Through My Brown Eyes

Akta_2.jpg

Growing up in India, I was always fascinated by anyone who had colored eyes. By colored eyes, I mean, not brown! No surprise that I have deep brown eyes and I always wondered, would I see the world differently with green, grey or blue eyes?

While at school, my eyes saw the struggles my parents went through to give my brother and I the best education they could afford. My parents struggling with my father’s heart condition and my mother multitasking between sewing clothes and raising kids to keep food on the table. I went through my younger years feeling like there should be more to life than what my ordinary brown eyes saw — maybe it was that I went to Chowpatty beach in Mumbai and my friends went to beaches in Thailand. The color of money could be so different for my friends who came in cars and I always saw the black and yellow taxi.

Will I ever feel extraordinary? To feel ‘extraordinary,’ I worked very hard through my education, where I ranked second in my class by the time I graduated. And again that feeling of ‘if my eyes see myself differently had I ranked first?” That feeling remained.

I joined Morgan Stanley, and worked my way from a trainee to an associate in 3 years. The day came when my boss got the promotion I believed I deserved. Would the world be different if I was given that senior associate promotion I worked so hard to earn through the entire year? That feeling remained.

After spending a decade in finance and banking, I decided to enter the world of entrepreneurship and fashion. Like many Indians, I came to the states to live my American dream. At security check-in, I looked around the lines of immigrant and citizens again reminded me that I am an outsider, so that feeling remained.

With the world around us, every day I experience a bias — gender, political and race. That feeling remained.

But earlier this year, I got my puppy. At 8 weeks, he saw me first as a stranger, but as he turns 6 months, he sees me through his deep brown eyes as extraordinary. No color, no achievement, no flaw. Just pure love, admiration and awe.

Now each day that I wake up and get to see him see me. I feel extraordinary. I feel grateful that I don’t see the world through the green eyes — where melatonin differentiates people, where your gender decides how much you are paid, and where you are born decides your destiny.

Through my brown eyes, I no longer see the world as that young girl who felt you needed green, grey or blue eyes to be extraordinary.

I see the world as colorful — where every color is beautiful. 
I see it as diverse — where we strive for balance and not extremes. 
I see the world as culturally curious — where we explore and open our minds to possibilities.

I am proud that I am a minority and I am extraordinary.