I think I will always remember that morning. December 11th, 2013. We were out on the streets, the two of us. Sitting on the pavement with the pigeons, cigarettes and chai in hand, was our daily breakfast ritual.
I don't think I can ever properly describe what it felt like when we found out about the Supreme Court judgement on Section 377, but the memory of it is left intact. "Fuck!", G exclaimed, and handed me her phone. I stared down at the screen, the headline from the news piece staring back at me, unflinching. "Fuck", is all I managed to say.
As we sat there, with our worlds crashing down around us, I wanted to hold her hand. I couldn't bring myself to.
She was livid. And I just sat there. The full import of the situation slowly filling my insides. I could feel my chest closing up. I didn't know if we could even hold hands anymore.So we didn't. We quietly walked back to our shady, cool room in the PG, like good little girls. We didn't speak for a long time. And the first time we held each other's gaze, all I could bring myself to say was, "What now?"I had a boyfriend when I first moved to Delhi. My sweetheart from school days, he was my parents' favourite.
Three months in the city, an air conditioned room aglow with fairy lights, and one drunken make-out session with the most-beautiful-girl-I-had-ever-laid-my-eyes-on later, I realized I might be gay.
G and I were deep, deep in love. I broke up with my boyfriend from school, my best friend, who threatened to out me to my parents. Revenge for heartbreak, he said. "How could you just leave me for a girl?" he said. More than his heart, it was the male ego he had camouflaged so craftily for the three years we were together, that had suffered more damage.
G and I spent every waking moment of every day together. In the PG we were the two weird girls, joined at the hips, and who slept in single beds joined together. Laying in the grass watching clouds, playing with the street dogs, finishing each other's assignments, singing songs together, making love, G had made me whole. I was happier and more fulfilled than I had ever been.
During vacations, we'd spend hours on the phone. One week would be dedicated to a trip to the hills to see her. She had come out to her parents; mine had no idea. To my family, she was my best friend.
That's one advantage same-sex couples have. The same way we didn't have to face any questions from intrusive landlords, moving in together was like cake-walk.
My friends knew about me and G from the very beginning. I didn't make any secret of the unadulterated happiness I was feeling. I was unabashed about my sexuality, and my relationship with G. Except of course, with my family.
Three years into my relationship with the love of my life, I still hadn't come out to my parents. And it bothered me, every single waking moment. On the one hand I felt like I had finally found my home, I had found myself, and at the same time it felt like I was living a lie.
I was terrified of how badly I wanted to tell my parents the truth about myself, and also of how much I didn't want them to ever find out.
For the whole span of 3 years, I had tried to slip in LGBT trivia into conversations and even got my Mom to watch movies like Prayers for Bobby , Boys Don't Cry and Taasher Desh (hoping to strike a chord with the Rabindranath reference). The urgency of outing myself to my parents kept getting severe with every passing day. But the fear of the two most important people in my life not accepting me for who I really am almost left me paralyzed on the inside.
The gnawing feeling that you're a disappointment to your parents is something no child ever wants to deal with. It's the absolute worst. And that is what I was most afraid of.
That winter, that eventful winter, I went home for a month's time. I was so visibly perturbed, my parents started asking questions. Fifteen days into my winter vacation, and two seasons of Glee re-runs down, the crippling fear finally got to me. Not being able to stand the pretence any longer, I came out to my parents over dessert one night.
"I am in love with G", I said. After a few seconds of silence, my mum broke down. I started bawling, while also cursing incessantly, instantly regretting my rash decision. My father walked out of the room, going into a smoking spree. In between sobs, I tried explaining to my parents that it's okay, that I am happier than I have ever been, and that I am going to be okay. I begged them to not hate me. I told them about how afraid I had been, and how horrible I felt about lying to them.
Half an hour down, we sat calmly across from each other. My parents were looking at me in a way they'd never looked at me before. I was dying on the inside. My father broke the silence and said, "Give us some time."
I slept in their bed that night, snuggled between the two of them. My mum held me as I sobbed relentlessly into my pillow. I woke up to breakfast in bed the next morning, the usual vacation-at-home ritual. Baba had left for work an hour back, Maa was in the kitchen. We didn't talk about it at all that day. We haven't spoken about it since.
A week later, my Dad and I went to receive G from the airport. She was going to spend the week at my place, before we headed off to Delhi together. The only catch being, my mother would be sleeping between the two of us. Not so bad, eh?