You introduce yourself as my childhood friend. You tell me you are happy to find me on Facebook. You congratulate me. You appreciate my husband, my son. And then you also tell me that "you look beautiful in your profile pic". Wow !! Thank you so much for your gracious compliments. I accept them with gratitude. I too remember you from my childhood. Aren't you the same person who used to call me "Kaali mata"?
Something that spread like fire and many more started giggling and saying the same thing to me. I used to feel bad. I didn't know words like "insulted" "humiliated" or "embarrassed" at that time. But I definitely used to feel hurt and ashamed of myself. I used to hide myself. I didn't like myself. I used to hate looking at myself in the mirror. I used to reject all newly bought clothes by my mother thinking they were too bright or dark or light or whatever but they didn't suit me. I became what you called me. I took that term seriously and started identifying myself with your opinion of me. I became my color. I became blind to everything else. I became blind to the fact that I was the brightest girl in the class. That I used to answer all the questions. That I was the best actor in the class. That I was the best orator. That I was the best writer in all the three languages that we studied. I was a good athelete. I won Chess tournaments. I won Badminton games. I was chosen as the Master of ceremony on most occasions. I spoke fluently in English and Marathi, both were not my mother tongue. I was sincere and responsible. I was helpful and caring. But what I just became was "Kaali". And where were you all this while? I don't remember you studying or playing or dancing or acting or singing or writing...where were you? What did you excel in? I never asked. I never thought about it. I gave you the power over myself and made you powerful. I made you the bully you were. I helped you to hide your weaknesses and failures and flaws behind this projected power. I helped you to suck my self esteem and fill your own empty jar at my cost.
I didn't know how to handle this at that time. I didn't know who would help me. I felt helpless and powerless. I shrank and became smaller and smaller until I was just an insignificant "kaali" girl. I started overhearing this word from many mouths thereafter. It never left me for a long time. People suggested "Apply besan with milk", "Apply aloe vera", "Apply potatoes", "Apply tomatoes". They used to worry who will marry me. And if I am not married how will my younger sisters get married. What is their fault. They are fair and good looking enough unlike me.
I don't know when. I don't know how. But one day I resigned to my fate. I must have got tired. I decided to accept myself as I am. Slowly, the veil of my blindness started lifting and I started becoming aware of the light within me. I stood up. I shone brighter and brighter. Until I realized that for every one person who noticed my darkness there were 100 who loved and admired me for my brightness. I was no longer "Kaali". I started hearing my name! I was not your opinion afterall. I was me. With my pluses and minuses. With all my shades and colors. I was beautiful in myriad ways. And I liked myself!
Everyday I meet so many older versions of mine. A boy in eleventh standard. Who scored 9 CGPA in 10th. Says he doesn't deserve to live because he is "kaala".
A girl who doesn't go to school anymore. Hides in her room all day. Feels sad and guilty. You know why? Because she is "Moti".
They have taken your labels seriously. They are in pain.
But I am not helpless anymore. I know how to help them. I know how can they discover their own light.
I am their safe place. They can come and speak to me. And take back the power to lift the veil and present themselves to the World !!
Like the Sun they will Shine. Brighter and brighter.