Photo by Juri Gianfrancesco on Unsplash

Fair and Lovely

Every morning I unscrew the

pink and white tube

my grandmother stuffed inside

my suitcase as I left her home in Delhi.

Her words still ringing inside my ears,

“don’t forget to use your Fair & Lovely!

A girl of your age must take care of herself.”

Every morning I press the tube,

gently squeezing enough cream

To cover all the darkness

my sun scorched Indian skin.

“Don’t forget your neck and your ears!”

my mother yells

as she passes by my bedroom door.

Every morning I wear

the bleaching chemicals

on my waning skin,

itching, then burning

“this is how it works”

my sister says

slathering layers on her own face.

Every morning I look at the tube

and then at my skin

The dirty brown reflection

Muddied with a grayish tint

No longer brown and

Not nearly white

Never Fair & Lovely.