Saturday, October 18, 2008

2nd Draft: MY DARK PAST

My dark past

My childhood was the thing that I did not want to remember the most. It brought more pain than pleasure to me. These deep cuts and bruises, I wondered when they will heal. Unpleasant past memories that inflicted on our family were still haunting us. Poor my sisters, they were the ones who were affected the most.

For 23 years our family had lived with the idea that people with dark complexion were considered ugly and should be avoided. All these years we were suffering, it was all because of our grandparents, especially my grandmother. She was my mother’s maternal mother. She was the queen control, the dictator of the whole family. She decided what would be the best for her children. She even surpassed the limit; she wanted to take control of her grandchildren as well. My grand father was slightly nicer than her. Still, he had once discriminated us.

How did all the sufferings happen? The vital mistake came when we were born. My father has dark complexion compared to my mother who has fairer skin complexion. As a result some of us were born with dark complexion. My brothers all have fair skin complexion compared to the girls who have dark skin complexion. It was something that my grandparents did not like because they were expecting their grandchildren to have skin as fair as snow and very cute to their eyes. Being born to this world with such physical condition was a sin to us. I kept on questioning myself, why should my grandparents allow their marriage if they did not like my father right from the beginning? Then, we would have never suffered like this.

As a result of having dark complexion, we were treated differently. The treatment had never and would never change towards us. I still remembered when we returned for Raya we were always asked to put our staff at one corner of the house. At night, we would sleep in the living room. My sister and I used to sleep with our aunts. That was because they were still not married. But later on, when they had married I could feel the gap between us. The obvious discrimination came when our cousins were born. My grandmother would always praise them and gave them all the needs that they needed. On contrary, we were expected to serve them. Compared to our cousins, if we did not help to cook we would be scolded. We were not even allowed to touch expensive things. Our drinks were only cups and plates made of plastic. During Raya morning, our relatives would enjoy the Raya dish first. We would have them later. Some of us even did not eat at all because the food was not enough for us. Adding to the wound in my heart, some of our cousins saw us as sore to their sights. They would say “hitam melegam” (as dark as charcoal) to me as I had the darkest skin complexion compared to my other sisters.

The most unforgettable thing was when my mother revealed a very hurtful secret to us. When she was with the second child, which was my sister, my grandparents had scolded my mother for being pregnant again. She was showered with insulting words and threats. Not every second of the day she did not cry. They despised having family members who had dark complexion. One afternoon, thinking that my father had slept my great grandmother said to her quietly, “Jangan dok beranak banyak-banyak dah. Nanti dapat anak semua hitam macam pungkuq belanga, ”(don’t give birth anymore or they will all ended up having skin as dark as the back of the pan). My father overheard that. Those venomous words were like arrows that struck his heart. Until now he still remembered that. Afraid of getting insults and warnings from my grandparents, she would hide her pregnancy from them. She would try to make her appearance look as normal as usual. There was even one time my grandmother said that my younger sister was annoyance to her when she wanted to make calls. My mother’s heart shattered into pieces. Until now she always brings up the point why should she be treated meanly when she was pregnant whereas her sisters were treated nicely when they gave birth to many children.

Having the idea that fair complexion people were beautiful but dark people were ugly made us think that we were the ugliest human being on earth. It had been a burden that we had carried till we grew older. With this idea, my mind could only see our existence was not less than a slave for other people. We deserved to be bullied and to be insulted. This thought had wiped off our belief to stand taller, to have the belief that we were like other people too, deserve to have dreams and special in different aspects. In my secondary school time, I dared not be-friend with fair complexion people except the ones that I trusted and comfortable with. I dared not speak to guys as I always thought that they would be disgusted by the gloominess of my skin colour. I learned to judge people nothing but their appearance. Getting married seemed ridiculous and unfulfilled dreams to me and I even had fantasized to become beautiful as the white people. I despised taking pictures with my friends as I would appear to be ‘a piece of shit’ among the pretty flowers.

The society around us had never been helpful to us. As ex-neighbours, they were just like my grandparents; judging people based on physical appearance. Although they never mentioned that they looked down on us, but I could see that from their look. They had the eyes that sparked sense of discrimination and domination. They always praised their daughters as they were much beautiful than us. Each mistake that we did was vital that they will scold us continuously when we were child.

Luckily I have Islam as my faith. I always stick to Rasulullah’s sayings, “be obedient to your leader, even though he is a Bedouin.” As my knowledge has deepened, I learned that Rasulullah had many friends who had dark skin complexion like Bilal bin Rabah. He was even darker than me and yet he had one of the highest positions in Islam. Islam teaches us that we are not judged based on our physical appearance but the purity of our heart, akhlak, and our good deeds. The chance of furthering my study in this teacher training college was the most blissful gift to my entire life. I learned that I was special and had my own strengths. As I have mentioned before, my sisters were the one to be affected. My elder sister was beauty conscious. She would always buy whitening products and beauty products as she wanted to look best in other people’s eyes. If my face became tanner (darker of course) she would always ask me to immediately wear whitening products. Until now, my younger sister would never have confidence in herself. She would always see herself ugly the way I had seen myself before. Right now I am helping her to gain more confidence and hopefully he would be able to do so.

