...There are times in the wee hours of the night, when I lay wide awake following the rotation of the ceiling fan, visible through the faint streetlight seeping in through the window. These are times when something inside feels like its fleeting away. Like sand from between the fingers. These are memories of many a years since the day I learned to remember. Memories that are slipping away slowly with time. These are the times when i feel a weird objective swelling within me to keep something of these memories as the residual of all the times that brought me where I am today....

I am starting this blog as a biography of my life, as a gay youth who came out at an early stage and as a person who has experienced too many things in too little of a time...

I don't expect or desire any likability with my readers. My intent is to tell my story. If you like it honestly, then i sincerely thank you for understanding me.

Friday, June 28, 2013

3.2 Downward Spiral


Sex is very easy to find in a city like Delhi. I don’t know how the dynamic works here, since Delhi was definitely not a very evolved city compared to Kolkata when it came to perceptions on sexuality. Strangely for me, it was still a lot easier to avail sex whenever I desired. Delhi in the late nineties was still turning and tossing in the coffin of a residual shame culture. At least from my view point, it wasn’t exactly a very accepting environment to the idea of teenaged boys having sex with other boys. In my world, there was no Planet Romeo. There were no Prides. There were no Pegs and Pints. ‘Gay’ was still a legend juvenile public school boys would callously joke about. But somehow, I always thought that the sexual repression that I saw around me was probably the reason why it was so easy for me to practically seduce almost anyone capable of an erection with the simplest tools like exhibitionist nudity. I was fourteen and I already had a threesome. Only after I began to settle in to this new city that I realized how I had started to get comfortable in my sexuality with those two boys back in Delhi, which probably marked my passage into adulthood.

Kolkata surprisingly on other hand presented itself as a very non-sexual space for me. At least in the first year. I could feel all the radical sexual energy exist on a level different than mine. Television, media, culture – everything was pasted with this liberated embrace of sex, unapologetic of breaking any taboos or traditions. But it was beyond my reach. Perhaps there were several factors which prevented me from seeing any openings. The main one being I was new here. I still didn’t feel like I belonged here. Also the general psyche of the city is pretty sorted when it comes to sexuality. There seemed clear demarcations of what is sexual and what is not. Which is probably a good thing on a larger picture. Anything which is sexual, the world is their oyster. Anything is possible. From the most evolved understanding of human desires to the most perverse explorations of the unknown, everything was welcome. On other hand all those things that are not supposed to be sexual, are simply not. And gay sex with an underage boy was out of question. There were no blurry lines either. My old tricks didn’t work anymore. Even the slightest exhibitionist idea came with an intense fear or ridicule and backlash. Also I didn’t really have much of an opportunity as I had no friends or even acquaintances. And with mom suddenly turning stay-at-home there was no physical space either to construct any situations whatsoever.

It would be only many years later that I would come to terms with my massive sexual appetite. But back then, this phase was the time that plunged me into a pacing guilt trip over it for the first time. As the days of a pretend Bengali bourgeoisie passed, I kept craving for sex more and more. Porn was the only sexual outlet I could experience after walking down to cyber cafés, blocks away from the house. I started wandering into random isolated parks in the hope of finding anything. Even the idea of meeting a random stranger who would sexualize my presence even though I would eventually probably run away; was something I desperately wanted to experience just for the thrill of it. Sadly there was absolutely nothing but disappointment. Even more so, when I once got caught in one of those cyber cafés and was curtly asked to leave. Strangely the humiliation didn’t last very long. As I said, I was getting more and more invisible by now. I had stopped caring about what anyone thought. I had become very proficient in maintaining my anonymity and dwell in a parallel universe where all of this didn’t exist in the real world.

What I was concerned about was, why was I behaving this way. I felt like a nymphomaniac who just couldn’t get laid. While I was too busy cursing myself for this ‘madness’, I absolutely had no idea how my sexual craving was only a manifestation of so many a complex emotions my mind was experiencing but couldn’t compose in words. If I could go back in time, I would sit myself down and explain myself: ‘You are only 14. You just discovered sex. Sex with boys. Something you never talked about with anyone. All of this is just in the confines of your own head alone. For you sex is the only way you feel you could truly connect to other people right now. Sex is the only thing that makes you feel real and frees you from any pretense. The reason why you crave sex so much is actually because you were extremely lonely. And all you want is to feel real again. That’s all. There’s nothing to feel guilty about loneliness. It happens. You won’t be lonely forever.’

