India’s test opener Abhinav Mukund has lashed out at social-media trolls who have been commenting on his complexion. In a lengthy post on Twitter, Mukund, who is presently in Sri Lanka with the Indian team, wrote that he was speaking up not just for himself but “for many from our country who experience ridicule based on the colour on one’s skin”.
In later tweets, he explained that his post was directed at those posting derogatory things about his skin colour and had no connection with anyone in the team.
“Fair isn’t the only lovely or handsome guys! Stay true, stay focussed, be comfortable in your own skin,” he wrote. Mukund’s reaction might well have been triggered by a few comments on a picture tweeted by allrounder Hardik Pandya, which has the Tamil Nadu left-hander posing next to Virat Kohli and K L Rahul among others.
One comment read, “the guy at extreme left in second pic is way too black to even called black”. Another one, this time in response to Mukund’s post, said, “sir SOUTH ke saare aise hi kaale kalutee hote hn (everyone from the south are black like this)…not your mistake…”
In a climate where Indian cricketers have generally refrained from commenting on social or political issues, Mukund’s decision to go public with his grievance stands out. He revealed that he’d been subject to name-calling and insults from a young age, and had over the years shrugged them off. But the rise of social media, he wrote, had burgeoned the magnitude of the abuse targeting those with darker skin.
“I have been subject to a lot of name calling and I have laughed and shrugged it off because I had bigger goals! Affected young, I toughened up because this was never something that would pull me down. There were many times when I chose not to dignify these insults with responses. Obviously, with the rise of social media it has gone to a magnitude that I see people hurling abuses left, right and centre at something I have absolutely no control over,” he posted.
“I am writing today not to garner sympathy or attention but with the hope to change the mindset of people on an issue I feel strongly about,” he wrote.
And, while insisting that people’s “obsession” over his skin colour had been a “mystery” to him, he said he doesn’t regret all the hours he spent under the hot Chennai sun playing cricket.
“I have been playing cricket since the age of 10 and I have gradually climbed up the ladder to where I am right now. It is an honour to get the chance to represent the country at the highest level. I have been travelling a lot within and outside our country since I was 15,” wrote the 27-year-old batsman.
“I have played and trained day in and day out in the sun and not once have I regretted the fact that I have tanned or lost a couple of shades. It is simply because I love what I do and I have been able to achieve certain things only because I have spent hours outdoors. I come from Chennai probably one of the hottest places in our country and I have gladly spent most of my adult life in the cricket ground,” he wrote.
Mukund has played 7 Tests for India, the latest being the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle last month, and has spent more than a decade in domestic cricket.