Gora

1 September 2013

Gora: A Hindi word that can mean both ‘white’ and ‘beauty’;
also used to denote the British during and after the Raj.


The daughters of India are burning
Because below the skin you see is the skin you want

The daughters of India are blistering
Because inside the brown onion nestles a pearl of great price

Aishwarya your green eyes, your coconut flesh
Michael Jackson your vitiligo

The daughters of India are itching
Because brillo pads are not designed for use on the forearms of children

The luminous faces of Brahmins bloom only in the shade
‘I dream about how to become white, how to look white and beautiful’

The daughters of India are developing cancers of the skin
Because $1.75 buys a tube of Kojic acid, hydroquinone, mercury

The rites of mortification shall deliver you to paradise
You must be this pale to ride

Guaranteed fairness, guaranteed fame
base blackness transmuted to gold, to moonstone

‘Seeking a slim bride of wheatish complexion’
A series of painless de-racialisation treatments

My Fair and LovelyTM ones, you shall shed teak, mahogany,
coffee and chocolate. You shall be stripped

of walnut, of honey, of toffee. You shall be scraped back
to wheat, pounded and bleached to flour

‘Dr Shailesh, the patches are darker now than when I started.’
(to the ignorant the cloth may appear invisible)

Oil baths every Friday. Chick pea flour paste on your five-year-old cheeks
Your father wishing kash hame ek beta hota wishing you had been a boy

No coffee, no tea, they will make you too dusky dear
You shall bathe in cucumber, in lemon and almonds

You shall eat of these also when pregnant to ensure
children white enough to pass

without harsh scratching
There is no evidence that whitening creams cause irreversible skin damage

apply in a gentle circular motion
purchase only from an accredited Hindustan Lever Ltd reseller

avoid direct exposure to sunlight
and instantly the tarnish is gone

Below that layer, another and another
When you reach the bone

you shall enter the heaven of bleached skeletons
Right now, tomorrow, in four to six weeks, you shall achieve

at last
satisfaction

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