Before I knew it I had started to get homesick. It was this particular year that made me realize that Delhi will always be my home no matter wherever I be. I started to miss my friends. My somewhat recent recognition in school. My grandparents. My personal space and freedom spanning between 2pm to 5pm on weekdays. I had started to miss Piyush. I haplessly grabbed onto the single memory of that day when he had come over and we almost had sex, but we didn’t. I don’t what happened, but we had abruptly slowed down while making out and I just rested my head on his chest with one arm around his torso as his fingers stroked through my hair. And we just lay there, just like that, without saying a word for hours (Until we absolutely lost track of time as my mother returned from work and we sprang up scrambling to get dressed and let her in) Now I would just lie in my bed wide awake trying so hard to relive those hours and remember every single detail of his warm skin against my face as I tracked the rhythm of his chest. Longing is a word that doesn't do half the justice to what every nerve in my body would experience night after night.

I am 25 now. I have learned and experienced enough by now to be able to tell when I am feeling absolutely miserable. Once you realize you’re in misery, you can accept it and then figure out how to deal with it. But back then, I had no inkling of an idea that my first brush with a very personal misery of my own had just begun.

Blood Tastes Sweeter

The closest physical proximity to any sexual gratification was 80 kilometers away from Kolkata. I had been sleeping with my cousin since before I freaked myself out with my first orgasm. I was probably nine or ten. And it wasn’t even sex. Well, technically. A dear friend of mine defines sex as “If you cum in the presence of one or more persons who have consented to it, then its sex.” So by that parameter it wasn’t sex, as we didn’t even have pubic hair back then leave alone the ability to cum. It was just a pure pre-pubescent sensual exploration of each other’s speechless nudity within the four walls of an unsaid mutual secret; concealed beneath the pitch darkness of an overnight power failure. That night remains to be one of my most beautiful memories, as the sexual encounters with him that followed never really matched up to it. Over the next couple of years whenever we met, the occurrence of sex was just taken for granted. There was never an existential doubt about what we were doing. Sex became my relationship with him as we kept meeting after year-long intervals.

He was one of the exciting parts about moving to Kolkata. It looked more like a consolation prize that time. While with the boys back in Delhi we were still grappling with the existential questions of what we were doing (even though we never talked about it, I could sense the question forming a very definite shape in each one of our minds); my cousin comparatively was far more oblivious about any of this. We had gone past all doubts and questions in last five years without even talking about it and had managed to normalize sex to the extent that we were extremely confident in orchestrating our opportunities like matter of fact. Within the first two weeks we managed to celebrate my move to Kolkata with a sex crazed weekend. It was like a low budget amateur porn film inspired by more explicit versions of Mills & Boons, called Silhouette Desires (another discovery to be made much later) We fucked hard all night on my dad’s bed under the corny moonlight flooding in through the windows on the first night of Griho Probesh (My dad had claimed what would be my room later on as it had the least number of windows in the house which could be covered with bedsheets in the absence of curtains. The dark chambers had to be maintained at any given situation.) Next day we were pressed against the least visible location behind the water tank after cleaning up the terrace. There was a silent film version as well in the shower with some ludicrous excuse of some water shortage and the pressing need to save water by taking joint baths. Of course, he was the first one to figure out the taps on the water tank upstairs. And although we did do a shoddy job of deflecting the suggestion that my brother also join us, thankfully everyone was too busy to smell the fish lodged in our excuses (Pun unintended obviously, as the smell of fish is quite common there: Raw in the morning, Fried by mid-day.)

The euphoria over having sex with someone who I was so close to fizzled out sooner than a glass of aerated drink. Within a couple of months both our visits to either of our homes dropped to once a month or two. He had a life of his own. I was building mine. And it was a bit too taxing to take a harrowing two hour long local train ride just for sex. But even in the times we did manage to take a trip, sex drastically became very mechanical. That thrill was gone. And there was no emotion (Not that there was any to begin with). It became a mere physical need like taking a piss. What I realized was that the sex used to be so awesome because it used to happen once a year or two. Now waking up in the middle of the night to his nudges demanding me to turn and ‘relax’ felt more violative than exciting. He had started to objectify me more and more as all he had to do with me was to fuck me. Nothing else. The more demeaning the sex got the more I would hate myself for desiring it. Once his horny insistent demands resulted in an agonizing injury that lasted for days. When I confronted him about it all he had to say was "It happens." And I knew that was it for me. Eventually I started to actively avoid my cousin and constantly fish for excuses to not sleep in his room. I would rather get kicked out of cyber cafes than have to experience the same ordeal all over. Today when I look back, I would say he was indeed one of the hottest men I have had such intense time with initially. Tall, muscular and well-endowed. But back then, it had started to repulse me to the very core. For a while I couldn't even stand myself in the same room with him. I just wanted his existence out of my conscious mind.

