Monday, 27 October 2014

KARUTTAPPA.....

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Rumour has it that his wife saw him applying soot on their baby’s beautiful white face.

Karuttappa did not believe his mother. His father would never do such an unimaginable thing. Why would a father colour his 1 year old baby girl’s face with dirt? No, it was certainly a lie formulated by his hallucinating mother. The rumour spread like wildfire across the village but Karuttappa never believed his mother. She never truly loved her husband.

Karuttappa was as dark as the moonless night in which he was born. By the time he could walk, he was obese and certified his legitimacy by looking exactly like his dark skinned father.  He was a good child, kind, intelligent and ever so humble, just like his father. His mother was everything he was not. Fair, arrogant and aware of the impact her beauty left on anyone who crossed her way. She kept telling him that he and his father had skin the colour of processed tea that was made in the factory which his family ran. Karuttappa knew that his father would have never got such a catch had it not been an alliance brought by his rich aunt. Money bought everything, even women, the kid learnt early in life.  He was eight when he was gifted a baby sister, as fair as his mother.  Exactly a year later, his father became the hot topic as the man who coloured his fair skinned daughter, black.

Karuttappa always craved to be his mother’s first preference, who cooed over his sister. He was his father’s pet but that was mostly because his father was too embarrassed to be seen in public with the newly born. He always wondered why but never enquired much due to the fear of losing importance even in his father’s eyes. He and his father were dark. His mother made sure they both knew about it.

By the time he was 27, Karuttappa hated his own skin. His mother found a clueless fair skinned village girl and they were married in a fortnight. No courtship and no stolen kisses, but he did not have time to brood, for he was happy that he had married a beautiful girl. He loved her and she loved him back with the same fervid conviction.  While his mother visited him every month with fresh contempt for his dark skin and her constant fear that his children would resemble him, his wife loved him and his colour. Among these conflicting views by the two most important women in his life, he chose the one that he was used to.

Two years down the marriage lane, his wife declared that she was pregnant. Karuttappa rejoiced and the entire family was quick to come down with gifts for his carrying wife. While his father hugged him with teary eyes, his mother filled his ears with ways to make his child enter this world as a fair skinned baby.  Make your wife drink Saffron milk every day, she said. He believed every word she uttered.

His disinterested wife obliged to his antics. She gulped down saffron milk twice a day, since her husband did not want to take a chance by limiting it to one. She sat through the poojas that he conducted in their house, tolerating the Brahmins who did not comprehend a single mantra that came out of their trained mouth. She loved her husband and cursed her mother-in-law for making a beautiful man hate himself. She also believed that their baby must have been too tired of being subjected to so many complicated rituals that she decided to enter the world a month before schedule. A premature yet healthy, fair skinned daughter was born. Karuttappa wept as he kissed his newly born baby girl. The Gods had listened to him. His progeny would be spared of the embarrassment that his colour has brought upon him. His wife kept silent, amused by the display of emotions by her handsome husband.

The news of Karuttappa fathering a fair little girl became a topic that garnered much interest among the villagers. While the prudent section believed that the baby might have acquired the colour of her mother, the rest vouched that Karuttappa’s wife must have shared her bed with another fair skinned man which resulted in the birth of this beautiful little girl. The possible debauchery of his wife became a subject of heated discussion even in the Toddy shops and one night when Karuttappa decided to grab a few drinks, the drunkards decided to debate about the legitimacy of his daughter right in front of him. A brawl followed but died when Karuttappa fell on the ground and wailed. They were quick to leave the weeping man alone.

The next day, a fresh topic of debate was delivered to the villagers.

Rumour has it that his wife saw him applying soot on their baby’s beautiful white face.



P.S- I am back to Kochi after a much needed Diwali break. Went home for a week after almost a year and boy do I feel happy. :) 
P.P.S- Please read before you comment. I would be glad.  


129 comments:

  1. Intriguing :)



    Misha

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  2. :)

    Sensitive issue, said like it is. As I expect out of you.
    This questioning of legitimacy is a coward's way of being a coward. People shouldn't take it seriously.

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    1. Thank you so much my Peevee. People stoop down to all levels.

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  3. The world and its cruel ways of crippling people! I simply don't understand why people have to absolutely talk ill of others. Why can't it be the other way round? Sigh!

    Well-written!

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    1. Thank you so much. You said what was in my mind.

