Born in a family of fair-complexioned women, I was always insecure of my dusky complexion as a kid. It never really bothered me, until one day, my friend in school pointed out the difference in mine and my sister’s complexions. Now I didn’t know it mattered so much and I couldn’t answer her back, so I just kept quiet. The song “Mai aisa kyu hu” kept ringing in my head till the end of school that day.

I went back home and narrated this to my “fair peeps”. And then they explained to me that it’s not the complexion of the skin, but that of your heart that really matters. That was enough for me. Because I knew I had a heart that would make even the Chaand feel shy! (Exaggerated :P). So I made peace with myself and accepted my dusky complexion and even sang the song “Hum kaale hai toh kya hua, dilwaale hai!” (I still do!). And then, the questions about me being dusky also died down.

Now. My complexion has come into focus again. Reason? I got back to swimming regularly.

I remember when I’d learnt swimming in the summer of 2nd grade, the tan had taken almost 9 months to fade away. And let’s accept it: no amount of sun screen can keep that tan at bay. Until then all the aunties would be like “ Kya hua…kaale pad gaye??” As kids, these questions don’t really bother you. But as you grow up and become more conscious, these questions are very annoying.

So last year, when I contemplated taking up swimming again, the question I asked Ma was:
Ma, What about that ziddi tan?
To which Ma replied,
What’s more important to you – Swimming or that stupid tan?
Of course, Swimming!! ❤

Now, whenever I come across any acquaintance at the grocery store or anywhere else, the first question flung at me will be,

“Arey beta, tu kaali pad gayi?!
And my eyes will involuntarily roll.
“Haan aunty, swimming jaati hu na…….”
“Arey beta kya zarurat hai itna karne ki………blah blah blah..
(A point at which I turn a deaf ear)

To be true, answering these aunties (and even girls) is a waste of time and energy. Paste a grin, add a few nods, hmms and haan’s and you’re sorted.

These incidents may seem common and funny, but they have certainly set me into thinking.
And I haven’t found answers.

I do not understand society’s obsession with fair skin.
I cannot understand how being born in a dark colour is anyone’s fault.
I cannot understand why girls can’t run under the blazing sun or dive deep into the pool because they love doing it and  it’s their passion.
I haven’t understood the logic behind those matrimonial ads that say :
“ Wanted: Fair-complexioned girl” ( for their son who’s probably a piece fallen off a coal mine)

And worst of all, I don’t understand why girls give in to these norms set by society for them. We bend and break under the pressures of this ruthless society, and they keep setting higher barriers.
I know girls who are consciously aware of the fact that they’ll die if suddenly pushed into a water body, but still refuse to learn swimming because of the tan.
I have seen girls who give up swimming within 2-3 days just because their complexion got darker.
Seriously? Your colour is more precious than your life? And please don’t even utter the words
‘Mere papa / mera bhai bachayenge mujhe mai doobi toh’.  
I’m not saying swim every day, but at least learn it as a life-skill.

How and why should it matter to anyone? If you’re scared that you won’t find anyone to get married, you need to get that thought off your head. True love sees the complexion of the heart, not that of your skin.

You should do what you feel like. Do what liberates you. Do everything that makes you feel more confident by the day. And yes,
Flaunt your tan proudly.
Be proud of dusky.
Be proud of dark.

Be proud to be a part of #TanClan.