardless supported and trusted me.

They say God brings good out of evil and I truly believe that. The self-love and self-worth that once I thought was lost is what I discovered as soon as I decided to take charge of my life.  I realized, me and solely me could change my life, no one else can do it for me. Yes, you cannot control what happens in your life, but you can always control how it makes you feel. Yes, the process is extremely hard but never impossible. Yes, you bear the scars your whole life but once you learn to revel in those scars you can see how it turns out to be sparkling stars. Because these scars are a very proof of what you have gone through and how far you have come. Yes, I made some terrible mistakes of hurting people both knowingly and unknowingly, but what matters is I don’t relive them every second of my life by dwelling on them and blaming myself. Because making mistakes is part of being a human, a part of me and you and we must learn to embrace it. Its true that absolution from others for your wrongdoing matters but self-forgiveness is indispensable. It aids you to grow and prosper. It helps you not to merely survive but thrive and bloom.

Overall, year 2019 did cause me extreme pain but also bought me incredulous joy. Like, my brother got married to the love of his life. I bought my first car with my hard-earned money. Moreover, I’ve started working on my passions of dancing and writing without much procrastination. Mentally I’m at peace. I’m eating healthy and I have lost few kilos that I gained due to binged eating. So, there it is- my two-edged version of 2019. I wish my 2020 be a much happier and a less dramatic chapter. But even if it is not, I will try to make the best out of it because the glass is never half empty but always half full.

UNAPOLEGETICALLY UNFAIR & STILL LOVELY

“You are pretty for a dark skin girl” or “you have beautiful features but then you are dark”. The number of times I’ve come across these comments during my 28yrs of existence is limitless and disheartening. And the more depressing fact is there are times when I’ve welcomed these bigoted remarks as a compliment rather than an insult.

I remember when my schoolteacher plastered my face with foundation 10 shades brighter then my original skin tone making me look like a whitewashed ghost before a dance performance. She rationalized her action by saying that if the audience wants to enjoy my facial expressions while I dance then I need to look more brighter (as if I was going to dance on an unlit stage!!). Anyway, the minute she left the room I wiped my face of all the make up with a nearest tissue paper I could get my hands on with tears burning my eyes, cursing God for making me this dark. That night when I reached home, I balled my eyes out and never participated in any future dance programs although I loved dancing. I was just 8yrs old then.

Like any other dark girl in our country, I was handed over my first Fair & Lovely tube at the age of 4 or 5 by my mother. That became my holy grail at one time which I used to apply religiously day and night in the hope that it would make me fairer overnight as the brand claimed, but all in vain. My relatives and family friends were constantly ready with their long list of DIY home remedies like turmeric, curd or gram to attain a fairer skin because as they believed black was ugly. Furthermore, when I was in sixth grade, my classmate told me that I have beautiful features, but those features would have been more appealing on a fairer face. Therefore, one can imagine what I felt about myself since my childhood. The feeling that I was an ugly duckling because of my color, was embedded in every fiber of my body resulting in low to zero self esteem promoting a fragile sense of self. Constantly berating myself for my skin tone became a routine for me. I failed to realize then, that my complexion was not my choice and I had no power whatsoever to change it. Also, the media industry glorifying the lighter skinned models (whom teenagers idolize for their beauty) was not helping my case either. So, readers, I concluded that I was worthless, and I had no value.

The contempt for dark color is vehemently adopted by our Indian society, despite the fact that India is a land of diverse races and culture, thereby naturally have varied degrees of color and facial features depending on the geographical area we belong. Additionally, this illogical concept is reinforced by the beauty magazines and aesthetic industry to promote the sales of skin whitening and bleaching products which in reality does more harm then good. From an early age, we are taught to adhere to meaningless beauty standards where attractiveness is equated to whiteness of our skin. Even in the cartoons, the protagonist exemplifies as an epitome of perfection with their white beauty and flawless skin. Moreover, in books an ideal man is described as dark, tall and handsome while an ideal woman as fair and beautiful. Thus, the conditioning of our minds to such mentality starts from a very tender age, thereby mitigating the growth of our psyche to the societal standards.

