aving a light, bright vagina has been my one big ambition. For years, I've looked at all the other women getting fantastic jobs, flying first class, marrying wonderful men who only ever beat them up as part of an erotic bedroom game, women who wander down Gurgaon's MG road unmolested by gangs of thugs or policemen and wondered, 'What do they have that I don't have?' The answer came to me in a blinding flash: they're fair everywhere; why, they're fair even down there.
Let me make it clear: I am obsessed with fairness. Before I step out into the blazing heat of Delhi's summer I always throw on enough sunblock to cause an eclipse, swaddle my face and my neck in a voluminous dupatta and wedge huge Jackie O sunglasses on my nose. I pull on flesh-coloured elbow gloves that make me look like Sushmita Sen with a face transplant but minus the liposuction and fake tits. Also, for as long as I can remember, I've been slathering on Fair & Lovely, using only those face washes that promise to slough off my brown skin and reveal the superbly roseate Caucasian dermis underneath, and spending a monthly fortune on gold facials. On very sunny days, I carry a dual purpose umbrella, one that morphs into a gun. Yes, I know, very Georgi Markov, but perfectly suited to conditions in the National Capital Region, I assure you.
Sadly, these measures have ensured that I look like layer cake: fair head, brown body and oh, not a purple vagina with blue spots, but definitely a dark one. Nobody says it out loud but few argumentative Indians want to discuss Derrida, Foucault and Chomsky with lips they can't see when the lights are off. By now you can probably tell I have one of those vaginas that insists on intellectualising everything, that spends an inordinate amount of time pondering about the Big Questions of Life, a genuine thinker, but one that, nevertheless, wants to be light, bright, pink-white - ah, the tragedy of the modern Indian woman, so smart, yet so utterly idiotic.
This is sex not spirituality, men. It's all got to be visible, touchable and, befitting a race that speaks in many tongues, fluently cunnilingual.
So, yeah, I have no problem with that TV spot except that at first, it made no sense. Why was the woman in the ad looking longingly at her husband/partner-whom-she's-been-sleeping-with-for-so-long-she-doesn't-even-notice-when-he-farts-in-bed? Didn't she have to plan out her day, rustle up a gourmet breakfast, make lists, okay, read the newspaper? Nah, how is she to get at the paper with the fartist hogging it? So she passes him a cup of coffee minus the strychnine. It would never do to murder a man before breakfast.
Illustration by Enakshi Roy | Dev Kabir Malik Design
Besides, what would the 13-year-old house help, who hasn't been paid for the last three months, think? Next, the woman pops into the shower — the memsahib not the house help, who isn't allowed showers — and a line drawing appears. The animation specifies exactly where the mysterious Clean and Dry gets to work. Is it like Itch Guard, which kills the summer fungi that make Indian men scratch their balls even more than they are normally wont to? Then, the voiceover mentions brightness, shine, which translates to "magical melanin reduction" in the elaborate code of Indian adspeak. Finally, I see the light. This is a wonder product; it's an Itch Guard that promises to bleach my oyster. This is what I had been working towards all my life — achieving a light, bright vulva, a lit clit, a perfect pudendum, a cleft to beat all clefts, an utterly lovable labia.
I'm elated but also a bit alarmed. Clean and Dry is all very well, but where are the products to help me have a perfectly depilated snatch rivalling Sunny Leone's... because if it's stubbly, how the hell will the bedfellow even know I'm fair where it matters, at the core? I suppose some big conglomerate is awaiting reports on my venerable mons before launching a range of allied products. I and my new glow-in-the-dark hot button aren't complaining. I feel reborn. In celebration, my very vocal beaver has been quoting from the metaphysical poets, stealing lines from Eve Ensler and filling its thought bubbles with flashes of Georgia O'Keefe.
My confidence has surged. I intimidate even the boys from Karnal and Rohtak who drive into the NCR for their weekend gangbangs. When I, dressed in a sheer strappy top and itsy-bitsy shorts, swigging from a bottle of beer and blowing smoke rings into the air, saunter down the road past groups of binge-drinking men post, gasp, 8pm, all they do is whisper in terror: "Keep away from her. She's the possessor of a...a light, bright vagina!" Ah yes, my lovebox is a wonderful talisman, more effective than a nazar suraksha kavach, more potent than a loaded gun, and pretty damn good looking too.
Thanks to my favourite intimate wash, I now have a fantastic job; I've dumped the resident fartist for a trust fund millionaire who has long and thoughtful discussions on fascism and the Indian state with my labia; I am self-actualised.
Thank you, Clean and Dry, for turning my life around.