In a land of the skin colour obsessed, in a time where ‘fair and lovely’ creams are now ‘fair and handsome’ creams for men…one cannot escape from the reality of the colour of our skin. And in a house where surprisingly little has been made of the hues of our skin, the conversation has suddenly crept in…slinking in through the back door like an uninvited guest.
I noticed some conversation between the boys earlier about skin and colours when they were talking about a classmate who is very fair. “He has different skin” said Nish. “Aai and I have the same skin” he added. “Sid has different skin too.”
I talked to them about how each one of us is different in so many ways and skin colour is just one of those many many things. What matters is who we are. I showed them how even my parents had different colours of skin and hoped the conversation was over.
It was…for a few weeks. Then, this morning as I got the boys ready for school, Sid stared intently at his legs and knees. “Why am I dark brown?” he asked “my knees are almost black” he continued. “You are a lovely colour” I said. “I love the different browns you have!”
“But Nish is not this brown…he is a very very light brown” Sid replied
“I am like Aai and Amu” Nish confirmed
“You are like your ajoba (grandfather)” I told Sid (he adored his ajoba)
He looked a little longer at his legs. “It’s ok?” he said/asked
“You’re beautiful” I replied.
I love his gorgeous colour and I really don’t know where he is getting this colour complex from. It is so easy to pick up on sub text and random conversations, to sink into the mire of societal constructs of beauty and value. I just don’t want that affecting his self worth in any way. My Sid is a stunning boy just the way he is and I hope that with time he learns to appreciate himself for all that he is…a bright rebellious little spirit who is empathetic and caring and affectionate…my thinker outside the box, my destroyer of boxes for that matter…I hope he breaks out of this box too!