Today, my grandmother has treated us better than in the past. Still she discriminated us but I did not mind about that. This invisible pain would still remain in my heart, it will never cure but I am still overcoming it with positive thinking. Thanks to God, my parents and friends who are always there for me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

1st draft: My dark past

My childhood time was the thing that I cannot erase from my box of mind. The dark memories that hold me until now have given me such deep impacts not only to me but to my family. They even change the way my siblings and I perceive on things. The most affected one of course would be my sister. How did it start? To start, it is all because of skin colour issue that makes us feel like we were alien among our other relatives. For many years each of us, especially I would think that dark-complexion people are ugly compared to the fair-complexion people. My father has dark complexion and my mother is on the contrary. Their marriage was done in a rush I would say. This is because they just got married before they even had the time to get to know each other. Our siblings have different skin complexion. Even my younger brothers do not resemble me at all. All my brothers have fairer skin complexion compared to the sisters including me. At that time we were told that girls were supposed to have fair skin and guys are not related with it. Who imposed such idea? It was my grandmother (my mother’s mother) who discriminated us all the time. At first I did not notice that she had treated us differently but as I grew up older I realize the obvious discrimination that my grandparents have imposed on us.

I remembered back then when I was still a kid I would always be scolded if I touched expensive things. Even my cousins would look disgusted at us when we played with them. When we went back for Raya time, we will not be given a special room to stay. We just put our bags and clothes at one corner of the house. At night, we would sleep at the living room. All the comforts were given the priority to our other relatives. Until now we experience the same thing over and over again. Back then all my aunts and uncles were not married yet so we had strong bond with them. However when I grew up older I realized the different gap that have been created especially when they have married and have their own children. I realized the treatment that my cousins received were totally different compared to the treatment she gave to us when we were still kids. She treated them nicely and would always praised them compared us who always got lots of scolding.

The idea that people with darker complexion are ugly people and fair –complexion people are the most beautiful had made our esteem low. I started to experience this when I was in secondary school. I dared not mixed around with people who have fair complexion except a few whom I considered friendly and can be trusted. I never talked to guys as I felt that I was the most hideous person on earth. Even when I returned for Raya, my little cousins would say that “hitam melegam” (very dark skin complexion like charcoal) to us especially I because I have the darkest skin complexion among all my other siblings. Another impact that it gave to me was I never believed in my own abilities and talent. I never believed that any guy would want to marry me because I was very ugly.

This thing did not only happen to me but to my father as well. My mother revealed to us surprising secret that we have never known until we have grown older. She said that when she was pregnant with the second child which was my sister, she was not only got scolded but also being insulted rapidly from my grandparents and our great grandparents. They did not want any more children as they thought that their grandchildren will turn out to have dark-complexion just like the father. As a result, my mother would keep a secret when she was pregnant. My father was the toughest person of all despite of his skin complexion. Once, when he was lying on the mat, my great grandparent said something hurtful and totally heart-breaking to my mother. Thinking that he was sleeping, she said to my mother with thick Kedah slang, “jangan beranak banyak-banyak. Nanti semua dapat anak hitam macam pungkuq belanga.” (don’t give birth to many children or else they will turn out to have charcoal-colour skin complexion.” He was hurtful at that time and still could not forget what she had said to him. My father was the most hurtful person at that moment. Yet, he was the one who my grandparents relied the most when they had difficult times. Not only that, my mother also told me that our grandmother told us that we were annoying when we cried when we were babies. When we knew about this thing, I have a disrespectful thought of my grandmother. I felt so as when my aunts gave birth to new children, my grandmother will praise them a lot and gave them toys and food compared to us who received nothing only scolding.

Our grandparents were not the only one who has this skin colour issues idea. Our ex-neighbours as well thought the same way. They would be proud of their daughters’ fair skin complexion and will always say that we have dark skin complexion. My mother was really stressful not by only my grandparents but also by them. For these past few years we were haunted by this thought which never dies in our minds. Luckily I registered for this TEYL course, I learned people are different and special. I learned to develop more self-esteem. My sister until now is beauty conscious. She would buy lots of skin whitening product so that she can have fairer skin complexion. She would scold me for not trying to use this product so that I can look fairer. However I just ignored what she said as I have learned that physical appearance is not the most important thing that people should look at but the attitude and personality is the most important thing that should be counted. My sister is still facing the same thing that I have experienced back then when I was in secondary school. I am still helping her to diminish this idea so that she would build her self esteem little by little. As for my grandmother, I could do nothing for her as her mind set has been set up that way right from the start. What ever treatment she gave, I will never be affected again.