You are beautiful, it’s true!

Find the woman with sun in her eyes

The first time ever someone would call me beautiful and I would actually listen with a faint smidgen of belief would be right after completing a hike — sun-burnt skin, frizzy hair tied upwards into a knot, and eyes that only and only wanted food.

“You’re beautiful”, he would say. Surprised, I would look up — he was an elderly gentleman, standing before me in the lunch buffet queue. He would offer his spot in the queue to me.

I would mutter an awkward thank you, the kind that ends in a question mark rather than an exclamation and hurriedly proceed to fill my plate.

“I am an artist, I paint — your face has the angles that light can play with; you are very beautiful, I had to tell you!”. More awkward Thank Yous and a half-full plate later, I would steal a nervous glance at him at the corner table.

That evening I would wonder — beautiful, really?

The only things that I had mostly heard before was how dark I was. Dark, yes. Beautiful, never. Whenever I met people after a while, the first thing they would ask me wasn’t about how I was doing but rather how I had managed to become darker.

Kitni kaali ho gayi hai”, “how dark you have become”, they would say.

Haldi lagao, beta”, “apply some turmeric”, others would comment

At grade school, at times other kids would line up next to me to measure skin tones, I would be deemed darkest.

“Don’t you worry”, someone would chuckle, “Krishna was shyam, cyan skinned too, just like you. And, He is God you see.”

I could only be salvaged by turmeric or the leading whitening cream Fair and Lovely, I would be told.

I would harbor the absurdity that fair and only fair was beautiful. I would wonder and wonder quite often — what it would feel like to be beautiful.

In the years to come, I would move to a place 7000 miles away. Little children would hug me and whisper in my ears, women standing in front of me in an airport security line would suddenly stop, weirdos in the train, men in elevators, cashiers at grocery stores, elderly couple on the hiking trail and even friends would utter “You are Beautiful”. Surprisingly, it would not feel any special. It would not matter.

What really would matter though was people not judging me because of my skin tone again. People not being concerned about my shades of brown but about who I really am.

You’re beautiful, You, yes You!

“Thank You!” — you say with an exclamation mark. It does not matter what color is your skin, the weight of your body, whether your hair shine, your teeth look white or your curves comply.

You are beautiful, it’s true!

Like what you read? Give Anjana Surin a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.