By Imran Khan
Illustrated by: Anshumaan Saathe
I was chopping some vegetables in my small tuition center when three young boys came in. They wanted to join my classes. I asked them to come back the next day. I still remember that day when I saw Gaurav for the first time. It was the 3rd of July, 2010 and he was standing in between the other two. While he was still in class 11th, he was already 19 years old. At first glance, his eyes mesmerized me and I felt like I was floating among the clouds. I had fallen in love with him. It wasn’t just an infatuation. In a few days we started messaging each other and slowly realized that we were both in love. A few days later I noticed something peculiar. Whenever I used to thank him for something, he used to giggle a lot. So, one day I asked him about it and he said, “Let me tell you the full form of THANKS, it means Ten Hugs And Nine Kisses”. I was tongue-tied as in the back of my mind, I was thinking about the formality, the kind of morality that needed to be followed in a teacher-student relationship.
One day it was raining heavily and I had taken my scooty out for a ride. I was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and shorts. I saw some kids playing in the rain and joined them. After a few moments I saw Gaurav. He was wearing a capri and a t-shirt. He directly approached me. I asked him what was he doing there and he replied that his house was just around the corner and invited me home. I readily accepted his invitation. When I reached there I found out that his family had gone to their village. My heart was racing. He asked me whether I wanted to have water and I politely declined. Then, he sat beside me and said, “You’re my teacher just for 2 hours and after that, a friend”. I smiled and said, “Done!”
After that, he started to come closer to me. I was in the same trance as he was. My body and lips were trembling in excitement. I suddenly leapt forward and took him in my arms. My heartbeat was off the charts and we were both breathing rapidly. He tilted my head upwards and started kissing me on my lips. This was my first experience of actually kissing anyone. As we slowly made our way to the bed, it seemed my soul was more hungry than my body and I believe we were both feeling the same thing. In that moment we were just one body with two souls inhabiting it. He covered me like a sheet and his arms gave me solace. He looked closely and admired my body, and took me under his control.
it’s a chill breeze and we walk amidst it
the body desires a body to wrap itself in
the wild cold kiss of dew upon the skin
let’s wrap something for the souls to join in
Our lives then took off. After completing his boards he joined a graduation course from IGNOU and in the meantime I made it to the merit list for a regular course of B.Ed at a prestigious college. But this impacted Gaurav negatively and I dropped that course to be with him. He used to stay with me all day and went to his house just to sleep. His parents never objected to him staying at my place. My brother-in-law used to work in Australia, so my sister lived with us. Whenever we wanted to have some private moments, I used to take him to my sister’s empty home instead. We would watch movies, have a bath together and then I would cook for both of us. Three blissful years went by like this and then one day he told me that we will shift to Chandigarh, where he would work and I would stay with him. We were already living like a married couple when I got a call for a scholarship that I had applied for, from an NGO. I wanted the money to apply for a B.Ed course from a private university. After a lot of thought, I decided that I would let Gaurav take the scholarship instead as he was economically weaker and was interested in pursuing a course in graphic designing. He needed 1.32 lakhs for it, out of which he got 1 lakh through the scholarship. I borrowed ₹32,000 from my sister and helped him get into the 1 year diploma course of graphic designing, from a renowned institute. The course went on from 2016 to October 2017 and he became very skilled at his work.
Though he had gone ahead in life, I was still where I was when he was in class 12th. I was just a graduate while he was far ahead of me, but we were still living our lives happily.
It was the day before New Year’s Eve of 2017. When he didn’t visit me, which was unusual, I tried calling him but his phone was switched off. I panicked and rushed to his house where I found a lock at the door. In desperation I tried his mother’s number as well but that was in vain. After almost an hour, I got a WhatsApp message which had a handwritten letter which said,
“Sorry Imran. I can’t live with you as I have a lot of compulsions. Please consider making Sunny (a friend of ours) your life partner. And please don’t try to contact me again or else I’ll have to kill myself.”
I crumbled onto the floor and started crying. I felt cheated. I felt hurt. I couldn’t see or feel anything. I was left all alone. After about 12 days, I decided to build myself up and applied for the position of a teacher at Azim Premji Foundation in Uttarkashi. But this episode pushed me towards depression. My childhood had been full of hardship, and now this episode was similarly, darkening my life.
For a long time after Gaurav, I believed that I wouldn’t fall in love. It’s already quite difficult for queer people to find love and express it freely. Maybe that’s why I was so happy when I was with him. After the breakup, I concentrated on my career and today, I’m happy that I’m finally self-dependent. As my anger and pain slowly subsided, I realized that there isn’t any harm in falling in love once more or wanting to make someone else happy. But it’s equally important to keep in mind that the effort needs to be put in by both individuals in the relationship else it isn’t an equal relationship. When there’s a setback in the general life of a person i.e. job, education, etc. one can get some help from their family or friends but when it comes to falling out of a queer relationship, then it’s quite possible that family or friends wouldn’t even come to know about it. To be honest, I’m afraid someone will break my heart again but the hidden lesson after Gaurav was that even in love, we should seek equality. I shouldn’t lose my individuality so much that another person becomes my whole world. I must take care of myself as much as I would take care of them. Today I work as a writer and would like to thank Gaurav as his exit made me a self-reliant person filled with confidence.
Imran Khan is a qualified post graduate. He is teaching as a youth animator with professional experience for an NGO working with women empowerment and mental health. He is also a researcher, content creator (print and audio) and translator.