“Eh Buddhe (Oh old man)”, I looked around and thought that there could have been a few others and kept walking.
“O mote (Oh fatso)”, I slowed down and yet continued walking but with a little doubt that perhaps I may just have been the target of their adoration.
“Oye takle (Oh bald man)”, I stopped, realizing clearly that I was the perfect fit for such a description amongst the crowd and somebody wanted to reach out to me.
I turned to see a bunch of teenagers sitting and giggling. A few other people on the road threw amused smiles towards them. None felt bad or even seemed to bother about my feelings.
After all it is common in India and especially in Northern India where this incidence happened to make fun of people based on their weight, color, height, hair length, walking or standing stature, dress sense, language, dialect, pronunciation, eating habits,…….
Indians love their laughs. At others’ cost and on others.
And anything goes in the name of humor. The cheapest crassness is at display while laughing at physical looks. We can be mean, really mean. And hurtful.
Ask women who do not fit into the standard mold of being fair, thin, ‘homely types’ or ‘hot chicks’. God forbid if they are dark, fat, tomboyish or ‘behenjis’. They are doomed for a lifetime of criticism, jokes, hurtful messages even from family members and low esteem if they start believing in what comment. It’s like being a second class citizen stuck in a body that you despise. Unfortunately not just men but women themselves treat them in such shameful manner.
Of all the crimes a women can commit, being born ‘dark’ is the most heinous one. Especially if you are born in North India. That is just not acceptable.
‘Kali Kaloothi’, ‘Kala tava’, ‘Kallo’, will be the first synonyms of her name and identity which the society will teach the girl. At times her near and dear ones, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, even parents will pass crude jokes on her looks. Parents will worry for the higher dowry that they would have to spend at the time of marriage due to this ‘misfortune’ that has stuck them.
Off course if anyone jokes on her color, the girl would have to accept that as just the Indian humor, laugh at it or move on. Never ever show her pain.
Tanishtha Chatterjee, I can relate to your disgust and pain completely. I despair along with you at the state of Indian culture.
Alas I do so more because decades back, I too was a beast belonging to the same thought process. Love, understanding and a lady with the heart of a gold and one who is beautiful to the spirit made me realize my folly and correct my erroneous path.
When I first came to know that my could-be-wife had ‘wheatish complexion’, code name for dark skin in India, I knew that I would not be expecting to see a fair girl when I meet her. Upon meeting her and finding a great soul with whom I could relate to and in whose eyes I found myself completely lost, I was again reminded that her skin color was dark and that I can take my time to decide if I had doubts.
To her grace and courage, she had not put on any make up to lighten up her skin color and even till date, other than her day of marriage when she must have been pushed hard to look fair, she rarely applies any make up to look brighter. Nor have I seen her using any fairness cream, ever.
In all these years my love and respect for her has only gone stronger by the day and her beauty of body and spirit has always added brightness to my life, day after day.
But yes at times even I did make fun of her based on her skin color and tried to prove that I was a big hearted man to ignore such a blemish on her. I would forget all my follies and yet blame her for something which was a nature’s gift.
Not once she did fight back or complain and mostly smiled over my taunts or even so called humorous jokes on her skin tone. She laughed when people made fun of her skin tone. Deep inside I know she forgave me and people like me who sinned. She even forgave and continued to love deeply our close relatives who made fun of the skin tone of my son when he was born.
Till date I am ashamed to be a jerk that I was and how my behaviour would have caused hurt to her. Her love has been the saving grace of my life and a strength that has held me together all these years and I can never thank her enough or love her enough for that.
And that is what makes me more mad to see that many of us, not just children but grown up adults who have their own deficiencies make fun of others.
A Trump calls a lady Miss Piggy or Miss Housekeeping and laughs. What about him?
A Bharati comments on the way Tanishtha looks ignoring her own appearance.
A Devanshu had the audacity of being magnanimous to his wife for his companionship despite forgetting on the tremendous follies he brought to the relationship.
Why? Perhaps deep inside when we make such comments, we ourselves do not like our own self and to hide our own weaknesses, we try and shower abuses on others. After all I only have to put you down to make myself look better than you!
And yet, karma has his way. Some realize their follies, regret and correct their path and are able to make peace with themselves. Some bear the brunt of their actions in some way or the other.
It’s time that we realize that humor based on physical looks is as bad as abuse and must be stopped right away. It has no place in civilized society and should be done away with.
Respect and love the person for who they are and not for how they look and you will find beauty within. And perhaps start liking yourself too.
I looked back at the teenagers with a smile on my face and then walked up to them. I held my hand to the child I felt had uttered those words and shook his hand and said Hi. He went quiet and looked back at me silently with cold eyes.
“It’s Ok. Have a good day”, I continued, shook his hands warmly, smiled and moved ahead.
Deep inside I felt as if a burden of karma had been lifted from my heart and that I could walk light again!
Published in Times of India, 30th September 2016, link below-