Let me tell you a story.
The story of a little brown girl. She was born to her brown amma and appa, who adored her. Her amma truly believed that she was the prettiest child ever. Not unlike any other amma, because all ammas think their children are pretty much destined to grow up into Aishwarya Rais and Hrithik Roshans.
But there was this thing, They lived in this part of the world, where brown was not beautiful. Brown was unfortunate. Who would marry a brown girl? People would pity those who were brown. But when amma heard things like this, she would shrug it off like it was silliest joke ever, because wasn’t her baby the cutest?
When she was 3, the little brown girl, got a baby sister. Now this baby sister was pink. And white. Now, the neighbours, would sometimes come to Amma and say, ‘Oh-ho, your little brown girl is so brown! That’s quite sad. Thankfully, your other little girl is all pretty and beautiful. So pink, so white”. Now amma, would never hide this from the little brown girl. She would tell her, pretty much surprised, because she truly believed that both her babies were adorable. ‘What do these people know! Have you seen yourself?’. She would tell the little brown girl, that she was the best. The little brown girl completely believed her amma.
The little brown girl also had an unruly curly mop of hair. Her amma would spend hours oiling, combing, and plaiting this hair. She would tell her how pretty her hair was. How everyone asked what shampoo she used, because the hair was just so nice, so perfect. The little brown girl with her unruly hair pulled into two plaits, would grin, and feel giddy with happiness.
The brown girl went to school. There were all kinds of kids there, brown, black and pink. She stayed all happy, showing off her pretty face (her appa said she had the sharpest features) and her long long hair. One day, a very pink and white girl joined her school. Everyone would talk about how pretty she was. The brown girl felt so too. As luck would have it, the little brown girl soon was best friends with the pink girl. They were inseparable. The brown girl would go home and tell amma about her pretty pink and white friend. And how everyone thought she was beautiful. How come they never said it about her? Amma would tell her that these people who didn’t realise it as yet, would know in some years how really pretty she was. That worked for the little brown girl. And she would go back to feeling all happy about how nice both she and her best friend looked.
Then she grew up some more. She always seemed to wear the nicest clothes, and being as pretty as she was, with her awesome hair, and brown skin, she went about her life always feeling good about herself. She never bothered about what anyone said about how she looked. There were times when people would say she was fat, dark, and not pretty. The not-so-little brown girl would talk to her amma about these people, and together, they would wonder what they meant. She was after all, the prettiest. The not-so-little brown girl believed so herself, and as always went about life, feeling on top of the world.
Soon, the brown girl stepped out on her own. There were all kinds of people telling her all kinds of things. There were people telling her ‘Ofcourse, she looked good, brown skin was so in.’ She would roll her eyes and think about how she always knew it, didn’t she hear amma tell her? Then there were times when people didn’t really acknowledge it, and in their case, she would roll eyes at them, their ignorance. The brown girl went through each phase, each day, in her life, comfortable in her skin, confident that she looked good. Because she felt so.
Years later, she met a boy, who would tell her all that her amma always said. He said she was the best, the prettiest. The brown girl and the boy fell in love, and got married. One day, the brown girl, sat back and decided to flip through all her childhood, school, and college photographs. As she scanned through, she saw a different her in each phase. She looked so dark and sweaty in the Sports day picture after all that marching in the sun. But she was grinning like she was a superstar. And Oh My! The picture from the farewell dance for Class 12? What was with that hair! Why was it everywhere! How come no one said anything to her? Someone did, she remembered, but she also remembered brushing it away like it was the lamest thing ever. And her college picnic? What was she wearing? And why was she looking so fat? Was this all really her? How is it that she never realised that she looked bad when she was actually living those days?
The brown girl asked her amma. And her amma was shocked that she would even say such a thing! “You were always pretty! I told you so!” “I wasn’t! Look at me then! I am SO much better now!” She argued. Her amma shrugged like she didn’t get what the brown girl meant. So the brown girl gave up. Amma didn’t understand a thing.
Today, the brown girl is an amma herself. To a little brown girl. Who she truly believes is the prettiest child ever. Not unlike any other amma, because all ammas think their children are pretty much destined to grow up into Aishwarya Rais and Hrithik Roshans.
And all she hopes that she is able to make her little girl feel just as pretty, just as special, as she did herself all her life.
Because truth is, she is.