“Amidst confusion, unacceptability and being gay” has been edited by Aashna Kanuga
Captivated by the harmony of the sky lit neon-blue and the waves as they gently crawled ashore murmuring a melody, Sumit had walked far from the resort he and his friends had boarded in Goa. He trod into the water until his feet were completely submerged, and the soft breeze brushed against his skin. He felt as if nature just gave him a warm hug for the thought, that had been running around in his mind for a long time. Something that he’d never dared to tell anyone. A secret that he kept to himself.
It was the kind of secret that often left him awake all night. Every now and then he thought he’d found a way to reveal it in an appropriate manner, but he always failed.
“Hey dude, are you alright? What are you doing out here?”
Startled by a hand on his shoulder, he turned to find his best friend Anish. “I should ask the same question,” Sumit snapped. “Well, I came to look for you. Walked all the way down from the resort to this stranded area of the beach, where only a crazy guy like you is strolling around.” Sumit knew he had asked a stupid question but he continued, “Just thank me you fitness freak, because of me you walked miles. Consider this as a morning walk. Let’s go now.”
In the evening the gang hit the beach, and by nightfall, they were in a pub, enjoying their drinks. Sumit, for some reason, had one drink too many. Anish had joined him too but was more than mildly aware of his surroundings. He noticed Sumit stumble from his stool as he tried to get up and, being the good friend he was, he helped Sumit reach his room. Settling him in bed, Anish was about to leave when he heard Sumit mumbling, “I am gay.”
At first, Anish thought that it was Sumit’s alcohol talking, but then the mumbling escalated to proper shouting, “I am gay, no one knows it, not even Anish my best buddy. Shhh.. Sumit you’re a fool, don’t let this secret out, you cannot tell anyone you are gay, they will despise you.” Anish stood motionless without any clue how to respond his friend’s this shameful secret.
Anish didn’t know whether or not to bring up the incident after that night, and even if he managed to, he was worried about the conversation that’d follow. He decided not to discuss it until the trip ended. It was about a week later, while they sat at Anish’s home playing video games, that he decided to ask Sumit about it. He paused the video game.
Sumit retorted, “Why would you pause the game when I was about to win? Such a sour puss!”
Anish pursed his lips. What seemed like after an eternity of gathering some courage, Anish as least awkwardly as he could, told Sumit about his drunken confession and asked if it was true.
Sumit’s nostrils flared and hand turned into a fist. He yelled at him, “What the hell are you talking about? How can you even think I am gay?”
Anish assured him, “look even if it is true you can tell me without…” but before Anish could complete his sentence, Sumit left. From that day on, they hardly talked to each other.
Two weeks later Sumit texted Anish, “Are you free, can we meet?”.
They both sat, and Sumit nervously spoke, “First of all I am sorry for my behaviour, the reason I was offended and reacted furiously to the question you asked was because it is true, but I did not have the guts or rather I was not prepared to answer it as no one had ever asked me about it before, let alone directly. You were the first one and to be honest, I am glad it was you who came to know about it first because had it been anyone else, the consequences would have been worse. You know how homosexuals are perceived even today. I was afraid and anxious about bringing this out. It took me time, myself, to accept myself. As much as I do not want you to, you are free to judge me, but that would not change a thing. ”
Anish remained silent for a minute or so, not knowing how to respond, but then he spoke, “How can you ever think I will judge you on such a matter? Do you think it matters to me whether you like men over women? I would not have to call dibs on the next pretty girl in a bar, you just gave me the happiest news ever.”
Sumit sighed in relief on hearing those words and burst into a fit of laughter as Anish decided to join. make a joke. “Though there is one question I am curious to ask. Don’t get offended but just asking – you aren’t interested in me, are you?”
Anish held Sumit’s hand all of a sudden and asked, “Though there is one question I am curious to ask. Don’t get offended but just asking – you aren’t interested in me, are you?”
Sumit slapped and cringed mockingly. “I would have to be a blind ass gay man to like you.” And the evening went way better than both of them anticipated it to be.
“It does not matter to me, but you see then our parents won’t accept our marriage as we belong to different states,” replied Anish and just like that, Sumit thought hundred kilos were lifted off his shoulder.
However, he was still unsure about talking about his sexuality to his parents. Anish advised him to wait for the right time but he knew there was no such thing as right time for such a revelation since there was no telling how they’d react. He chose to tell his parents on his birthday.
As the day arrived, Sumit’s heart beat heavily. That evening, he told his parents he had something to say. Asking them to sit on the couch, he began, “I want a present. It’s the most important thing that I will ever ask you for.”
“What do you want, beta?” His mother asked.
Trembling, his blood ran cold, but he finally shakily spoke, “Mom. Dad. I am gay… And-”. Hearing only the three taboo words, his father stood up, gave him a tight slap, and walked away. His mother, sat there motionless with shock, unable to digest what had just happened and then suddenly burst into tears, asking “This cannot be true, tell me it’s just a joke.”
“It’s not a joke, mom!” Sumit broke down, as he darted to his room. None of them slept that night.
The next day, his father ordered him to get ready. When Sumit asked why, he replied, “I have made an appointment with a psychiatrist.” “I am not mad or mentally ill!” Sumit yelled, but he knew there was no other choice but to obey his father. He hoped for some support from his mother, but she too said, “Your father is right. How will I show my face to our community? What will I tell them?” By a few days later, his parents barely spoke to him, except to have an errand run or to ask about his treatment. Sometimes his father would say, “You better show some progress, I don’t want my money to go to waste”. Drowning in frustration, Sumit tried to isolate himself as much as he could. He gave up on his friends.
Dumbstruck a moment and infuriated the other, Sumit yelled,“I am not mad or mentally ill!” He hoped for some support from his mother, but she too said, “Your father is right. How will I show my face to our community? What will I tell them?” For a few days, his parents barely spoke to him, except to have an errand run or to ask about his treatment. Sometimes his father would say, “You better show some progress, I don’t want my money to go to waste”.Drowning in frustration, Sumit tried to isolate himself as much as he could. He gave up on his friends.
Drowning in frustration, Sumit tried to isolate himself as much as he could. A small of part of his being, his sexuality became the only thing that defined him. He could not tolerate being treated like an outlaw, just because he liked men. It left him enraged and heart broken, both at the same time. From an occasional one cigarette a day, he started finishing packs, Not even his wildest dreams could he have fathomed all his world would go all topsy turvy.
All this while, Anish tried contacting Sumit. But availed no response. He was sick of this and could no longer see his friend being treated so wrongly. So after several failed attempts, he persuaded Sumit’s mother to read articles about homosexuality. He started sending her videos of rallies and supporters. He took it into his own hands, to educate her about the normalcy of being queer. As slow as the process was, 7 months and over 100 articles, videos and testimonials later, she came to terms with it. And not nonchalantly, but with complete awareness and acceptance.
“Sumit, I’m sorry for all the trouble you had to go through. I was ashamed of you being gay and believing it as an illness, and I was wrong. I still need time to accept it, but I can no longer bear you part away from us. I will try and talk to your father, no matter how long it takes for him to support you”. Sumit’s eyes had welled up with tears, and like a young child he relieved his heart by crying unabashedly on his mother’s lap.
The boundaries between him and his mother had finally melted away. But he still needed his father’s acceptance and it was a challenge. However, this time he was not facing this secret alone. And that kept him going.
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