These experiences are not my alone. Unfortunately, every South Asian women of color go through this stigma which not only exist but practiced brazenly by our society. The colorism is so internalized by our community that it has desensitized people to human emotions. It devastates me to see the little ones with their frail heart being oppressed in the name of colorism. At the age when they must be carefree and playful, they bear the burden of racist remarks and discriminatory approach. They are traumatized and shamed for their skin tone marking them as a disgrace to the rampant white supremacy. The harmful impact this ideation causes in the mind of the young ones is dreadful.

It took me years to unlearn the color code prejudice ingrained within me by the ignorant society. The pain was real and the low self esteem very transparent. However, I knew until the society’s perceptions does not change, kids and women like me will always feel that our worth is determined by our color. Hence, I knew I must put a stop to this bias and dismantle the problem from the root.

The awareness that I’m not alone in this battle was my armor to fight this warfare. The fire to prove to the world that I’m more then my skin tone kept on burning inside me. Consequently, after a great amount of efforts of practicing selfdiscipline of attracting only positive vibes about self, I’m standing at a point where I’m completely in love with my complexion. The knowledge that I’m more then my shade and my identity is not the least defined by the mocha in my skin but rather my character and the merit of my achievement marked a significant paradigm shift in my self-acceptance paving way for self-love and self-compassion. And let me tell you this people, that there is something inherently revolutionary about loving ourselves. Our skin hue is just one of an exterior feature. In reality, it is what we are in the inside that is radiated outside which is what makes us gorgeous. Yes, self-love does not conjure in a day, it is a lifelong process and believe me when I tell you that I’m still a work in a progress. However, today if some over caring, fair skin obsessed relative of mine comes to me with skin brightening suggestions, I will gracefully smile at her and say ‘Thank you but I’m very much in love with my chocolate color skin’.

In conclusion, what I really want to tell all of my darling women of color is that “we are not beautiful ‘in spite’ of our color’ but “we are beautiful ‘because’ of our color”. It’s time to render voice to those numerous kids who were silenced and whose childhood ruined for their skin tone. Let’s embrace and celebrate the hue we are born with. Moreover, to all my readers, it is time that we educate our kids that all colors are beautiful, and no shade is ugly. And passing comments and calling names because of someone’s skin color, body shape or background is not cool and totally unacceptable.

Dear Women

You are beautiful and amazing. Let no soul tell you otherwise. You are beholder of a fierce and savage spirit, don’t let it crumble down under the conventional ways of the society. You can be anything you want, everything you aspire for. Not the color of your skin, neither the structure of your body, nor the piece of clothing that envelops you decide your worth. You are equally smart, vicious and tough just like any other man out there who take that tentative but bold step everyday to mark a secure place for himself in this vast world. Trust me when I tell you that you are made for much bigger things in life. Be brave my kind. In your mortal existence you would be painted with many colors. You would be either too fat or too skinny, too dark, too bossy, too ambitious, too flashy etc. etc. but honey believe in yourself because you are one of a kind. These people will try to define you with these tags coz they don’t just don’t get our celestial existence. Actually, we are handful then their minuscule mind could grasp. There is this ancient baggage called patriarchal culture which tells the women to talk, behave, walk, sit, dress and even orgasm in a certain way. And anything not parallel to it is defying the rules of the partisan world. My warriors, the real world is the one you have created within yourself, where you are a badass queen, whose decisions are never tainted by the zillion opinion from other. Who wakes up every morning and looks into the mirror and smiles proudly at the women it reflects, coz she is aware of all her sufferings but also knows she has survived it all. Although broken umpteenth time by her loved ones, she stood up every time to face the world with fire in her eyes and certainty in her heart bandaging the bleeding wound. My sisters unlock yourself from the cage of lies fabricated by our pretentious ancestors to feed the male ego. Set yourself free. You are capable of everything and anything, so don’t hold yourself back. Unmute that silence of yours. Let your voice flow like a glorious symphony impregnating the world missing not even one. Everytime you speak, it’s not solely for you but for all the other girls going through the same ordeal as you are. So lets rise and shine. Hold each other’s hands, be one and make an impression lasting forever. Cause we were born to rock the damn world.