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  4. It is indeed true that people tend to remind dark skinned people of their complexion every now and then, and consistently let them down and make them feel inferior. It is often seen as a handicap even if that person is perfectly normal and fun to be with!
    This is a very intriguing story, and very close to reality for many people who face ridicule just for being dark skinned.

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    1. Thank you Aniitaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
      I find dark people very veyr sexy! :D

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  5. A very sensitive topic. I really dont understand our obsession towards fair skin. I also liked the way in which you have captured the village grapevine.

    Have a great time at home!!!

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    1. Exactly. Thank you so much!
      I am back from home :(

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  6. Hope you had a wonderful break Red!
    Your story well brought out how obsessed we still are with fair skin! Great write, had a folklore touch to it!

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  7. angrez chale gaye...fair and lovely chhod gaye types :/

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  8. Your stories are so engaging!!! I can't get enough. <3
    The world of black and white is so gray. Dunno when (or if) it will be removed of all the spite. Yay to Red!!!! ^^

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    1. You made my day with this comment!!!!! Thank you so much for reading.

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  9. that was such an amazing read. This fair and dark skin issue is deep rooted in our society and that is rather a tragedy. i loved the flow and the ebb of this story. Lovely!
    :)

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    1. Thankyou so much for reading . Means a ton!

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  10. The story is exaggerated but conveys the point effectively. Really, one can never shut people's mouth. They will continue to churn tales. What hurts most is when a loved one ridicules you just like his mother did and left him scarred for life. Well told! Congrats on the 150th post, Red.

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    1. Thank you so much Rachna. Exaggerated it indeed was :P

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  11. The sensitivity of the color issue we face these days fictionalized perfectly. And also 'log kya kahenge' disease compels people to do thinks they couldn't even think to do.

    Well penned post. Awesome!

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    1. Thank you you awesome awesome man :)

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  12. You are such an amazing story teller. I cant get my eyes off the screen till I finish reading the story...

    looking forward to read more :)

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    1. That was a generous comment and no I am not complaining. Thank you sooooooooooooo much for reading.

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  13. Oh! it is so true, Dark skinned people applying talcum powder to look fair and now the opposite. Such a sorry state but I understand the poor father's plight with a lifetime of brain washing!
    Sad but facts are facts.

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    1. My grand father was so dark and yet he applied fair and lovely till he died.
      Sad indeed.

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  14. The day we decide to care about what people have to say about our loved one's is the day we lose faith in what we love. So it's better to love than listen. I always enjoy what you post. Keep blogging and Cheers!!!

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    1. I am glad you liked what you read. Thank you
      !

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  15. Ohh my...this has touched so many issues beautifully...so painful. I am re reading it...I feel extremely sad for Karuttappa.

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    1. Thank you soooooooooooooooooo much!! Karuttappa was a victim of ugly upbringing.

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  16. A well narrated story Red , bearing a lot of resemblance to what one sees in reality! It is indeed a harsh world!

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    1. Very harsh indeed. Thank you so much!

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  17. S always...very well put! Congrats for the 150th :)

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  18. Ahh people will always find ways to comment on everything we do...and then ofcourse when it has to do with the fascination of fair skin it becomes a tad too much no?

    Glad you enjoyed the holiday...I've not been home for over a year and I feel so bad! sigh!

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    1. You havent been home for over a year? Damn..I so feel for you :(

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  19. You continue to impress Red Handed!! A tragic yet beautiful story!!

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  20. I read the whole story and smiled at your funny phrase "certified his legitimacy by looking exactly..."
    You write wonderfully well with readers' interest never sagging even a moment.

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    1. Coming from you.....it does mean a lot!! Humbled! Thank you!

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  21. Neatly written. And the name-cum-title is so apt. Our obsession with fair skin and our chronic need for societal recognition in anything and everything we do is a sad of state. Hope things change with time.

    PS: There's a movie called Karuththamma in Tamil that portrays the issue of female infanticide in rural India. You should check it out. Also the music is by Rahman, totally awesome. :-)

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    1. hehehe Karutta means the same in Tamil and malayalam I suppose.
      I shall watch the movie. :D
      Thanks for reading boss!!!!!

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  22. Wow.. with your narration and storyline, you really know how to hit the bull's eye. It's so sad that something as irrelevant as skin color can impact a person's life, their's confidence, their dreams... almost everything. And these gossiping people!! If only their was a Mantra to get rid of them.
    Brilliant way to express your views.

