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Writer Of The Month: Akshitha Ramalingam

Introduced by Laura Maclennan

From short poems about love to more detailed pieces of writing about race, difference and a societal inability to stop pitting the human race against each other, reading Akshitha’s work ahead of this introduction I was, as Akshitha herself hoped I’d be, left holding my breath as I digested the powerful undercurrent of the eloquence, honesty and bravery within her work. I am proud to introduce India-based Akshitha, as April’s Writer Of The Month.

Drenched from a young age by the torrential outpouring of societal observations on skin tones and belonging, Akshitha writes fearlessly with a hope to disquiet but stabilise the beauty of life and diminish the fear that continues to rise over those perceived as different, or not quite placed where they should be in the world. She says:

My dad is dark, and my mom is fair. I am brown, with the features of my dad. My entire childhood was surrounded by one single phrase: “Girls are beautiful only when they are fair.”  My mom became pregnant when I was four and I was the most excited in the family to welcome my little brother. Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, my paternal grandmother took me to the temple every day and asked me to pray to God to have a fair-skinned brother. As an innocent child, I prayed to God intensely and wholeheartedly, asking for a fair-skinned little brother. All my life, people have asked my mother: ”Is she really your daughter? You are fair but your daughter is dark!’’

Akshitha is not the only one within her family to experience these observations and this heavily inspires her work:

This is just a tiny tale of mine, but there are millions of similar unheard stories echoing in the hearts of the innocent victims of society. My father has been criticised for his colour his entire life. My maternal grandmother is dark; however, my grandfather is fair. I asked her if she had ever been criticised for her appearance? This is what she had to say: “I married at the age of 15 and right after that, the most common question from my new relatives was: How did your husband agree to marry you? ‘Ramakrishna, you are white as milk and she is dark and ugly as a crow. Why did you marry her?’ He was asked this question repeatedly by everyone around. I’m now 70 years old and decades have passed, but I can never forget all the teasing and taunting I faced.”

With a hopeless smile, she teared up. Every single drop of her tears carried a ton of inferiority and insecurity, unnecessarily imparted by society in the early stages of her life, making her mourn for the rest of it.

Me: “Dear crow, people say you are black and ugly and the peacock is blue and beautiful. Why?”

Crow: “Maybe your people don’t know that black and blue are just colours. But I do!”

The chorus of ‘Wicked Queens’ telling Akshitha she is not the fairest in the land, is not something she allows to silence her. Quite the opposite:

The very same society which praised my mom for being fair-skinned, mocked and criticised her for being short and fat. No matter how good you are, society will always find something to break you down. I was relentlessly compared with my cousin for anything and everything. “Look, your cousin skates like a pro, while you skate like a duck.” They would ridiculously make fun of me. She was always considered a winnerbut, to me, I always saw myself as a survivor.

In the face of a lifetime of comparisons and inherited, echoing generational voices speaking unfulfillment, Akshitha rallies with resilience and a voice which echoes that little bit louder:

Quack quack you ugly ducking,
Mocked yet another web feet;
Fit for nothing; exclaims,
The fit of the fittest fatso;
Drink everything that I piddle you broken mermaid,
For Im the queen of the devoid fins;
To embitter you, Im waved – Sneaker,
All that are waved isn’t the strongest – Air;
Winners may have tasted failure,
But, It’s the survivor’s daily meal;
To be a winner, you need a competitor,
To be a survivor, Just you, is all that you need;
A dependent winner is incomparable,
To an independent survivor;
Winners are created
But, Survivors are born!

Now in her late twenties and mother herself to her ‘dearest daughter’ who has just turned three and was born fair, Akshitha is still experiencing society as: “A proud contributor to diminishing the self-esteem and mental health of an individual in infinite ways.”  Akshitha’s vantage point is different, but the view is so very familiar to her.  She shares:

After two decades, people still ask me the same question: “Is she really your daughter? Oh, you both look so different!” they mock. The only change is my role, which has shifted from being a daughter to a mother. I pity this knowledgeable society for not knowing the science of genetics that determines everything about how a person looks.

Akshitha shouts louder still. She survives and wins each day for herself and shows her daughter how to do the same. While as the mother of a daughter, I can recognise the resilience required of Akshitha to do this, as a white, British woman, I understand that it is in no way the same and am grateful that Akshitha creates catalysts for conversations with her work.

So how does she hold on to her resilience and get back up each day? How does one survive drowning in a lifetime of unmeetable expectations? From Akshitha’s experiences, she believes that survival is dependent on fighting the ‘foe’ and finding a way to walk securely on the societal quicksand. She says:

Then and now, life is simply beautiful. All that it demands to experience its beauty is a stable mind with utmost clarity. In my experience, fear is the biggest foe to achieving stability. From birth, minds are constantly instilled with the ruthless opinions of society, which irrespectively sets standards for everything and anything under the sun. An individual’s self-esteem is pathetically shattered by racism, body shaming, criticism, comparison – the list goes on. I believe it is these harsh judgments of society which act as the source to all sorts of fear and mental health issues.

