Symphony of the Lost Hope
4.3.2005 was the day when I went to Kanyakumari to scatter the ashes of my sister.
All that I knew was anger. Everywhere I looked I felt her presence, every person I saw- I wished that they would die too. I was willing to sacrifice everyone, everything that I had just to have her back. But I was just one grieving teenage sister and it tore my heart into shreds to see that life had moved on... even without her. The world did not seem to care.
All I remember screaming in the halls of the the police station the day I got the message of her death was "MURDERERS! THEY KILLED MY SISTER!"
I remember having that lump in my throat and it didn't go away for a very long time.
I remember those tears that lined my eyes so long even after the news- it was so hard to move on.
It was a suicide, they say.
But never once, did they ask the reason.
It's a funny story that doesn't seem funny right now when my hands are shaking while I type those words, my face burns in pain and anger pulses in every vein of my body.
All I want you to do is go to the mirror and look at yourself. And then tell me- what do you see? Do you see your eyes? Your smile? Your flat nose? Your pretty hair? Or do you see the color of your skin?
We were a family of 4, born and bred in a complete south Indian culture with a drastic emphasis on intellect. We were happy as kids. We never thought of ourselves as outsiders, but things change.
I guess it never struck me how I my sister's behavior saw such a suicidal drift. She constantly joked to my mother and me how we both were so fair.. how life was much more easier for us owing to our skin color... how boys liked fair girls more than the dark ones.
It was so peculiar.
She was a human with so many internal paradoxes and conflicts within her, that it made it impossible for anyone but me, to understand her. She would have hundreds of certificates of academic and co-curricular excellence yet, worry about her skin color. She would be someone who had shook hands with the Prime Minister of India, yet in a state of depression- hate her appearance and existence.
My parents never made a big deal out of it. As far as they were concerned, these were stupid matters that needed to be paid no attention, and I probably responded in the same manner too.
But I guess I realized the intensity of her insecurity when they put her diary into my hands as I saw her in the morgue- cold and lifeless. I wished she would get up and smile at me with her secretive pain- filled eyes.
I just wished she would wake up. And it was the silent wish of a broken 15 year old.
At 10, I could never comprehend the big deal that my 15-year old sister made out of fair skinned people. I never realized that the long days that she spent closed inside her room- she was dabbing huge chunks of Fair And Lovely and Garnier Light Skin everyday on her face.
I could never figure out why she hated taking family photos until I read in her diary that she didn't want to pose as an ugly blot on our beautiful paradise.
I do not want you to judge my sister. She was a beautiful human being. She gave away so much, she loved to see her friends laugh, she sacrificed everything to let me take the spotlight.
She loved me so much, that right now, while I cry silent tears and my whole face crumples in inconsolable pain, I long for a minute, just one minute in my life when I could tell her that I loved her too. A minute where I would've peeled off every layer of my skin and offered it to her if it made her happy.
A minute when I could've finally gotten the chance to say that she was the most beautiful person in the world for me.
I long for that minute when she had called me 10 minutes before she took her life in a last minute bid to find a reason to live. But I was too busy, too busy on an outing with friends to realize just how much that call that I had cut cost me.
I still call her cellphone, everyday.
And it rings, rings in my drawer. And I call it. Again and again,with a silent hope that she picks it up...forgives me.
At 18, when my sister left Delhi to go attend college in my hometown, I remember her joking that life would be much easier now that she was going to be amongst people with equal insecurities.Same grudges against the Destiny for bestowing them with a dark skin.By that time, I was probably too sick and disgustedly wary of her racial insecurities to even bother responding. She saw my blank look.
I know she did.
And for the next three years all I remember distinctly are her sudden calls of uncontrollable torrential tears about how a couple of rowdy classmates made racial slurs at her everyday.
I would counsel her for hours...desperately try to explain it to her that this wasn't something that mattered- a fact that my entire family had been telling her since years...and something that she already knew. But there is just something that prevents you from being wise in all your wisdom- for my sister it was her skin, for you probably it is someone else's success.
I do not want you to judge her. Lack of character, you'd say. But I'd tell you the strong held morals that she followed in fierce resolution everyday of her life.
I do not want you to laugh, or mock her- because then you'd be cruel.A cruel human.
What you do not realize, is that a small vain obsession at her end had to be aggravated to such a situation because of those small racial slurs that you didn't care about as you let it slide out of your mouth. They never could bear to see the intelligent daughter of a rich household succeeding.
I do not know what happened that day, because my sister never survived long enough to write an account of it in her diary, but all I know is that a snide, 5-minute long conversation between a group of resentful, spiteful men ad my sister was all it took to change my entire family's life.
Living in India I'm still aware of how people perceive skin colors, I know the outrageous behavior that some portray in all their racism, I know that in a matrimonial ad, they would always seek a "fair-skinned bride." , I know that a boss can promote someone over the other simply because of racial preference.
And I do not blame anyone.
My sister never lived long enough to fight it, she always joked how I was more of a fighter than she ever was. But I lost, I lost the day she decided to hang herself in her hostel room. I lost the day my father succumbed to a heart attack a week later.
I lost the day both my parents rotted in misery for being blind to the one insecurity that my sister always had.
As for me, I am a loser, because I cannot forgive myself, the world. I cannot get over the pain.
And I cannot forgive my country for bearing such cruel, repulsive, racist human beings who tormented a fragile young innocent 20 year old to her death.
I blame no one for my death but misery and unforgiven pain.