Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dark & Lovely - 3


To say that I am not color-conscious is to be a damned hypocrite.

When I turned about 5, I was made aware by sly comparisons that I was not as fair as my paternal cousins most of whom were fair and handsome. And that gave me an inferiority complex that persists. So were most of my half dozen siblings. To make matters worse, both my parents were fair and handsome...their kids had a recessive gene...our maternal uncles were what were called: chaamana chaaya (pale brown).

Then and there I decided that I would marry, if at all, a fair girl, cateris paribus, which I did. And luckily my son and his daughter turned out to be as fair as vanilla ice cream:

Ishani was born late one evening in Nellore. And my wife, myself, and my son were in Hyderabad at home waiting anxiously for the news of Ishani's safe arrival on this earth. And Ishani's auntie was our foreign correspondent staying onsite outside the surgery at Nellore and speaking to us minute by minute. And when the baby was ultimately brought out to be exhibited to the waiting relatives, her auntie broke us the news thus:

"It is a girl! Oh, she is as fair as Snow White!!! And her ample hair is jet black!!!"

In 1978, I was standing outside the labor room at Gudur waiting for the arrival of my sister's baby at 2, in pouring rain. When the news arrived that a boy was born, my mom went in and came out after ten minutes and said I could then go in and visit the mother and child. By when I went in, my sister (whose hubby was the fairest of all) was watching her new arrival lying beside her. And when she saw me, she instinctively looked at me and then at her son back and forth a couple of times. And I asked her:

"So you are worried if your son is as brown as his uncle instead of his dad!!!"

And she blushed and said:

"I wish he would get your brains instead of your brown"

Fat lot of a consolation that was for me. For the record, he turned out to be not as fair as his dad nor as dark as his uncle...some mixture there. And he is now a physician (instead of a physics teacher) in England. And when his son was born recently, his dad called me up and said:

"I wish my grandson would be as talented as you are!"

which made me conclude that the chap is not as dark as I am...

When I grew up to be a professor of physics a IIT KGP, I was sharing for two decades office with my colleague, DB, who was a shade darker than me but more talented. So we got on well enough till one day he returned from Calcutta and bragged that someone there compared his looks with Soumitra Chatterjee's:

That gave me a sudden pang of inferiority complex again after two decades. 

Luckily, however, that evening a student whom I gave a fantastic (though a wee undeserving) reco entered our office and announced that he got admission and TA into Chicago Univ, and gifted me a copy of Anurag Mathur's 'Inscrutable American'. And when I flipped it I discovered his scribble: 

"To Sir with Love"

And I showed it to DB and he was duly smitten with envy ;)


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