Must I Consider Face Surgery?

This story had found a deep, dark hole for years but with the world around us in an unprecedented maelstrom, it resurfaced. Below are lines from a song in the works.

“Has the wind changed its course?

Gained a ghastly force?”

My wife and I are from India and belong to the same faith. During our three and a half years of courtship, I lived in India and she in Philadelphia. Yes, we dated virtually! While our immediate families knew of us right from the start, those in the ‘extended’ category were apprised a year prior to our wedding.

Most of my wife’s extended family have lived only in their little town in India and hence they had a set of peculiar boxes that had to be checked concerning the bridegroom. My wife’s complexion is several notches lighter than mine and so, the color of my skin became a topic of conversation. Questions like “Doesn’t she deserve better?” began to float around. In fact, while I was a teenager, my extended family asked my parents many a time if they were doing something about my complexion. Perhaps, a fairness cream? Similar to the trauma I experienced when going bald.

This was heart-wrenching; a kind of ostracization from folks whom I considered and will consider family. What is interesting is that some of the folks who criticized my complexion were far from being light-skinned. Talk about hypocrisy.

While this drama was unfolding, I asked myself many questions like

  • If I were of lighter complexion but not educated, would these folks be content?
  • If I were of lighter complexion but not a decent human being, would it be acceptable?
  • Must I consider a face surgery?

What mattered the most to these family members was what met their eyes. A fair-skinned man with a head full of hair.

Believe it or not, such warped thinking still exists. What is our world evolving into? What are we becoming?

Anatomy 101 tells us that every human has a heart. Does having a heart make us human beings? In my perspective, no. It’s what our hearts are filled with. Scripture says “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” I also believe that “For out of the abundance of the heart, the body acts.”

Most of the brutality and heinous acts that we see around us are a result of malfunctioning hearts. Hearts that don’t have the right composition. A composition not rooted in kindness, love, empathy, and so on.

While a change in policies/law is a must, a cleansing of the hearts is the need of the hour. An opening of the inner eyes. A conscious decision to accept every human being by setting aside differences and embracing similarities.

Needless to say, everyone will have a perspective on a given subject. This is what makes us diverse, giving us opportunities to grow. This must not be mistaken for segregating people based on the color of their skin, race, religion, etc.

The key to the future of humanKIND is in the word itself.


Ranjith Abraham
Ranjith Abraham
Ranjith Abraham is a pharmaceutical professional focussed on patient safety through accurate labeling. He is also the songwriter/piano player for Miles Apart, a global musical endeavor that enables friends around the globe to collaborate and create music virtually. He believes in storytelling and in the mantra that no matter how trivial our offerings are, we must allow the recipients to define their worth. Though challenging, Ranjith is grateful for the opportunity to parent his son and daughter. Born and raised in India, he now lives with his wife and kids in Philadelphia. Ranjith draws inspiration to write from life lessons that are tucked away in the insignificant happenings around him. His passion for music/photography fuels creativity and helps him genuinely connect with people. A firm believer of the equation ‘Leadership = Servanthood’, Ranjith’s vision is to positively influence people so they can impact their world through timely and meaningful contributions.

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  1. Dear Ranjith, this was definitely a MUST-READ piece, and I’m so thrilled I had the #priviledge and #honor to be part of your #authentic and #humble world while reading every line with a peaceful smile drawn on my face and lots of overwhelming feelings.

    I think that, sometimes it can be a matter of #conditioning and many #limiting #beliefs deeply implanted in our #subconscious #program without we even being aware of it. The problem here is that this is done on #autopilot, and despite the huge contradiction between those #judgements & #stigmatisation on one side and our kind heart on the other, we are unfortunately blinded to the impact of our #unconscious behavior…

    Some other times though, and with a frequency much higher than I would I ever imagined, there is no #goodness in the heart; there is an almost disconnection from our #conscience and there is very CONSCIOUS #abuse. I’ve been exploring this critical topic lately and it’s really something I care so much about 💙

    Thanks again for this insightful anf moving essay!

    • Myriam, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. ‘Autopilot’ is right.

      I also believe that what we are exposed to as kids become ingrained in us.

      The other day, I was out on a bike ride with my son and overheard this conversation between 2 young girls of different ethnicities.
      Girl 1: I am going to take sewing lessons.
      Girl 2: What is that?
      Girl 1: You know, with thread and needles.
      Girl 2: Oh. We call it ‘sooing’.

      If the young ones keep hearing from an early age that a certain skin complexion equals superiority or more beautiful, we’ve already set them up for failure. We’ve jeopardized our future. I believe there is a need now, more than ever to instill in our younger generation a deep understanding of what it means to be human.

  2. Wow… thank you for sharing this story, Ranjith. It pains me to see how much shallow thinking about our fellow human beings still abounds. So many judge all the wrong qualities.

