19/100: Brown. The colour of glorious earth; the colour of luscious cocoa; the colour of my Dravidian skin; the colour of a scar. Not an easy colour to accept into one’s wardrobe for it’s quite difficult to match. I was always fond of it, though. This saree was a gift from my mom, who was always intrigued by my partiality to brown!

I grew up in a part of this country where fairness creams sell the most; where you are constantly compared to fairer cousins and friends; where being tanned will not get you in the Pirelli Calendar if it were made there. I was always warned by my grandmother that I’d turn dark and no one would even look at me, leave alone marry. But, I love the sun, the heat, the sweat and the burnt sienna that your skin turns in just a few minutes. No need for bronzers or airbrushing!

When I was around 8, I broke out into boils all over my body, because of a chlorine reaction as a result of spending long hours in the swimming pool in the summer heat. All you could see in my face were the white of my eyes. My grandmother, who treated me entirely–she would apply a carefully prepared paste of sandalwood and conch shell– was convinced that her prediction would come true! Although I healed completely, my already brown skin was now peppered with scars. I still have many of them. It didn’t stop there. I have fallen down, grazed my knees and elbows a hundred times and each scrape has left behind its mark. Teenage happened and acne loved my company. More and more scars! I have wished I could tear away my face like Jim Carrey in The Mask and get a new one. And then scars from childbirth and surgeries. The list is endless. I did try to get rid of them, but they wouldn’t go away completely, as if to remind me of something. Now when I see those scars, I am reminded of the excruciating pain I have gone through but along with it comes the affirmation that it will be alright in the end. The brown scars are indeed a testimony to my strength. Little wonder then that according to colour psychology, brown signifies a feeling of wholesomeness, it stabilizes and gives a sense orderliness.