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    1. Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaankyou Rajlakshmi!!!! I never understood the obsession too!

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  23. This is so beautifully penned.
    It hurts me to see how society pays attention to colour rather than what's on the inside. And its not as if rural areas are the only ones suffering from this, even the urban areas are. The likes of Fair and Lovely shouldn't exist. People should be happy with the way they are. I blame society for discriminating on the basis of skin colour and causing people's confidence in self to dip, its just sad.

    x
    Hopelessly Hopeful
    http://welcometomypartypeople.blogspot.in/

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    1. Society moulds us into twisted human beings. I wish people were not so shallow.
      Thank you for reading love!

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  24. skin does matter when mind doesnt ... well narrated and so different.. you should go for publication Red.. you have it in you.. write more short stories <3

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    1. I love you and this comment made me ecstatic!

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  25. That was nicely written and explores a very sensitive topic. Loved the narration ! Its really crisp and impactful.Fair vs. dark is a prejudice so many people carry.

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    1. I am so glad you liiked what you read! :)

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  26. Very well written. As I kept on reading my eagerness to know what happens next went on increasing.

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  27. Beautifully written.. A touching story.. Indeed skin color,body,and physical appearances should never be a matter of concern... Its the mind and the heart :) good one!

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    1. Exactly the point!! I am happy you liked this one.

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  28. Never read a better story dealing with this issue :)
    and it is amazing that you didn't mention fair and lovely anywhere to mention your point! :O

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    1. hahahahahah now that was cute!! Thank you!

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  29. Oh my. So he ended up doing what he thought his father hadn't done? :( Talk about cruelty. I wonder if the biting words of society had affected Karuttappa's father too, and if he really had colored Karuttappa's sister with soot. When such words are heard, especially when drunk, sensibility goes out the window I guess.

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    1. Society affects all our actions....whether we know it or not.
      Sad state of affairs indeed!

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  30. It was an interesting read. Goes back to the beginning from the end to justify why Karuttapa's father was so. Well written. Am blog rolling you, hope you don't mind. (maqaam.blogspot.in)

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    1. Thank you so much and welcome to my humble blog.

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  31. How well you have conveyed such a major issue, Red! The story is crisp and clear , love it! :)

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  32. A social issue brought out perfectly well in your story ... brilliant ... surely our society needs to think a lot harder than just ponder over skin color.

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    1. Thanks Amrit. Society should elevate you and not pull you down!!

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  33. This is quite nicely written I must say

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  34. Fair skin can go to any extent. You said please read and then comment, but why no replies to the comments?

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    1. Thank you. No replies to the comments on the last post or two because I dont have internet at home and at office when I get time, I blog hop and write. I did not mean to appear mean by not replying. But just because I am unable to reply to comments does not mean I should waive off my right to honest comments. :)

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  35. Hats off Red! Many social issues in a single short story which made us think!!! Yes people are going behind a fair skin instead of a fair heart! I don't know whats the big deal in a skin color!!
    very well penned yaar!! you are blessed!

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    1. Now thank you so much for reading!!! Being fair is overrated....

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  36. Interesting take on the topic. Skin colour will always be an obsession for our society. And as you can see, it leads to other questions. Society always needs fuel to add to a burning fire.

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  37. Red Handed, a sensitive story narrated on society's prejudice and the craze for everything fair. Sad how we make the life of people hell.

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    1. Exactly. We make so many feel bad about themselves.

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  38. Wow wow wow! Loved this story! So so well narrated! Lovely stuff, Red. Think about writing an Anthology! :)

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    1. You must be kidding but I love you for saying so.

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  39. That was one well-written story! Loved the way you began and closed it. The obsession with skin color is this country knows no bounds and actually, we are a race who can obsess over the most trivial of things.

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    1. You said it. We are a race who can obsess over the most trivial of things. Thank you so much for reading.

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  40. The only time color should ever matter is when doing laundry.

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  41. Oh my god. That's an excellent story.
    I think, when we fall out of love for ourself, we mess it up.
    I don't know much about skin color though, but I've always believed that beauty comes in different shapes, sizes and colors. And more than anything, its in the eyes of the one who seeks beauty!
    :)
    Take Care!

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    1. You are a beautiful person to be thinking that way and seeing beauty in everything.
      Thank you so much for reading.