    I had a conversation the other day with someone about the racial injustices with the police. Her comment was, “I’m not at all racist. My son is friends with a black boy and he has been to the house many times. I don’t see his color at all.” Isn’t that the essence of racism? Would she say she doesn’t see color when talking about a white person? We have much work to do? Your words here are a great way to keep the conversation going. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank goodness you didn’t get face surgery Ranjith! You are perfect the way you are and your wife knew that. While I do agree that there are many folks out there that need a cleansing of the heart, I also think their brains are involved. We all must realize that we hold certain biases. Accept that we are flawed and imperfect. And try to learn a new way. A mix of the mind and the heart.

    I grew up with an openly racist father. It was a very difficult thing to witness. But feeling uncomfortable around him and the words he regularly said, proved to me something was wrong. I never jumped on his band wagon, but I did learn not to cross him. Just ignore it and move on. Our generation and the generation of our children can learn a new way. We can have these conversations and share our feelings. Something that wasn’t always available to ones before us.

    Generalizing groups of people can be proven wrong when we can have open conversation with individuals. Again, not something that was always available to previous generations depending on where they lived. Now’s the time!

    • JoAnna, thank you for taking the time to read, comment, and share your story. I agree that today we have more opportunities for safe and open communications. It just needs to happen.

  4. Thank you so much for this eloquently written from the heart essay, Ranjith. I’m with you 200 percent that it’s time to cultivate the contents of our hearts-of our inner character and fill ourselves with compassion, empathy, love, mercy, and radiate this out into the world through our words and deeds. When we feel safe to speak from the heart of compassion, from our heartbreaking grief, we can find common ground with all human beings. I’m grateful for the wisdom you’ve offered here, for sharing your lived experience of being judged for the complexion of your skin and how this sparked those inner questions in your heart and mind.

    • Laura, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It was a rough ride but I’m grateful how it strengthened me and shaped my heart. Irrespective of our differences, as you aptly pointed out, finding common ground with others must become a priority.

  5. Thanks, Ranjith.

    One of the impacts of the pandemic is that my circle of friends has greatly expanded, no longer bound by geography. I’ve had some very enlightening conversations with new acquaintances from India about skin color and all the products available for achieving, to quote Procol Harum, a whiter shade a pale.
    I’m working on “Character over Category” right now (What I am is coincidence. Who I am is a choice.) Bringing these retained biases out into the light of conversation is a good start for all of us.

    Like you, I’m bound by my attitudes, many of which (if not most) I was never invited to choose. Let’s forgive ourselves for the tentacles of ingrained attitudes and start to unwrap them and set them aside.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

    • Ranjith,
      Thank you for sharing this story and for opening the door to your heart. It is what is inside that matters but sadly, we live in a judgemental world. You have the right attitude and perspective about it’s the heart that matters – and what we say and do comes from there. Or it should anyway. I don’t know when we got so lost, but I do hope we can find our way again. It starts with each of us. While we may not always agree and opinions may be as vast as the ocean, we can respect, listen, and learn. We owe it to ourselves and others.

      I appreciate your insight, Ranjith, and I enjoyed reading this essay.

    • Mac, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I’m thrilled to hear that you have new acquaintances from India! ‘Character over Category’ is powerful. We all need to imbibe this truth.

  6. Ranjith, thank you for sharing your world view. My husband is from the Sub Continent also and our complexions match. However, some of our children are very “beautiful” and have much lighter skin than us. That is a blessing and not so much. “How did they produce a child “like that”?

    Believe it or not Black Americans have the same issue. These are layers of self-hatred.

    The source of all unhappiness, prejudice and racism is an impure heart. That is where it all begins. Hopefully, we can guide others on that path.

    • Cordelia, thank you for taking the time to read, comment, and share your story. Amidst the chaos, I hope that there are millions and billions of heart transplants happening all around the globe. It’s the need of the hour.

  7. Thank you again, Ranjith. My mother had beautiful dark skin more than usual for most in her family. A cruel maternal aunt along with others used to bully her about her skin color. Ironically, the aunt later birthed a son with the same bronze-colored skin. Because of what my mother endured, she prayed that her children would have lighter skin. We did, and I said, ”Why?” My mother had gorgeous skin. Guess what? She did not realize that she had the last laugh. In her eighties, she looked about twenty years younger compared to her more wrinkled, Lily-white contemporaries.

    It saddened me for her as it still does for others that people remain focused on the external rather than the internal. Our soul is colorless as it should be sparkling for each of us in uniqueness. Again, I appreciate your lovely article!

    • Darlene. thank you for taking the time to read, comment, and share your story. When folks are interested in mostly the external, it speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Lack of patience, substance…Just plain shallow.

      “Our soul is colorless” – this is wisdom, Darlene. Going to add this to my list of favorite quotes!!