“So, Anuja cannot be beautiful.”
“Anuja can be everything but beautiful.”
“Yup. I can be pretty, attractive… but not beautiful.”
I remember this dialogue a year ago between me and Bhanu at the ISABS lab in Goa.
A slightly modified version would have me saying the exact same lines to someone who would not control his/her frustration and anger as well as Guru B. Something that goes like this…
“WHY can’t you believe that you are beautiful?”
“Just ya… I don’t think I am beautiful.”
“Hell, I’m telling you! You ARE beautiful.”
“Ok. Whatever you say.”
“Humph… This is irritating you know…”
While I coerce people to accept graciously any compliment that is given to them, I myself find it very hard to concede and appreciate anybody who calls me beautiful. Surely, that person is only saying it to make me happy. I ain’t beautiful! In fact, I’d go as far as to say that beauty lies in most things and persons excepting me.
You tell me - Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Yup, heard that before. Generally, I am the first one to point out the loveliness in almost anything and everything. God’s an artist, and nothing He creates could possibly be bad.
The modern version of the saying is Beauty lies in the eyes of the beer holder. Some witty guy. LOL.
But back to square one, I AM NOT BEAUTIFUL.
You ask me why? Well, I’ve got an issue with that very word. It’s almost like the word “beautiful” is an insult to me. It’s right on the opposite side of the spectrum that I have been and wish to be.
“I can be attractive,” I say, “not beautiful.”
Schoolmates and relatives have drilled into me since my baby years that “Anuja is NOT beautiful”, even bordering on “Anuja is ugly.” In a country that considers fairness the biggest omen of gorgeousness, obviously a dark-skinned girl like me was bound to be looked upon as unappealing. I was never plain, thanks to my mother’s sharp features, but my dad’s color that I inherited went against me when I made friends in school. I still recall vividly being teased as “Kaali” (=black) by more than a few classmates during my schooldays, and matters became worse when I started wearing glasses owing to poor eyesight in standard 6th. Discrimination on the basis of color and caste began right then for me, which is why I do not feel very upset when I hear about the fate of Indians in distant America and Australia.
I saw my fair-skinned peers being favored and proposed to, and always wished that I was the same skin tone as my mom and brother. Maybe that would make me popular. Maybe that would make people around me gawk with admiration and not whisper in amusement. It really hurt. Can’t tell you how much. I didn’t run to the store for Fair and Lovely, but I sure cursed God for not making me as exquisite as I wished.
My mum says she was extremely dark as a child. (You wouldn’t believe her if you’ve seen her! God, she’s a goddess! So dainty and delicate and magnificent.) She kept telling me that she was dark then and then her skin became fair as the years passed. Initially I thought she was saying it to make me more optimistic and reduce my misery. But now, I think it’s true. Most people have come up to me and stated without mincing words that I’ve become unbelievably pretty and fair. While I shrug modestly, they keep telling me I look alluring. And you know what I say in return…
And you know what they say after that…
But then, after too many folks had expressed annoyance over my unpleasant reaction, I finally decided that maybe it was time I stopped making God feel bad for having made me the way he did. Frankly, I don’t care two-pence about my looks now, coz I know I am way better than most dames out there in almost every way. Try finding some woman who has intelligence, a good heart without ill-will, sensibility, care, dependability, love, generosity, resourcefulness, humor, objectivity, passion, knowledge, enthusiasm, good sense of music and dance and dressing, adaptability AND a face and body half as good as mine – altogether.
Yes, I do have a raging temper, but anybody will tell you that it’s extremely easy to get on my nerves and easier still to get back on the right side. Nobody’s perfect. I almost am…
So, you see, somebody who is so nice on the inside, definitely looks good on the outside.
I AM BEAUTIFUL.
And so are you…