As the Rose-Tinted Glasses Come Off

Distancing myself from my cousin fucked with my head even more. I would still desperately crave for sex, but now I would consequently scorn myself at the thought of how easily I could sleep with him and how revolting the idea itself was. Too much angsty self-loathing was on the plate. I got cranky, irritable and reclusive. I would spend my days in the back benches of the school, then inside the silence of my room and then wandering out on random streets until it got dark. Then I would watch television, have dinner and go to bed where I would cry until I fell asleep.

The only person from Delhi I was in touch with was my childhood best friend, Rohan. This was probably the only time we wrote letters to each other. Initially it was quite an exciting hobby to fill up the package with lots of random stuff like confetti, cutouts, candies etc. I guess the whole fad was inspired from VJ Shahnaz’s show on MTV. I hadn’t written a letter to him in quite some time. One night I was crying really hard as I couldn’t stop feeling suffocated. I just wanted to scream. Just for once I desperately wanted to talk about Piyush and how the idea of him had completely consumed my mind and acted as the only escapade from this so called 'Fresh Beginning'. So I got up in the middle of the night and wrote a long, intensely emotional letter to Rohan. I didn’t come out as I didn’t want to do that in a letter. But indirectly I wrote very emotionally about how I have a major secret to tell him and how it’s making me feel miserable and so on. I was crying the whole time. After writing four pages of it I realized I had stopped crying. I felt better. At least I could sleep now.

Next day when I returned from school, I realized mom wasn’t talking to me properly. I thought maybe she had another one of those fights with dad. I decided I didn’t want to engage with it right then so I carried on with my bath and all. While having lunch I realized the food she had cooked was awful. It was floating in oil with the oddest combination of spices I had ever tasted. (And my mom is a great cook) I just asked if something had happened. And she snapped at me with some really nasty taunt I don’t remember clearly (‘The day you stop freeloading you can comment on the food that you’re stuffing!’ or some shit like that). And she got up and stormed into the kitchen. I followed her immediately and was like what-the-fuck? (Wish I knew that phrase back then) And then she yells at me with teary eyes, “Are you in love with Rohan?”

My brain stopped functioning for a moment. It just couldn’t figure out what to process first: The acute invasion of my privacy, that not only did she snoop through my things but actually read the whole goddamned letter; or having to face the main issue that had been bothering me for months and prepare an answer to her question. What was I supposed to say? “No, I’m not in love with Rohan. But I have been fucking two guys for last two years and one of your nephews for last five”? “Oh and by the way, remember that day when it took unusually long to unlock the door and this random boy came out of the room and awkwardly left? I remember the angry question on your face that you never asked. And the answer is ‘Yes’! I WAS fucking him on your bed all afternoon. And he is probably the only person I want to be around right now and none of your emotional melodrama is going to make it any better!”

I should have probably said that. That was my window. But she hadn’t asked the question out of concern. The tears weren’t for me. I could see it in her eyes. The disgust. The shame. It was a question asked with an answer that was very evidently expected. If I came out then I could have probably explained everything. But at that point I just didn’t have the emotional strength to deal with what later on I would learn was ‘Homophobia’. My stint with that hatred that stung like a bitch for the first time.

I spent the next couple of extremely tormenting hours trying to convince her that I was not in love with Rohan. This was the first time I told her about how much I was hating Kolkata and how miserable I was. And that, I was missing Rohan because I had no friends at all. Then she went off on her own tirade over how she is not liking Kolkata either, how she had nothing to do here and how dad had become distanced and ego-maniacal. Next year, I would get bang in the middle of what was going on between my parents. But at this very moment, I was like ‘Sure, your fucked up marriage that you just can’t grow a pair of balls to get out of trumps everything else.’ I wish I had said that.


Honestly, what happened in the rest of the year I don’t even remember clearly. That whole year is a blank to me now. It’s like a surreal collage of random visual memories that are just put together and you’re supposed to see the whole composition in one go. Probably I had numbed myself out and stopped engaging with anything. It feels like an absolute daze or a high where you remember your eyes being open but you don’t remember any context whatsoever. Every daze breaks when you wake up from it. When some context catches your attention and you tell your brain to come out of its standby mode and process what’s going on. My wake-up moment came a year after we moved to Kolkata:

I had flunked ninth standard.