Akshitha is brave. Akshitha is bold. She writes:

Appreciating someone for their talent is commendable, but appreciation shouldn’t be an unhealthy seed to make someone feel inferior or superior. The world never has enough nasty stuff to hit us with. So, what can give us a seamlessly fulfilling life? The answer is stability. Stability in realising who you are. It will take you a long way far!

It’s clear from Akshitha’s work she is painfully aware that, as a society, we remain unstable and unwilling to embrace differences for fear of making the earth fall from under our feet. We’re clinging onto anything that makes us feel safe. How do we do approach this differently? Akshitha asks:

How does one attain stability?

Thankfully, from her lived experiences, she has some thoughts and says:

Self-realisation is the key. The realisation of who you are, understanding your potential, and having the utmost ability to identify whom you want to be in the future determines it all. Focus on every minuscule thing that contributes to building the dream YOU!

In the process of self-realisation, self-doubt-driven fear would step forward, acting as a vital barrier, constantly holding you back. No human is born with self-doubt or fear. It is etched by the cruel perpetual acts of society.

Ever not fear,
For anything far and near.
A tiny seed of fear sowed,
Can get all the goodness shoved.
It is not the trouble that fears you,
It’s the fear that troubles you.
Worries faced alongside fear,
Merrily catalyses it all with sheer.
Worries faced parted with fear,
Wholly loses its mighty power to shear.
A ray of fear, when in certain;
Can turn mustard into a mountain.
So to be happy, ever not fear,
For anything far and near!

Akshitha considers the fear that keeps society so divisive and judgmental comes from a fear of not honouring the past and experiences that previous generations endured for us. That, just as her family’s fears about skin tone have been passed down, the fear that acceptance of something different does someone you love a dishonour, keeps the cycle moving. When does the cycle break? Or rather, how? Akshitha says:

Build a strong wall of resilience around you. Never let society’s incessant blabber hit you. Generate the power to forget the unwanted past. To forget isn’t an ailment, but rather a blessing at times.

Let the past remain in the past!

It’s time to rewire your brain and change the pattern of what you perceive. Gather the courage to realise the reality of your true self and believe it with utmost focus and clarity. From there, all the unrealistic self-doubts and imaginative fears will vanish in no time.

When your inner stability and your resilience to the outer world are synchronous with every single breath of yours, then you are the master of fine living!

This vision and hope for the future is one that underpins my work so far and I appreciate the work Akshitha is doing to maintain her resilience, to keep making her voice heard, to show her daughter that she can be the one to break the cycle  –  or at least weaken it – so that generations to come cannot return to this way of being. It is, as Akshitha discusses, mindset and attitude:

So, how can one rewire the brain and change the thought pattern?

The brain is just a machine; it cannot comprehend the difference between good and bad. If you are fearful, it generates thoughts of fear. If you are brave, it generates thoughts of courage. So be aware of what you put in your brain. Your focus decides everything. Be clear and clever about what you want.

Let me state an example of what works and what does not. Now, try not to think of a lion. Got you, the first thing that came to your mind was a lion, right?!  As I said, the mind won’t analyse; rather, it will just follow what you put in it.

When you think ‘I don’t want anything bad to happen’ your brain will focus only on the bad that you’re afraid to happen and not on the good. Instead, modify and structure the way you think. Say: “I want the good to happen.” This will shift the pattern, making your brain focus on the good and process strong positive thoughts, sowing seeds for healthy, stable living. Consistency is imperative!  Little changes bring big differences.

Get rid of the unrealistic and realise the reality of your true self. Consistently nurture pure intentions, for they have the mighty power to create and design the destiny you wish for.

When your inner stability and resilience to the outer are in perfect sync with every single breath of yours, then you are the master of fine Living!  Win your fate and ride over it!

In sharing her work and her experiences, Akshitha shows us how easy it is to listen to the loudest voice and follow their thinking, also gently reminding us we are the ones with power, even when we feel powerless, and that our voices can be heard too. We just need to BELIEVE!

Connect with Akshitha on Instagram: @akshitharamalingam on LinkedIn: @akshitharamalingam and via their website:


Issue 16 of Write On! is coming out on 26 April. See the digital issue from the 26, or pick up a copy in local libraries and other venues. In the meantime, you can find previous editions on our magazines page here .

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If you or someone you know has been affected by issues covered in our pages, please see the relevant link below for ​information, advice and support​:

Get rid of the unrealistic and realise the reality of your true self. Consistently nurture pure intentions, for they have the mighty power to create and design the destiny you wish for.