Black and White

By Roopa Ramamoorthi

Black the color of coal
My hair before I turned forty
The cat my mother twisted her ankle
while crossing the road to avoid
The silky sky on a moonless night
the stars, I cannot see in Mumbai
obscured by city lights
My mother’s favorite sari
the one with a border of golden zari
The cocktail dress I admire
but when I try it, not much contrast
with my skin color

White the color of salt
Porcelain cups and cotton
A full moon, or a crescent one
the one my brother called a broken moon when young
The bleached shirt of my father
a sitting judge in the tribunal
An over bleached face
Fair and Lovely Cream over-applied in Mumbai
Yoghurt I eat, the plain non-fat kind
The fluid to erase printed words, wrongly typed

But why does White denotes pure like Virgin Snow
And Black, blacksheep of the family
Why a white lie better than a black one
When someone comments
Without thinking
About a dark secret
whitewashed over
I flinch
Once guilty of the same unconscious usage
of dark and light, black and white
Maybe I care today, maybe I understand