….it’s the first time in my life, I felt like the world was mine and that everything that was ever said to be about my own beauty…didn’t matter.”
“I come from a Jatt family, who believes that getting married to a boy in the U.S, means a girl is ‘well settled’. I was always the ‘dark’ sheep of the family. The reason I say that is because all my cousins were fair and I was teased for being dusky. I was trained to take care of my skin when I’d play outside. Who’d marry me otherwise?
At 18, my father insisted on getting me married to his friend’s son in Canada. He said I could continue my education there. I walked out and stayed the night at my friend’s. The next day, my father and I had a big showdown! I told him if he wanted me to go abroad I’d go on my own, not as someone’s wife!
After college, I decided to get a job in Gurgaon. I wanted to study further, but my father told me we couldn’t afford it. I had always wanted to become an air hostess and travel the world. I even had a map in my room to check off all the places I’d visit. I’d look up at the planes and wonder what life up there was like. Then I brushed off the idea because I knew that only ‘beautiful’ women become air hostesses.
My family had been financially struggling so I took the first job I got to ‘prove my worth’. After a few months, my mother called. She told me she had filled a form for me for the position of an air hostess! She remembered I’d bring back brochures from college. It was time I gave what I really wanted a shot.
But I thought ‘who would make me an air hostess?’ I felt insecure, so I gave the interview without telling my mother. I messed it up! I said the capital of Germany was Frankfurt, with so much confidence! After a few weeks, my father called to tell me that an offer letter had come for me. I had never been in an airplane before and the first time I was going to step in one was as a crew member!’
My relatives were so surprised! One even said while they saw me packing, ‘Ise kisne air hostess banaya?’ (Who made her an air hostess?)But when I left for Germany, my outlook of our Indian, dusky skin changed. A first officer complimented me every day and a passenger even asked if I would marry his son! On the job, I realised that beauty did reside in the eye of the beholder. In this case, the only eye that mattered was my own.
I became confident in my skin….after years. But the best payoff was when I first took my father for a trip to the U.S. While packing, my father had tears in his eyes. He told my mother that ‘4 months ago, she’d promised me she’d make it on her own. And today, she’s showing me the world’ — I think it’s the first time in my life, I felt like the world was mine and that everything that was ever said to be about my own beauty…didn’t matter.”
Story and Photo Courtesy: Humans of Bombay