Shirin was pondering on the word 'dark'. The word meant what it was supposed to mean. But then, why do people use it in many different ways?
That day was a day of mixed emotions for her. But her infatuation with the word started a little before that day.
It was a few weeks after new year. She had been happy with her life and she had one lingering crush on a person. She was a smart person and she considered himself to be equally smart.
But, she learned about the lack of an ounce of smartness in him, the hard way. The prophecy writers had said that if your crush lasts for more than 30 days, it is something more than that, and it could be love. But while writing it, they didn't know that a geeky girl like her will take those words to her heart. And she didn't stop with that.
She proposed him. It was a sudden act of impulse.
It was a beautiful day and out of blue she had a chance of spending a few minutes with him. She looked at him, and she had felt that it will be her last chance. She didn't want to carry her burden further. She decided that she would be okay with his reply, whatever it might be.
But, she was absolutely not ready for his reply, which shattered her.
After having said her intentions, she stood before him, waiting for a reply.
He looked at her, and said, 'You like me? But, I am sorry. I can't like you?'
She was surprised. 'You can't?'
He replied, 'Yes. I can't. You are dark skinned and I am fair skinned. I want a wife with fair skin. I am sorry'
She looked at him and all her love for him stood before her eyes and taunted her.
He left with a look that proved that he was not regretting his decision.
Back home, she couldn't sleep that day.
She was lying down on her bed, with eyes wide open. The word 'dark' and 'fair' floated before her and she could not even cry.
Her days went in thinking and regretting. She was so deep in blaming herself for her rejection.
Only if I had been born beautiful. Only if I had been fair. Fair enough for 'Him'
And she had drowned herself in self-pity.
She had drowned so deep.
And suddenly, she felt that everyone around her looked at her in the same manner as 'him'. She felt guilty for being dark.
To add to her worries, he had told his friends about her proposal and the gossip mill was high.
She once overheard someone saying 'How could she? They will look like black and white, if they got together! And thank goodness he rejected her!'
And to add to her worries, her close friend tagged her for a post in facebook and over a cartoon picture depicting a dark skinned girl, she had tagged her. And she untagged herself from it.
Then, on the way home something happened that stirred her soul.
She was trying to cross the highway when she noticed an old lady with a battered brown bag with her. She was wearing a black glass with a stick in her hand. She was waving her stick in front of her and was trying to cross the road.
The pedestrians all with their faces covered with pretty shawls and sunglasses to protect their eyes, and passed her without a second glance.
And in the busy highway, no one was eager to stop to let an old visually challenged lady cross.
Shirin went near the lady and told her that she will help her in crossing.
She held the fragile hands of the lady in her hands, suddenly she felt strong.
They both crossed after much difficulty.
Having crossed the road, the old lady's face broke into a toothless smile and by placing her hand on Shirin's head, she said, 'Such a beautiful soul! Live long!'
With that the old lady went into a narrow path and reached a small thatched house, which was her home.
That evening, she stood on her balcony and started pondering on the word 'dark'.
She recounted the events that had occurred for the past few months.
And finally remembered the old lady's words. Suddenly, she felt happy.
Her month long sadness drifted away paving way for her happiness.
What would have I achieved if I had had a fair skin? Him? I am lucky to not get him. Such a worthless fool and I feel ashamed for liking him. Though the world says I am dark and so you are not beautiful, I like to think myself as one beautiful soul, just like the old lady said. Yes. One beautiful soul.
Next day, the lady cleaning her home couldn't understand why Shirin had thrown all the expensive fairness creams in the dustbin. She pocketed it all for her daughter for whom she is planning a marriage. She thought it would be great if she became fair after using all this.
She noticed Shirin coming from her room, and quickly covered it all in her sari. Shirin smiled at her and she had never seen her smile so wonderfully and she looked beautiful than ever.
Shirin closed her door and a sad smile came across her lips. She had seen the fairness creams and lotions under her sari.
People will never change.