Monday, September 28, 2009

3.1 Slate Wiped Clean

Moving In

My eyes opened slowly. The remainder delusions of a dream still convinced me as if I was still in Delhi. And my eyes opened. The first thing I saw was the huge three panel window of my room sans the curtains, opening out to the balcony. And through that I could see the sky. Such a clear sky. With not a single trace of any cloud. Just clear blue with no visible depth. A new beginning. A fresh start. It's weird how over the years the usage of the term "A Fresh Start" relates to something better in our minds. But its not necessary. A fresh start could be anything- better or worse. I wish I had been aware of this fact back then. I look at the clock, it's bloody 5.00AM! I assumed it was nine already considering the brightness flooding in my room and here I was, the first one to wake up in a nakedly empty house. I heaved a sigh. I was in Kolkata.

It took me sometime to settle down the weird feeling beneath my chest: I wasn't in Delhi anymore. The air, the feel, the smell, the color. Yes, the color! After coming here I realized there was different color to Delhi, like tints in a photograph. Delhi is so yellowish. Not lemon yellow, but chrome yellow. Like the mustard fields. Kolkata is more green, like bottle green. Even the light back in Delhi felt more diffused. Here it was crystal clean as if shining directly upon us. It was just weird. Sounds clichéd, but I had to feel like an alien even though I knew the local language.

For next couple of months that followed, the time and effort was completely indulged in the upgradation of our lifestyle! We were not middle class anymore. We were upper middle class. Our furniture came in a couple of days later, nicely packed in cardboards and sacks. The flooring and tiling was done before they arrived. Afterwards there was a lot of addition to the furniture. Heavy expensive curtains. Lighting. Accessories. The first air conditioner and music system cum CD Player. And so on. Yes, we were upper middle class now.

The New School

The next on the list of tasks was me and my brother's admissions in school. Now this was the first minus point that we were going to experience in next one year. The system of schooling goes like this: The all India education board is NCERT till eighth standard and CBSE for ninth to twelfth standards with CBSE holding board examinations (Boards, in short) in classes tenth and twelfth. Now boards is a huge deal all over India, since it's a synchronized examination all over India. Delhi being the capital under the Central govt., most schools were generally CBSE. But the states have different state-wide education systems. Now in West Bengal, most schools were affiliated to ICSE (Like CBSE, but constricted to the state) And migrating from CBSE to ICSE is a strict no-no unofficially. You can migrate, but generally you are advised not to for sundry reasons. Now the few CBSE schools that we could apply to were obsessed with their performance in the boards. The more the number of students with 1st division and Distinction results in the boards, the better their reputation. And I had always been pretty average in my studies. My result always used to loom around 60% (2nd Division) and I never gave a horse's arse about it. So you can imagine the frustration my dad went through getting me an admission in ninth standard, one standard preceding the class tenth boards.

Now, another catch. The Bengali annual festival, the 5 day long Durga Puja takes place in the autumn around October. In Delhi, we get around a week long leave in school during this time. But since this was a Bengali state, the schools provide a month long leave for the festivities. It's basically our version of Christmas. So to compensate the time, in Kolkata you get a summer vacation of only one month in May as opposed to Delhi's two month long vacation in May and June. My whole point of explaining this difference was that, we moved to Kolkata in the end of June, so basically I had missed a whole month of schooling here. And while we were going through school to school for admissions, everywhere they said the same thing: The first terminal examination was just a week away and they were not willing to take a chance. After all the rounds, finally a school was ready to take me in, promising to exempt my first terminal results from my final result evaluation in the end of the year. But they asked me to appear for the exams just to keep my attendance compensated for the month of June that I missed schooling. And so I did, with a miserable performance. I got a humiliating 5 out of 100 in mathematics, considering the fact that I was generally good with math. But then there were just too many changes I was getting adjusted to, to let this failure affect me. This was Haryana Vidya Mandir. The longest nightmare of my whole life!

Me Against the World

The change with the most impact was the change of habitat. I agree for most of my life till then I had been a loner weirdo with not too many a friends. But this was different. It was like separate from my being. I just couldn't relate to my new environment. No matter how introverted I had been in my past, I could still feel my roots on a Delhi ground. But here I felt like a sapling, looking for a moist patch of mud to dig in new roots. This absolute alien like confusion had the biggest effect on my socializing skills. I wasn't so good at it anyway. I had just started making friends with people in the last two out of ten years I spent half of my days with. So I was an amateur at making friends. And this was a complete joke.

