I Was Called A Crow


Swara Bhaskar has written that when she was born the first question her dadi asked was if the newborn was dark. The scenario has not changed drastically even today.

I have observed that many a girl, to a greater or lesser degree, suffers from a deep rooted complex about her dark complexion thanks to the hurtful remarks she has grown up listening to.

The demeaning comments, made directly or indirectly, right in front or behind her back consist of nicknames like, crow, negress, buffalo,  coal miner, kali kaluti, guarantee colour.

Well, these are old hat. No novelty or originality in these. Here is a bunch of out of the ordinary observations. A dark complexioned college girl whom I adore for her sociability, smartness and charming manners, tells me how over the years she has developed an immunity to comments that have come out from those who have no qualms of conscience while belittling someone who is dark complexioned. In between bouts of giggling, this girl named Rohini narrated to me, an amused listener, the comments that stand out for their creativity.

Once when she wore diamond studs a classmate told her that she looked pretty alright adorned by them and the diamonds too stood to gain as they dazzled with more brilliance against the ‘black’ background!

Another gem of a remark fell into the same category. A friend told her that she admired her sparkling white teeth and the pearlies appeared more lustrous when she smiled, the colour of her skin being responsible for it. By far the most picturesque comment that takes the cake was when Rohini was plainly told that in the dark it was difficult to spot her as her negro colour got completely merged in it.

This was too much of an insult for Rohini to bear, whose power of endurance had exhausted completely by then. “Enough is enough,” she told herself. When she confided about this to her sincere friends they put the blame on her only for being spineless when she was not inferior to any of them in any way. “The next time you face this kind of a situation, give such crass creatures a mooh-tod jawaab without a moment’s hesitation.”

And luckily enough, there came an opportunity where she could avenge her insult boldly. A group of girls including Rohini was getting set to attend a party. One of the girls dared to advise her not to feel embarrassed or left out in the party on account of her being differently coloured. “Rest assured and worry not you must be knowing that stars like Smita Patil and Rekha are dark too, “ said she.

At this point a befitting, strongly worded reply flashed across Rohini’s mind. She replied, ” Keep your bloody advice to yourself. If these actors could achieve super stardom in a domain where looks matter much with their non-white complexion, I with my intelligence, capacity for hard work, good academic career can shine brilliantly in any field I am in a position to choose.”  She continued, ” By the way, ask anyone I am much more attractive than any of you. it is the green monster that is jealousy in you that manifests itself in the form of such stupid criticism.”

So goes the story of Rohini who now displays a couldn’t care less attitude towards some of the self appointed mentors whose dictates of dos and don’ts about the colour of her dresses, etc she defiantly ignores.

These so called mentors strictly monitor the color of her clothes by scrutinising her whole being from head to toe. One school of thought was of the opinion that she should never ever be seen in bright clothes as they look loud and garish on her whereas, opposite was the advice of the other school that earthy colours should scrupulously be avoided as they tended to make her skin duller.

Rohini now dresses up in the colours she loves. Not to make a point to them but simply because she loves those colours.

In this context I would like to add my own experience. My complexion is not dark. It is if at all is wheatish. Once when I went in for my palm coloured with mehendi, one of my so called friends cautioned me against it, for according to her I was dark.

I am sure that if you do not fall in the fair category so to say, you would have heard a comment or two on these lines sometime in your life. Do share the most obnoxious ones here and how it affected your being even if it were for just a while or if it left a lasting impression on your life.

So-black-that is the theme but the outlandish remarks are amazingly many hued!