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maillustration final

My Ma is dusky. And if you’re Asian you know we really hate that shit. If you are light skinned, you’re beautiful. If not, tough luck.

My grandparents were very middle class, hard working people who gave their daughter a certain sensibility about life, but not too many fancy things. So she never ever wore any makeup other than a little kohl in her eyes and much later in life, when she gave up the kohl, some lipstick.

But, defying all that is traditionally beautiful, Ma was considered by many as having a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. May be it was the thick black hair, or the dreamy eyes, or the beautiful singing voice, or the fact that she writes poetry. I don’t know.


This picture of her, which has recently surfaced on the Internet thanks to someone from my extended family posting a lot of old photos, was taken at my grandparents’ home, in the late 70s. The photograph was used to find her a match in an arranged marriage. After seeing this photo, a very rich man came to see her for his son. He had assumed from the photo that she was very fancy and stylish, and perhaps from a higher economic status than she was in reality.

He later said no to the arrangement, because, “kalo”. As in, dark-skinned.

Well, thank god, because that’s why I have my Baba :))