Kali – this beautiful, hard-hitting and emotional poem showcases how difficult it is for a dark-skinned woman to live in our fair-skin obsessed society.
“You’re so pretty, it’s just unfortunate that you’re dark.”
“Why don’t you want to use make-up to make yourself look fairer?”
“It’s important that the man you marry is darker than you, else you’ll constantly feel inadequate.”
“You can’t wear that color, you’re too dark for it!”
For many of us, who are multiple shades darker than Kareena Kapoor, hearing the above statements is a common occurrence. The tone for these range from concern to pity, curiosity, and mockery.
Such conversations touched a Mumbai based woman. She penned down a beautiful poem named ‘Kali’ that has gone viral over the internet. Hema Gopinath Sah, a blogger, and a proud mother told the Indian Express,
“I once saw a TV interview of a little girl no more than four. She was asked why another little girl was her best friend, so the girl replied because she is fair. The audience laughed delightedly in understanding. How do we ever change this, lift this prejudice, which is entrenched in our DNA? I want to claim the word ‘Fair’ back. I want it to only mean the opposite of unfair. It should only stand for what it was intended- justice, equality, equitability.”
Here’s a beautiful poem that touched many hearts:
It was my mother’s fault that she birthed Me on the banks of Kaveri For try as they did they could not wash the black alluvial soil off my skin. Kali
Little piece of coal my mother’s brother calls me As he pretends he can’t spot me in the darkened birthing chamber It sounds very cute when said in Tamil. An endearment. Kali
This one just got baked a little longer in the oven laughs my father when My mother guiltily presents him with yet another daughter One whose skin only a paddy farmer could love. Kali
I am six when I am made to understand that I who was proudly showing off my 99% in Maths was less than my best friend, At least I’m fairer than you she says, Sadly looking down at her own 73% marks Kali
Raahat Ali hisses the epithet in class 3, that I would get familiar with through the years because I refuse to let him hold my hand Kali
The shame I feel looking at my white face black neck makeup at my Arangetram. The shame Is for the secret pleasure that even though I look like a clown, I am fair For two hours Kali
I burn my skin to a crisp with hydrogen peroxide Congratulations. I now possess blonde sideburns to contrast my black skin. Kali
The proud mother of a prospective groom, who insisted on a fair skinned bride For her son who was ‘white as milk’ Amma told her off in no uncertain terms that her daughter Is dark as decoction and only when you mix the two. Do you get rich aromatic Coffee. Kali
The boy who said your skin shines Like burnished copper. I let him go, I thought he was lying. Boris Becker declared that the only time He noticed that his girlfriend was black Was when he saw how beautiful her skin Looked against his white sheets Kali
Touching my husband’s peachy creamy skin when we make love Wondering how he could find me desirable Kali
Lakme has three shades white, off-white and peach The joy I feel when I purchase my first compact At Heera Panna smugglers market At age 26
It is the mythical, never seen before MAC compact, in the pre- Manmohan Singh era And it is the exact shade of my skin, NC45 They got me. They knew I existed. I had a number. I still have that compact. After 18 years. But the shop assistant wants me to buy NC 44 Because it makes me look fairer. Kali
I’m pushing my light-skinned daughter on the swings Someone asks me where her mother is I bristle that I’m the mother The lady giggles apologetically, Usually only maids are dark skinned no, No offense meant ji Kali
Stay indoors, don’t swim, don’t tan, it’s OK That your Vit D levels drop to 4.75 Depression, stress fractures are a reasonable price for fair-er skin Melanin is a disease, there are treatments for it. Kali
Stick to gold jewellery, silver makes you darker Leave the diamonds to the porcelain Punjabis Don’t wear white, don’t wear black, don’t wear blue, don’t wear pink, Don’t wear light colours, don’t wear dark. Don’t wear pastels, don’t wear warm colours, don’t wear cold either. Kali
She who stands naked Wearing heads and blood Suffering no one Fangs are bared as are the talons Fulsome, fearsome Black of skin Revered worshipped adored Kali.
If you are also a victim of body-shaming, we hope soon you would be able to free yourself from the shackles of society’s negative voices. The voices that make you feel less adequate & less beautiful.
We hope that life gives you so much self-love and power, that it heals every part of you!