Written By : Saba S. Stephen

The ‘angel of imagination’ portrayed in this article is purely fictitious and a product of the author's humble imagination.

                                               SIXTY SHADES OF GRAY


Lying all alone on cloud nine, the angel of imagination was humming the hymns of ancient times. His proposed plans for coming spring recently got approved by the higher heavenly authorities, so a great burden of responsibility was off his shoulders for now. This year the grass would grow more vigorously with the slightest tinge of yellow and red roses would bloom with the deepest burgundy highlights around the edges. He was feeling quite accomplished, and thus took refuge in his leisure time and plump clouds. After a year of intense brainstorming, he was finally free to enjoy the fruits of his labor and soar on top of the world, both literally and metaphorically.

Whilst he was taking pleasure in his new found bliss, he heard a suppressed scream coming from the land underneath his resting place. He got up and took out his magnifying glass to get a closer look of what was going on. Sadly, the sight was way harsher than his most unproductive days. He saw an eastern girl being subjected to endure the rejection for the fourteenth time, because she was not blessed with a fair complexion. The scrutinizing looks of her potential family abhorrently penetrated her body and soul, as she remained silent and waited for their obvious judgment. That reality simply shattered the angel of imagination to the very core and twisted his bliss into a hiss.

After a moment of overanalyzing the observed scenario, he shook his head and thought he shouldn't jump to conclusions about the human brutalities so quickly. It was just one unfortunate situation which he randomly encountered, and it shouldn’t take a toll on his happy mood. So, he prayed a prayer for the eastern girl's future, picked up his magnifying glass, and bravely began to scan the western lands. There he came across a bunch of high school girls giggling and playing beach ball at the sea shore. Every girl was having a time of her life except for one who was trying to hide her tears behind the pages of her favorite book. She was a pale young lady who wished to mingle with her super-suntanned equals, but feared their cruel comments and evil taunts would slice her bullied heart.

The current sight completely crashed the already weakened reasoning capability of the angel of imagination. He immediately put down his magnifying glass and took out a preserved envelope from under his wings. The envelope was awarded to him for his extraordinary performance during the last couple of centuries, and contained two magical wishes that could beat the impossible. So he opened the envelope in a swift motion with an intention to utilize his very first wish. He had a calculated plan in his mind as he fished for tan and cream color paints in his satchel, but all hell broke loose when he realized he had emptied those paint tubes on his version of Mona Lisa during his last year's vacation.

The angel of imagination did not lose hope right away and searched for a fine alternative solution in the satchel, until his hand bumped into two hardly used black and white paint tubes. He took out those tubes eagerly and read their label information. They were merely used to color the zebras and penguins a billion years ago. So he decided not to let his wish go to waste and color the whole world black and white, like some 1950's Hollywood movie. He knew that his blonde locks and blue eyes would fade into grey too, but he was willing to make the sacrifice for those two victimized hearts. And finally, when he was done blending his perfect hues and tinges, he splattered his imagination onto the face of the Earth.

The grays swam through each and every vein of clay and changed everything in its wake. Those colors not only transformed the lives of two poor girls but also caused many miraculous positive changes. The eggplant earned all the respect it deserved, the white chocolate was awarded a shelf space next to the dark one, the black puppy eventually got adopted by a family, and ‘the ugly duckling’ was no longer considered a sad tale. All in all, the world in black and white was a better place, where skins and rinds were mere protective drapes.

Regrettably, when the angel of imagination called it a day and decided to go home, he heard two little girls arguing over the shades of gray. The humans somehow succeeded in developing a new box of color pencils for the young ones, while he was busy collecting his scattered things. That truth broke his spirit into a million pieces and his mind sank to the bottom of despair. Alas, the conflict could not end at the skin, for the bitterness lies within the heart. The angel of imagination irately opened a bottle of thinner and spilled it onto the vast lands. The things went back to the way they were, except his two ill-utilized valued wishes.

Marilyn Monroe once said: “All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t.” When babies are born, we feed them nutritious food to strengthen their bones and teach them perfection standards to weaken their souls. We force them into a labyrinth of social acceptance that keeps them from making peace with their exteriors. All children deserve a chance to feel alive in this lackadaisical world. They must be assured that an immense world of strengths and possibilities exists within their cores. Beauty is something that the eyes can’t see and the soul can’t flee; it is an essence deeper than our color of skin and shape of limbs. In our world, however, beauty only means a manifestation of some self-crafted measures of attractiveness. We cannot euthanize such societal barbarity with our intentions if we keep resuscitating it with our actions. We must make up our minds to break free of this emotional sadomasochism, once and for all, and say goodbye to our old ways. Luckily, it’s never too late to paint our blacked out hearts with great white hope and live beyond sixty shades of gray.