Main pehle bahut kaali hua karti thi. Fir maine ek din TV par ek ad dekha aur meri qismat badal gayi…maine ek fairness cream order ki aur dekhte hi dekhte 4 dino me meri rangat nikhar gayi aur main pariyon si khubsurat lagne lagi…aaj hi order karein fairness cream😁

Do you guys remember those dubbed commercials we used to watch and imitate?  Now tell me who all read these lines in the same way ?

Well I had no intention of submitting any post for this challenge of freedom but last night, as if guided, I got a voice in the head which asked me to share my experience.

So here I am, ready to bore you with another life story of mine. Kripya ande aur tamatar dur rakhein🍅🍅🥚🥚….oh sawan ka mahina hai, I will be saved . All grace you see.😀

Well I was always shamed for my skin color as I am dark complexioned (just like my Kanha,,and I m blushing thinking this😊😊)

My father and his family are fair skinned people with good height and my mother is short and dark complexioned. So since childhood I have been listening to all kind of taunts like “lambayi thik hai par rang me maa par chali gayi “ (height is fine but she got her skin color from her mother).

They also used to say sarcastically finding a groom will be difficult for her, her babies will be dark skinned too.

Damn our society knows how to break a child’s morale and confidence so easily with their careless words.😏

My mom used to console me but it never helped.

Fortunately I was good in studies, class topper till 9th and regained my same position in my college too. Therefore I was a favourite student of my teachers and loved by my friends, as I would like to believe they loved me for who I was then what I can offer them in return, read helping in their exams.

But honestly my best friends are still those school classmates and they never judged me on my color.

Then one day a south Indian family came to live next to our house. Husband, wife, a son and a cute daughter. They all were dark, no offence, but I felt bit better to see them that there are people more dark than me. What I liked most about that family was the woman. She was absolutely dark in skin color, with bright shiny teeth. She was so gracious and ever smiling. Her dark skin had a wonderful glow as if 100 bulbs were illuminating within her. She made me realise that skin color has nothing to do with the character and nature of people and it doesn’t make us any less.

With her help and age, I started to get confidence and excelled in every field I ventured into. And this skin color stopped bothering me.  Or may be I thought so. Picture abhi baki hai mere dost.😉

On the first day of my joining in my new office, I was to be put under a senior editor, let’s call him Kumar. He was like Swami’s Naga Guru, so much experienced and knowledgeable but still could not control his mental tendencies. He was one of the best in this trade, his father a famous editor of a big newspaper, his sister very famous madhubani painter and he, himself was the best. Learning from him would have been a pleasant experience for me.

But the moment he saw me, he made such a face that I can never forget. He told the management, verbatim “ye kis kaali ladki ko rakh liya kaam par? Main isse nahi seekha sakta” (how can you hire someone so dark skinned? I will not guide her)

Now this was such a shocking experience.😔 I got out of that room immediately, went to washroom and cried for long. My immediate boss however was very kind and motivated me that I am worth this job and he trusts me completely.

I came home and cried whole night. But then I decided I will show Kumar what a big mistake he made by not guiding me. (revenge and ego ka khel babu bhaiya😆)

Next day onward, I started to silently observe Kumar and his knowledge which he was happily parting with two fair skinned Manipuri and a Punjabi girl.

Just by observing his ways, I learnt a lot. A habit which I had since childhood.

(FLASHBACK- My elder brother got admission in grade 1 and I used to silently observe what he was memorising  and when the turn came for my admission, I was exempted from nursery and was made to try for Grade 1. Due to the age factor I had to wait for one more year so I was put in UKG. Just like Swami was exempted from the first year of his bachelor’s due to his knowledge  in that field. At least I have something in similar🙋‍♀️).

One day I and other two fair skinned girls were to appear for a test to show competence of our skills. To Kumar’s surprise I performed so well that he could not control his anger. He threw a water bottle towards me and fortunately our Publisher was present. He scolded Kumar and Kumar acted of fainting. That was the last day of Kumar in that organisation.

Then I was put under another lady , who somehow liked my way of dealing with work. She then told Publisher one day that, “Shalini is a very self motivated girl and she doesn’t need supervision. Give her task and she will outperform”.

That was the best compliment I had received. All went well thereafter.

But deep within me, Kumar re opened a wound which was covered for very long. I was scared of trying dresses of many colors as I used to feel those will make me look more dark. I was very conscious of using any sort of make up as with patchy creams, foundation, lipsticks and kajal I used to look horrible (yeah I had no make up skills then, as if I am a pro now…🙄🤪)

Though everything appeared normal on the surface but deep within it was taking a toll on me. I started to put on weight badly due to all the stress and of course bad lifestyle. (now I was moti kali bhains for people🐃). This made me feel more inferior in every sense, even when professionally I was excelling.

Then as always, HE came to my rescue. Swami had entered my life few years ago and then one day I got an opportunity to see him live in his meditation retreat in New Delhi. I was super excited. But when I received a mail from the OS regarding the norms to be followed during the retreat, I was upset. The requirement was- we had to wear white clothes.

Damn I never worn white, except for my school uniform shirt, and here I had to wear them for 3 days. I rushed to the market and bought new white suit and two white shirts (repeating same dress for the whole retreat would have been a stinky affair😂😂)

Well on the first day, I wore white , looked into the mirror and felt so bad that I can’t describe in words here. My mom hugged me with no words exchanged. I headed straight for the venue.

There I saw beautiful fair skinned ladies, in fine cotton white suits, diamond studs in their ear, expensive watches on their wrist and the white gold chains in their neck. They were looking like part of some elite group and I felt so small that I had to rush to washroom to control my tears. I was not sure what am I doing here among these beautiful ladies and raees log.

(That’s how our mind works, we always see where we are lacking and feel unworthy and unwanted.)

However I took my seat, in the absolute corner near one of the entrances of the hall so that I can rush out if I feel suffocated or feel more uncomfortable in the company of such people. I did not speak with anyone on day one, except a kind lady who herself approached me and had a few words with me. I can never forget her smile and how graceful she was. She was none other than our Sonia OM. May her soul find peace in Vaikuntha.

Next day I again chose the same place to sit and this time I had a lovely girl sitting next to me and she initiated a conversation. I felt very comfortable with her. While talking we had a lovely gentleman sitting just behind us who also spoke to me about swami ji and his love for him. That day I felt I was only seeing people who were kind, had no issues with me in terms of color and body type I had, and had only devotion for the lord.

That was a very comforting day and I felt so good and confident that, with grace, next day I volunteered to make the arrangements for people who were coming to attend the press meet of the book launch.

(these two lovely souls were Vandana Jaiswal and Rajesh OM Chatterjee). I am grateful to you guys.🙏

That day onward something changed forever in me. I don’t know why but since then I never felt uncomfortable with my skin color. HE did HIS magic, as always silently.

I proudly wear whites now. I even went a step ahead and started to use bright pink and orange lip colors, dark kohl and tried on neon dresses and nail paints too. I started to receive compliments and romantic proposals too.😍

It was such a liberating feeling and I felt free. May be that retreat was organised to permanently break the cage that the world had created around me.

After that on many occasion, people did make fun of my skin color, but within me I didn’t feel anything.

And till date I don’t care about it.

This was my story of freedom. Freedom of rising above the social acceptance based on skin color.  

Jai Sri Hari

(Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay )

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Shalini Pandey

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