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Reading, I Wish I Could Tell Her, Opened My Eyes To Colourism

Vasu is dark-complexioned but by that, it doesn’t mean, his life would be less complex; however, it came as a surprise on the author’s part as he himself has lighter-skin!

Recently, I came across, I Wish I Could Tell Her, a book that pierced my heart, written by Ajay K Pandey. At first look at the cover, it would appear like any other light-hearted romantic novel. That’s the reason, it’s rightly said, one should not judge a book by its cover!

The novel is narrated by the protagonist, Vasu, who kicks off with his childhood memories. While he simply tells you the story, you can feel the pain in his not-so-simple life.

I Wish I Could Tell Her

Not another cliché love story

What stirred me was the fact that it was not like any other love story between a ‘beautiful’ girl and a tall, dark and handsome boy.

When I say ‘beautiful’ here, it simply means through our society’s eyes; a fair-skinned, slim girl. Have you heard someone referring to a dark-complexioned girl as beautiful? Yes, they do sometimes say, which is followed by a ‘beautiful heart’.

Though in this story, Vasu is dark-complexioned but by that, it doesn’t mean, his life would be less complex; however, it came as a surprise on the author’s part as he himself has lighter-skin!

The story is written with empathy

Stepping into someone else’s shoes, and writing so aptly, definitely requires minute observation in day-to-day life along with a golden and empathetic heart to feel such a thing!

While reading the novel, I recalled so many incidents that happened in and around me, but seems I was so naïve and ignorant to either not notice it or simply not get affected as anyone should! Maybe because we belong to the other side of the coin!

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Practice of colourism starts in childhood

During childhood, when we used to play, there was a girl who had dark-complexion, and we had the same name and were in the same group. And whenever people had to emphasize that it was not me but her, guess what they used to say?

Just what came obviously on their tongue, ‘not the fair one, but the dark one!’

Her mother and siblings were fair; so, someone even spread a rumour that my playmate was adopted! I remember how she cried, and her mother asked her not to play with us on many occasions after that incident.

It was a time period when we didn’t find anything wrong in our actions; to us calling people fat, dark, short, or mental was simply a way of referring to them the way they appeared to be in our eyes!

Realization cannot rectify past

However, we never realized how the people who were named called by us, would have felt. They must have developed an inferiority complex or hatred towards, we will never know!

While we’re still in touch, we can’t definitely time-travel and rectify those mistakes. That’s one of the reasons why simply peeping into Vasu’s life made me feel sorry for the poor boy!

Matrimonial ads perpetuate colourism

The author highlights the rampant practice of colourism in matrimonial ads! Where the hunt for a fair-skinned, slim, young bride is mentioned in almost every other column.

Nevertheless, there are a few girls in my distant family, who are having a tough time hunting for a prospective groom because they either are dark, short, or big.

Almost everyone wants a fair-complexioned girl who looks drop-dead gorgeous like a runaway model, no matter how their sons are! This is a really problematic and worrisome mindset, but the truth is, deep inside, all these society aunties think alike!

Gossiping society aunties need to stop

Recently, I attended a function where I heard one aunty gossiping about a child who doesn’t look like his parents! The child is fair complexioned, while his mother is darker.

Gossiping in private can still be overlooked if it harms no one. But this aunty went to the extent of saying it on the face of the woman. Making the woman feel hurt and disgusted.

I felt bad for the mother who had to mention the name of the hospital where she birthed the boy! All in order to prove that her child, is indeed her real child.

She didn’t have to do any of this, but the aunty won’t stop commenting and remarking that the mother must have bribed the hospital staff, forcing the mother to almost cry.

I don’t understand what goes in the mind of these middle-aged women when you can’t even see how tormented the other person is feeling by your words!

Colourism is offspring of racism

The book also mentions how people find only white puppies cute, and how expensive they are in comparison to black puppies. While racism is a serious concern worldwide, are we, the Indians in reality, are any lesser in our attitude towards dark skin people?

The craze and madness for looking fair, so many cosmetics in the market that claims on making one fair in some weeks or months time! What is so harmful in being the way you naturally are?

We should ponder over it for a while and think before you point to someone’s skin next time!

If you’d like to pick up I Wish I Could Tell Her by Ajay K Pandey, do consider using our affiliate links at Amazon India

Women’s Web gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!

Image Source: KAVOWO via pixabay and Amazon India, free on Canva Pro 

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About the Author

Avalokita Pandey

An avid reader and a passionate writer, she's a working woman with several travelogues published on Amazon, Kindle & Goodreads. If not reading, she would be seen either cooking her favourite dishes or binge- read more...

4 Posts | 2,836 Views

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