Fair and lovely

Fair and lovely

The advice toavoid the sun was something easily said than done.

The advertisers know when to catch you. They show you washing soaps in the afternoon, dirty toilets and toilet cleaners at dinner time, fairness creams and deodorants in the evening, and colourful condoms at night. After resisting all their gimmicks for years, I fell into the trap recently, and bought myself a ‘fairness cream.’ It claimed that one would have a radiant glow in a fortnight with regular use of the product. When my skin became darker after a fortnight, I switched to another, and then to another.

It all started when Vinay, my helper’s four-year-old son made a remark on my appearance one day, last month. He was playing with an improvised motorbike he had made with a toothpaste carton when he suddenly looked at me and said, ‘Your face is burnt,’ and went back to his game . It made a profound impression on me, more than the well meaning and tactful suggestions given by my friends to do ‘something about my face.’

The first dermatologist I went to, looked at my name in the file and said, ‘We had an anatomy professor with the same name in college. She was a terror! Is she any relation?’ It was only when I denied any knowledge of the worthy professor, did he look at my face.
‘The dark patches will go slowly. Avoid the UV rays during the day, and drink eight glasses of water every day,’ he said. The creams, lotions and vitamins he prescribed left a hole in my wallet. The advice of avoiding the sun was something easily said than done. I sat indoors for one day, and we were left with no drinking water. In our area, the water trickles in for an hour in our low garden tap when the sun is overhead, and the UV rays are having a field day.

The next dermatologist I tried, warned me about his stiff fees, before confirming the appointment. He prescribed a long list of expensive creams and lotions and vitamins, which I tried diligently for one month. He also forbade me from going out in the sun from 9 am to 5 pm, which I ignored. I wore the sunblock he recommended to the bank, and got stares and titters. Somebody said in a stage whisper, ‘She is rehearsing going to the IPL match!’

After trying various allopathic, homeopathic and Ayurvedic doctors, I found that my face had become even more burnt.

Strangers started giving me advice in the bus about various home remedies. The suggestions ranged from applying honey and various flours on my face, to making a pilgrimage to an obscure temple in the jungles of Kodagu. I tried them all, one per day. I used up the treasured orange honey I had brought from our trip to Meghalaya last summer, smearing it twice a day on my now blue-black face.

Yesterday, Vinay had come home again, on the way to his summer camp. As usual, he was improvising a motorbike with some used plastic bottles while his mother was cleaning the house. I chatted with him for some time about his summer camp, where they were rehearsing a play about Krishna's antics as a child. Finally I asked him the question which was uppermost in my mind. ‘Vinay, how does my face look now?’ Without even looking up, he said, ‘It looks blue-black, like Krishna’s.’

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