When I was seven, one of my pet peeves happened to be the colour of my skin. No one in the family loved me less or nurtured me less because I did not have a cream-and-peaches complexion. On the other hand, they always told me how some of our gods and goddesses who were represented in blue or green were actually the colour of dark rain-laden clouds. I was taught a song in which all things that were black were envied by objects that were of different colours because they could not match with Krishna. When I defiantly showed them a painting of Krishna as a large white baby done in Thanjavur style, I was hushed up with the theory of artistic liberty. When cajoling and coaxing me out of my fixation failed, I was firmly told that I should be working on my abilities and character instead of ruing about a natural trait which is only skin deep.
Yet, it bothered me all the time because my new classmate who went on to be my best friend had the skin tone I could die for. I observed her and zeroed in on what I thought was a major discovery. She had plain curds for lunch while I had it with rice. I promptly told my mother to alter my menu. It just left me hungrier with no impact on my skin. I moped for a while, deciding to give the experiment some more time. My family was amused. So was my friend’s family. One day, my friend saw me scooping a spoon of curds into my mouth and laughingly remarked how fair I had become. There was a ripple of laughter. That very moment, I decided to drop the idea of working on my colour and pay more attention to my studies. After that, there was no looking back at all. I am glad I went through this phase when I was just seven, and got out of it almost immediately. I have often recollected this anecdote with others who felt bothered by their swarthy looks and have sent across the message subtly and effectively.
Recently, I found that a young lady in my radar was in similar doldrums. I shared my experience with her. She promptly pointed out that our pantheon had become fair. She switched various channels which aired fairness creams and showed me how gods and mythological characters had blanched. It was interesting to note that characters whose names suggested the colour of their skin were represented by actors with a European skin tone. She even activated her smart phone and showed me several contemporary pictures of our gods. I remembered how these very characters, played by actors of yesteryears, would paint their bodies in blue to be in tune with the characters they played. I reasoned that artists must have given up this trend in order to protect their skin from harmful chemicals. Yet the trend did worry me.
She refused to buy my idea of self upgradation. Studying was out of question for her as she had graduated out of sheer obligation to her family. Little else seemed to interest her. She was ready to tie the knot, but all eligible bachelors wanted only gori brides. She looked genuinely disturbed.
Now I understood all the brouhaha about the obsession of the Indian subcontinent with fair skin. The passport which could land you in a great job, find you Mr Right, and generally win all the struggles of life hands down, especially if you belong to the fairer sex(!). If we, as a traditional god-fearing country, cannot allow our gods out of our deep-seated complexes, where does that leave us, mere mortals?
I now believe the quip of a feminist whose name I forget, who said, how if all the articles written on the subject are written on one long sheet, it will be possible to lay a biodegradable road for pixies and fairies to go to the moon and back. Let the tribe of people who condemn the fascination over fair complexion thrive.