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.