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  42. Very touching story....this thing about skin color really always amazes me...how much this concept is fed into our brains right from childhood...my daughter is a little dark brown color....She always would question me as a baby..."Amma...why are you light brown and why me and nanna(Dad) are dark brown?? " I would tell her actually I was like you when I was a baby now that am a grown up I turned light brown...she no longer believes this story now and no more starry eyes as she listens to me ...since she is almost 12 now....Somehow your story reminded me of mine....very very well written....

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    1. I hope your daughter always realizes how beautiful she is and I hope she is surrounded by people who tell her so too. :)

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  43. Agree with you on your reply to Anita.
    Dark people are sexy.
    But then we Indians has this general fixation of "want fair bride"

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    1. We are impossible! Thank you for reading!

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  44. sad .. one of the most prominent things why i hate the advisement of matrimonial ads .. ! as always you are worth reading :)

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    1. Now thank you Boss!! Worth reading is a big compliment.

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  45. Poignant. Dark is beautiful. Dark is lovely. When would Karuttappas learn their lesson? And to place mistrust on such a doting wife...too bad. Good one, Red!

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    1. A hurt mind and a broken self esteem can mistrust even the best thing there is in his life.
      Thank you !!

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  46. There are a lot of conclusions that can be drawn from this story- the distinction of dark and fair skinned, the imperfect parenting, the inferiority complex of the father, the suppressed characterization of Karuttappa etc- but I won't do that. For all the stories that I have read, penned by you, simplicity is one common denominator. So I will leave this uncomplicated that it's a wonderful story with simple characters and incredible art of story telling.

    P.S. the P.P.S. is funny! :D

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    1. Your comment sir is without a question, my favourite one. You made me feel happy and kind of proud. Thank you so much for such little joys.

      P.P.S is funny , I know :P

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  47. Ah! Being obsessed with something as trivial as the skin colour, could indeed affect people deeply. It hurts more when those around take it upon themselves to pass comments.

    Wonderfully written. :-)

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    1. Thank you for resonating my thoughts. :)
      Thank you for reading :D

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  48. whats happening to the comments which i m writing? they are vanishing somewhere??!!!!!

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  49. This Diwali my house help, a young girl said," DIdi, get me a tube of Fair and Lovely along with whatever you decide to give me for Diwali." I tried telling her that she was pretty and that she did not need the cream. I know she was not convinced. And then I see matrimonial ads that still harp about fair, beautiful girl. So Karuttappa did what he thought was right. We need to change the thought process.

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    1. Yes, we need to. My grandfather was a Karuttappa. H e applied fair and lovely till the day he died.

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  50. Nice story, not overtly long, with a great message. India has fixation with fair skin just as the west has with tanned skin. We apply Fair and Lovely they get tanning lotions ! Sometimes i think its all a big joke :)

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    1. It is indeed a big joke. Thank you so much for reading!

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  51. I don't understand why people judge on physical features! A moving story. I hated his mother though ( I know hating a fictional character is crazy)

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    1. hehehe I hated her too while writing it. Thanks!

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  52. Red! : ) You touched my heart with this : ) Brilliant stuff!

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  53. Where is my comment? I am devastated :(

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  54. uski beti ko kisi ki nazar na lage :-)

    Beautiful story!

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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  55. It's high time that these Karuttappan's change their attitudes over color.

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  56. What a lovely sad story that was. Well done!

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  57. Lovely narration, Red.
    wish skin-colour wasn't so important...

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  58. Oh sad.....The world's a treasure house of stupidity sometimes...
    Love your tale, Red.

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  59. You're quite the story-teller, Red.

    Winced as I read your story.

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    1. Coming from you, it seriously means a lot!

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  60. What an amazing post! You write so well 😀 I want to take you home! 😀

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  61. Great Post Red!! I have been following your blog from quite sometime and this is the first time I am commenting. You write so beautifully and I have fallen in love with your writing. I have a lot to learn from you. Do keep up the good work. :)

    Cheers
    Varsha

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    1. Your comment made me grin. Thank you so much and this comment means a lot to me.

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  62. When will fair skin not be considered superior? Not in our times ! Questioning the parentage is just the cheapest things that people do in jealousy. Brilliant write up red

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  63. A beautifully written story, and on a topic so pertinent to our country. I'm going to go & seek out your old stories now. :)

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  64. A very good topic, and unfortunately a big issue as well.

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  65. Brilliant narration. Unfortunately that is a harsh truth about what happens in our society- the skin bias, the gossip, how people want to show the other person down to attain that badge of superiority!

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Spit It Out I Say !!!