She said I probably don’t use soap
which is why my skin is so dirty,
Why can’t I just wash my genes clean,
wear my face, arms, back, legs
in the shade like forsha girls.
I learned to hate the sun at a young age,
and my skin long before then.
No amount of scrubbing and bleach
could fade this dirt, this hurt,
would scrub my hands until hot water
scalded and fingers turned red
if i could sunburn,
and not turn brown instead.
I discerned confusion.
But you live in America, you should be white!
Sorry to disappoint.
That my straight A’s don’t stand for “Anglophile”
and I don’t fit your fair-complexioned profile.
California sunkissed skin
translates to it’ll be harder for you to find a man.
There was an uncle whom I had never met,
What was he like? I asked.
Not dark like he was broody, or found morbid humor amusing.
Not even tall, dark, and handsome
because that word doesn’t belong with the others—dark.
They say dark chocolate’s an acquired taste.
How long will it be before my bitter flesh
Then one day,
You look lighter than before!
and so I’m loved a little more.
The dark shadow crossing my dark eyes,
pales next to a paled cheek.
I can’t remember the color of my skin.
It grows dim, brown paper bag,
for you to wash me with color
or wash me clean.
Bleaches and creams,
I tried them all,
not eight years old,
but old enough to hate
this shamla chamra, ki nongra.
In my land of brown bodies,
I must be fair of skin to be lovely.
© Farhana J.
Farhana was born in Bangladesh and immigrated to the US as an infant. She grew up in California, living life on the hyphen. “Brown” was inspired by personal experiences of being a not-so-fair-and-lovely Bangladeshi girl. You can find more of her poetry at http://faeriehana.blogspot.com/
Submitted by Farhana