Dusky Daughters by Sunita Thind

‘Sonni Gauri’ (fair and lovely in Punjabi).
Trampling on this so-called dusky rose.
‘Tusee karli!’ (You are so dark in Punjabi).
‘Selena bought sonni’ Selena is very fair.
‘Tu see Karli’ squawks my tawny, rotund uncle!
‘Stay out of the sun!’ his wife parrots in Punjabi.
Shall we join the illustrious ranks of the brightening and whitening brides.
Lets have a bonfire of this avalanche of skin whitening products.
Perhaps mercury induced and lethal…
These skin tones are considered grotesque if too tawny, too rusty brown or too onyx black.
This processed paleness of the sequined skeletons on glam mags.
Is this dusky darkness devilish?
Are we itemized by the colour of our skin?
Family members met you with the obligatory scorn.
Wilting under an Indian red giant.
Scorched and blackening on a Malaysian beach.
I am the shade of fragrant tea that my Dadi-ma and Nani-ma slurp while
nonchalantly remarking that skin colour dictates aesthetic appeal.
Why should I disown this swarthy skin?
Revolt against my own reflection?
My puha-ji proclaims my mixed heritage niece ‘Has these gray eyes, pale skin, light hair and looks positively European!’
She is a dazzling furore.
What about the dusky daughters?
With the cinnamon doe eyes and endless limbs.
Should I have slathered on the sun screen and appear joyfully porcelain.
Not a golden and caliginous exterior.
Internalized!
Indoctrinated!
Re-iterated!
To believe that a chocolate brown complexion is heinous, hideous and low caste?!
Why not fifty shades of the diverse foundations?
Pearlised and pale….is not the only ideal.
Not the only beauteous ideology.
Mami-Ji would say lather yourself in saffron and ‘haldi’ paste to make yourself bride fair with smooth skin.
Spurned and spurred to this bleaching?
Until we are all bone white and shiny bones.
Caucasian, calcified clones.
Assimilate out of this brownish burden- it is not inferiority.
Perhaps I am ingrained to with this bigotry.
This bleaching syndrome.
White progeny.
‘Gori hai sundar’ (white is beautiful-in Punjabi).
I was once forbade for going out in the sun.
You cannot camouflage who you are.
Lamenting female relations.
Validation for this blanched, tinged cadaverous form.
They want us to be milky and mute.
A spectral ghost.
Do men have an acute, sexual preference for it.
Misconstrued is this baking, bronze goddess.

Sunita has always been passionate about writing and now have the time to concentrate on it fully. She has dabbled in many things including being a model, primary and secondary school teacher and trained as a make up artist. Make up, poetry and animals are her passion. She has recently suffered from Ovarian Cancer and is grateful she has survived it but is not in remission yet. All these experiences have coloured her as a person and enriched the poetry she writes. She loves to sing and take singing lessons and have a beautiful, male Samoyed puppy named Ghost.

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