My first day at school wasn't pleasant at all. It was utterly horrid! Probashi Bangali is a term for Bengalis who don't reside in West Bengal. I think I always liked the term. It had a very cutesy sound to it. It was only after coming to the 'hometown' that I realized what it really meant. Probashi Bangali or PB's in short aren't quite welcome here. Or at least very initially. They are some outlandish creatures left to the mercy and jest of the pure-bred bongs (If there's anything like that) The fact that my spoken Bengali wasn't that strong was the first ring on the bull's eye. My accent had a mixture of English and Hindi twang to it. Topped by a scarcity of Bengali vocabulary, which till now could be easily replaced by Hindi or English ones, and still be acceptable. The moment I walked in the class I was greeted by the class teacher who seemed quite sweet and compassionate, ironically plunging me into a gravely erroneous assumption that all the other subject teachers would show such warmth and welcome. She asked me to introduce myself. This was the first time I had to introduce myself ever in my life after years of being completely invisible. I started with the accent that I couldn't help, the twang and the diction. I never knew anyone could stammer faster than Porky Pig. Well guess what? I got a new talent. By the end of the minute of my disastrous introduction of myself, I could see the smirks, hear the giggles and feel the joke so acutely on me. That was the sign. I was in a rut!

The students picked on me. The teachers picked on me. Even the juniors picked on me. This was the time I really understood the meaning of the term 'loser'. My performance in academics kept sinking faster than Titanic. I was one of the back bencher no-gooders within a couple of months. I hated the school and it's army like obsession with discipline. Every morning after the assembly I would be making rounds of the basketball court as punishment because of the tiniest of reasons: Shoes not polished, One crease on the shirt that missed ironing, not carrying the diary to school to read the morning prayers, not singing morning prayers, even one nail uncut. The feeling of embarrassment for a 14 year old running round and round the court was numbed out by the disadvantage of being a loser. Losers are not allowed to be embarrassed. They are an embarrassment themselves. At least that's what I was reduced down to here. Imagine the circle of life. After seven long years of an invisible existence, my identity had just started to bounce some light so that people wouldn't see through me anymore. And within seconds I was transparent again. Right through me.

The Smiley Wallpaper

All the starry eyed dreams my parents wove on moving to Kolkata started to wear out down to their true nature of how forced and fake they were. The whole idea of a good life, was just a pretence, so that this massively expensive- not just monetary, but physical as well as emotional effort to start everything new at least appeared beautiful. The reality was the infected pus of fifteen years of their marriage was still reeking in ignorance underneath this glorious façade. No one would speak about it, but it was there staring at us like some dormant fiend caged within a house. It stared at us day and night. And we would just pretend it wasn't there.

My mother was all too excited initially, to assume her new role as a housewife. All her life, she was a working woman. And now, she froze her job back in Delhi and moved here on an extensively long unpaid leave. Although she was quite pleased with a relaxed and easy lifestyle at first, slowly this decision would turn it's true colors...

My brother was admitted in the same school. Suddenly the whole meaning of his education had taken a U-Turn. He was just a seven year old kid who loved to play and have fun like any other kid. And here he was studying and writing pages and pages of thesis like homeworks. His syllabi were so stupendously vast that all he did was study like some obsessed youth studying for engineering entrance. The worst part was he didn't even like to study. So it was all on my mom to sit with him until 2AM almost every night trying to get his homework done. And lets not even talk about the times during his exams. Just know, that it was during this time, that she got her blood pressure back and he got corns on his finger from writing with a pencil continuously for hours at a stretch. A seven year old, with corns on his finger because of writing. Imagine.

Dad, on other hand was completely oblivious to all of this. He was a bank manager now. And since where he worked was a small branch, his position was equivalent to that of a branch manager. So from being a clerk, it was a seriously big leap for him. And so was it for his ego. Now he was too big to care about all the petty little household issues. What he did care about was to show off his well off family of four to the world. And when no one would be watching, he would detach himself to his room. His room was like the king's layer in the palace. No one entered it unnecessarily. And he never stayed outside it unnecessarily. I never shared any closeness with him that I would feel the need to go to his room, sit in front of him and tell him about the hard time I was facing in school. I never shared any of my problems with him. Well, I never shared anything at all with him. And fourteen years later, we both were at different places to make such emotional alterations now. Same went for mom. As far as I remember, mom and dad never shared any closeness either. They never had a romantic chat. They never flirted. They never talked about their feelings. I doubt it if they ever touched each other in the later part of their marriage. And how do I know that? Because me and my brother were always between them and their relationship. I was closer to mom, so all her verbal requirements were limited to me. My brother was closer to dad, so all his emotional closeness was fulfilled by him. So we were always the greater priority compared to the other one as a spouse. We never wanted to do so willingly, but they put us there in between deliberately. Like some shield. I wonder what they were trying to guard themselves from. Falling in love?

