In early 2011, a friend saw Barack Obama’s phone number on a mutual friend’s phone. At school, another peer called me Akon. I am a unique case. I was born super dark but grew up to become wheatish. It happened when I moved to Patna at age 15 to live with my grandmother. People believe that something is in the air of Patna. Today, I am not considered untouchably dark, but those early experiences deeply inform my worldview.
Growing up, I had the regular dark skin childhood. At school, teachers held negative opinion of me. Some were surprised to learn that I was the number one in my class. Some went as far as to tell me it would not happen again. Too bad it always did. At home, I experienced the same teasing and mocking that dark-skinned Indians do. Towards the end of high school, outrageous experiences became less frequent as my skin tone started to lighten up. Here are two of my last bad experiences for reference. In the finals of grade 11, I was the only student in my exam room whose pockets were checked. I was probably the only student who was not cheating. During an exam in grade 12, the invigilator criticized my appearance and called me ugly while I was writing my exam. Afterwords, she asked about my family background. When I told her my father was a doctor -- I did not come from a family of thieves-- her attitude changed.