Feeling Brown- Discovering myself in the US.

I am brown. No, I don’t have fair skin. I’m not very dark either.

No, I ‘m somewhere in the middle. I also have brown eyes and black hair, so common to the traits of brown skin. I am a typical brown…like thousands of them back home.

I was never so aware of my “brown”ness till I left the company of millions of my fellow Browns and came out to mingle in Whites and Blacks. That was when I saw what it was to be fair. Really fair. That was when I realized what it was to be dark. Really dark.

That was when I realized what it was to be in the middle.

I realized I was the product of white skin crossing the Caucasians and the Himalayas a few millennia ago and settling in areas of warm, tropical, almost equatorial climate. My skin is the result of a respectful contract between white skin and melanin, each promising the other to help retain its characteristics.

That’s why hot sun doesn’t really bother me, even on dusty afternoons, as I wait under the broken hood of the bus stop. And I can wear almost any blush.

Very accommodating. Accepting. Steeped into moderation. My skin tells me a lot about what it can do. What it did.

Ruled. Served. Fought. Submitted. Won. Lost. It never met extremes, though. It just…did everything its colleagues did, only with the traits peculiar to itself.

…I pass by a mirror and catch a glimpse of my brown skin. I smile at the thought of the ‘cool’ tanning saloons here– my recent and surprising discovery. And I smile again at the thought of the zillions of fairness cream brands which rage as cosmetic fires.

I am definitely saving some money.

And even though saving money means a lot (oh I’m so broke nowadays) it doesn’t mean everything.

It doesn’t quite explain why I think of elegant, sweeping wheat fields when I see my colour. It doesn’t explain why I think of the coziness of the Earth, or the mild, fulfilling smell of the soil after the first showers. It is utterly incapable of stating why brown is so comforting and appealing to me (apart from the fact that it is the colour of chocolate, of course).

I feel brown.

It penetrates through my skin, into my soul and my consciousness. It reminds me of balance, accommodation and the “middle” path. Brown seeps into my actions. That’s why I can be exceedingly ambitious, but never cruel. I can serve but not surrender. I can win and get away without succumbing to a superiority complex. I can take a downfall and still retain my pride and self-respect.

The colour brown defines not only my race but also alternatives. It has shown, time and again, that there are better ways to write history. It was a Brown who had to fight just one war to grace an empire built on peace. It was a Brown who worshipped secularism in the midst of fanatic theocrats. It was a Brown who fought ‘peacefully’ against his imperial oppressors because he wanted them to depart as friends.

And far back in the ancient times, when the rest of the world was still in a cradle, it was a Brown who stood up to foster its growth based on principles of conscientious duty and practical approach.

Being Brown means shouldering a lot of duties towards mankind, duties handed over by history and culture. Being Brown also means consciously following the path of acceptance and moderation.

Feeling Brown…is something inculcated within the sub-consciousness. It happens. It just happens. Sweeping wheat ears, the rustic feeling of the Earth, and the captivating fragrance of soil blossoming in the arms of the love-struck showers quite easily remind me of my “light chocolate-ish” essence.

I always felt it so naturally. I still do. And, I guess, I always will. There is some unknown gratification in it.

Being Brown is pride. Feeling Brown is precious.




October 2007


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