By Secret Writings
Illustrated by Praveen Kumar T
Maybe that dream has ended but its effect on me, the memories and leftover questions, will last forever.
He slid towards me an old-looking small white box from his bag and said “Smell this, you’ll get emotional looking at it”. There was a faint fragrance when I smelled the box. “I went to Paris a few years back and met a guy, and fell in love with him. He started showing pictures of himself on his cell phone. I asked if he was French. He corrected me, saying he was Chilean. We couldn’t understand each other’s language, we talked through Google translator throughout. The meeting was so beautiful that till today I carry his fragrance with me everywhere.”
I was shocked listening to him. I was worried about how he would spend his entire life pretending with his wife. I wondered what circumstances led him to agree to marriage.
The last time I met him he had gorgeous, long, curly hair. In our beautiful moments together, when our faces were close to each other, I would ask him to open his hair and run my fingers through his curls, losing myself in his love. This time his hair was cut very short. When I asked why that was, he answered that he is growing them out again. I understood that during his wedding someone must have pressurised him to cut his hair. According to our society, real men, serious men, don’t have long hair.
He showed me pictures of the rangolis and paintings he had made and the cakes he had baked. He told me stories about always being the topper in school. Then he got sad, and said “sometimes I think I am gay and sometimes I think I am not”. I assured him, “whoever you are, you are worthy of love and you have qualities that no one else does.”
During the conversation, I noticed his frail legs and realised that he had lost an unhealthy amount of weight. I told him that he looked different, that something had changed in him. He said, “Yes, I have lost a lot of weight after marriage, perhaps I have some mental-health problems” I understood and told him that if he wished to cry, he could. He might feel better. Every night we have to prove our manhood in bed and spend our entire lives pretending and reassuring the people around us that everything is “normal”. Some gay men even take Viagra so they can prove themselves in bed. I doubt our wives are fooled, simply carrying out their own helpless pretence and reassurance on all sides, including sometimes, to their lonely selves.
His long fingers had very beautiful rings, with varied designs. I asked him which one was his wedding ring. He replied “My wedding ring was a bit too big for me and I never got round to fixing it”. We looked at each other and shared a smile. My fingers were empty…the wedding ring is a constant reminder of a false marriage, hence I constantly find excuses to avoid anything which reminds me of it.
That night he was very real- he told me things that he had not even told himself. He would always keep himself occupied with different arts as a form of expression or maybe because it made him forget his own existence. Often when gay people like me – like us, who are not out – meet others through the internet, it is mainly to fulfill carnal desires. The moment our lust is fulfilled, we turn our backs and sleep facing the other way – as if we feel nothing, as if we are empty inside.
But that night was a beautiful soul-meeting. We never had sex. He asked me “What about you, don’t you want to reach climax?” I smiled and said, “I orgasm just by meeting you and listening to you.” We kept talking till we fell asleep. He took my hand as if it was his own and placed it on his chest with such authority that it felt like we had known each other forever, and he would never let me go. It is my bad habit that I can’t fall asleep cuddling someone or holding their hand. I slowly lifted my hand, and turned around so I could sleep.
A few days ago, I had carefully looked at his father’s house where he also lives. There was a big iron gate, and huge walls, as though it were a jail, and on one of the walls sat a symbol of his personality- a quiet musical instrument. The reality is that we do not live in homes, we live in jails. Those who do not know what their children want, can we call those people parents? The cost of a big house, money, and business is our silence, and marriage and sex with someone of our parents’ choice. We spend our whole lives carrying the weight of these superficial relationships, admittedly fearful of leaving those very same privileges.
I often think about how we have ruined our own lives – and someone’s else’s too. People like us are not worthy of being the life-partner of any woman, because we were never meant to be. What do we say to a woman who has no say in any of this? How do we say society has placed its false sense of reputation and notions of masculinity on our shoulders? I am always afraid of my wife suspecting me. If she gets to know the truth about my sexuality and leaves me, how will I explain myself to my parents and to society? I don’t have the courage to look into her eyes and speak to her. Today, we are in this position because we don’t have the strength to break out of the binding norms of our society. A courage I’m often trying to gather, and then losing.
Inside that constant churn, I often read this poem by Amrita Pritam, and think about him.
Mein tujhe fir milungi (मैं तुझे फिर मिलूँगी)
kahan kaise pata nahin (कहाँ कैसे पता नहीं)
shayad teri kalpanaon (शायद तेरे कल्पनाओं)
ki prerna ban (की प्रेरणा बन)
tere canvas par utrungi (तेरे केनवास पर उतरुँगी)
ya tere canvas par (या तेरे केनवास पर)
ek rahasyamai lakeer ban (एक रहस्यमयी लकीर बन)
khamosh tujhe dekhti rahoongi (ख़ामोश तुझे देखती रहूँगी)
mein tujhe fir milungi (मैं तुझे फिर मिलूँगी)
kahan kaise pata nahin…(कहाँ कैसे पता नहीं…)
I will meet you again
I don’t know where or how
Maybe in your thoughts
Maybe as your inspiration
I will manifest on your canvas
Or perhaps lurking on your canvas
As a mysterious streak of colour
I will gaze at you in silence
Till we meet again