Once upon a time, in a country not so far away, in a country called India, and a village called – let’s just say it was like any other village – in a family that was like yours and mine, a little boy and then a little girl was born.
They named the boy Mr Blue and the girl Miss Pink.
They were treated quite differently, as two colors should be. After all, theirs was a world defined in shades of blue and pink. One was served and the other’s job was to serve. The blue demanded and the pink met the demands. No other color was welcome in this village.
Blue was to be considered omniscient, a king in his little kingdom called home even though the subject was only a shade of pink he possessed; and pink had to be a maid even though her shade of blue was a real king and she a queen.
Each house had little boys raised to be shades of blue and little girls to be shades of pink. Until they came of age, little Miss Pink had to serve her own family, and then she had to be delivered in a shade of blue she had never encountered. She had to give up her name, her family, her home and start a new life in a new place with strangers who were to be her new family.
In this world, every shade of pink was a burden, and every shade of blue a joy; she honor the family, he the pride of the family; it must be given, him to continue the inheritance; it must be given to a man, him to bring a bride home.
She had to sacrifice herself for the family; adapt; to adapt and endure the pain of childbirth to offer her sons. He had to provide for the needs of the family; to be his protector; her master and protect her from the world by creating rules for her, a Lakshman Rekha – the line she dares not cross.
Life took its course, and as fate intended, they fulfilled the roles that the colors blue and pink demanded.
She forgot who she really was and her new identity became her lack of identity. She dissolved into the new shade of blue that was her own.
It wasn’t long before she too realized that wearing pink was a bad omen, her fault, and wearing blue was a path to salvation. If she gave birth to a girl, her head would tilt in shame as all fingers pointed to her for betraying her master. She begged the goddesses to bless her with blue; walked barefoot to the temples; ate and drank potions from the village doctor; copulated when asked to do so and convinced her master to stay away from her when asked not to, with the promise of giving her sons so that theirs would be an inheritance colored blue .
Soon she forgot that she was a heavenly being and considered herself a burden as her mother had taught her. That she was weak, had no identity, no self, her description only with a prefix of Mrs. or as the mother of her sons. His death without consequence, his replacements are easily found.
No matter how gray the blue was, he always found a young shade of pink to replace the pink he had lost. A new rose, at her service, lucky to have her name as an identity, ready for pain to wear it bluer.
But if the rose lost the hand she had to hold tight, the shadow of her bruise, then her head was shaved, she was forced to wear white and sent back to live a life of death. No matter how far the rose was in bloom, once it lost its blue, its sky was colored black. She couldn’t belong to any other shade of blue, after all, she was unlucky, her association was the reason blue fell.
This story began once upon a time, at an earlier time and is not yet dead. This story is not a story at all. It’s the air I breathe, the water you drink, the colors that surround us. This is unfortunately the reality.
But I have a story, that which takes place in an unknown country, unknown and fortunately for its inhabitants, inaccessible.
Once upon a time in the land, many light years from us, on a planet called – well, humans were not yet aware of this magical world, so it had escaped the naming ceremony that we humans cherish so dear. On this planet, there was life, a being far superior to humans. They may not have discovered the wonders of technology and medical breakthroughs to look through their bodies. But they had kept the magic of harmony, peace and love intact.
Their world was of compassion and love for their fellow men. In their homes there was warmth for souls and passion for their dreams. They recognized the power of being simply. They were creatures of joy, full beings; live a busy life. In one of these houses on this beautiful planet were born two beings. They were different from each other, his energy was like Yin and the other’s like Yang. One was a unique shade of purple and the other was a unique shade of yellow.
And then there were other houses with other little beings with different shades of colors making up a rainbow. They grew up together, they played together, cooked together and made their choices together. They freely chose their companions regardless of race and religion because they did not have any. They each made their unique rainbows lighting the sky with the energy of a thousand suns, yet not burning anyone. Each shade of being, unique in its magic, each color free to fly in its own sky.
This is the world I would trade for mine at any time. But I can not. Because I also have shades of pink in me. I caught the contagion of being pink as an inheritance. I challenged him, stomped on my feet, threw temper tantrums and yet those shades of pink took hold of my heart. If I had to go to this magical world, I would infect them too. And so I’m forever locked in the pink I didn’t ask for.
My patriarchs won, they woven me into the invisible fabric of patriarchy and gender. There is hope, however, not for me but for the being who came through me. I call her ‘she’ because I’m a shade of pink and I don’t know better, but she’s a shade of orange, she’s my transformation. Maybe she can belong to the magical planet which is not bound by blue and pink. She might have her own sky. Maybe she will build this world with her imagination and her merit. Maybe I’ll live through it. Maybe I’ll get a shade of orange in her too.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.