So there it was. A new start heading towards a stand still. Like a car that starts with a promising noise and breaks down in the middle of the road ten minutes later. Kolkata in reality wasn't suiting any of us. But we pasted that plastic smile and held on, hoping that things would turn for the better. But none of us had any idea, when.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

3.0 Kolkata

Ever seen a corn seed dropped into a pan of oil and lit upon a stove. (Isn't such a wise thing to do really) It lets out some threatening but miniscule bubbles and then- Pop! A white flowery shaped element of leisure breaks open. Kolkata is just like that. First you'll hate her. But then you would hate to love her. Any bengali, born and brought up in a metropolitan other than Kolkata, would cry at least once after his or her whole life has been suddenly moved to this City of Joy. But those tears are only a sign for the upcoming guffaw of enjoyment that has never been experienced before. That is Kolkata. It's the dingy rainforest of green algae that eventually grows on you like it does on most things by the end of monsoons. I can't ever possibly comprehend the magnitude of this city's aura in words. I just can't. There are some things that are just meant to be enlivened and experienced.

Even I had the worst culture shock of my whole life. You may wonder, how can I get a culture shock moving to the city of my own culture. Even I asked myself that many a times. There were just too many a things to hate. One thing that still haunts me is the climate. Oh Dear! The Humidity. You never need to take a bath there if you brainwash your mind to replace sweat with water. Specially for the people born and adapted to drier northern climate it's a hell. Literally! You always need a ceiling fan rotating over your head with it's grease deficient mechanical rhythm. Otherwise, love the fact that you will be drenched without rain. Even in winters you are constantly sweating ironically underneath those layers of sweaters which you have to haplessly put on thanks to your overprotective mothers. And then the people. You will always be an outsider even if your fourteen lives belong to the bongs unless you perfect the style of speaking the correct bengali. Honestly, even I don't really know what is that style. It just comes to you with enough time spend amongst the populi. Lots of groupism, lots of politics, lots of backbiting, lots of P.N.P.C (Paro Ninda Paro Charcha: Criticizing others, Discussing others) And even lots of dadagiri.

And the list goes on and on. And it will keep going on until you choose to enlisten the bad aspects. But for once if you just close your eyes and lift the pen up from the list and breathe. For once if you just stop and cease to keep yourself so busy hating your new life and just breathe. You'll smell the fragrant and holy smell of dhuno burning in front of some faded framed photo of Goddess Kali, the smoke breezing away along the southern winds filtering through the swirling leaves of the next gigantic coconut tree and reaching you. It's that fragrance that breaks you free. It's that enlightenment that opens your eyes. It's that feeling that makes you realize. That you're home. Where you belong…

Monday, May 26, 2008

2.5 Ninety Days

Nelly Furtado sung a very meaningful song. All Good Things Come To an End. Not many people recognized it as they were busy going gaga over her Promiscuity. She gave the sluts a literary mode of respect. Or at least I feel so for myself. The fad of promiscuity faded away, but over the time the song lingers in my head. That was a phase indeed when I realized that all good things do come to an end. They have to. Otherwise they would cease to be so good. I wish I had stumbled upon this great truth of life much earlier, then I would have at least spent a precious few moments bidding goodbye. We take life for granted and drive along way over the speed limit. But sometimes we forget some roads are just left behind. You can never return to them and instead of a drive, take a walk and cherish the view. We forget to cherish those views as all we see is the road ahead…

All this while I have been typing my life. My life may have been clouded with miseries to a great extent. But it's not all that bad. Right at the moment, it looks bad. But five or ten years ahead when you look back, you would say 'It wasn't that bad after all' No one's life is a complete misery. You have good moments in equal amounts. That's why you can tell which are the bad ones. Just that the bad moments are so intense and overwhelming, we forget to cherish the good ones. And we pump up the accelerator while the pin shifts from sixty to eighty and do our best to escape the bad moments. But the view is never going to be the same ever again.

Like I said nothing was ever normal in my life. Everything had to have a twist. But some of them were actually benefitial in a way. I was the first born in my maternal family. My aunt was the only sister of my mom, and she was unmarried, living with my grandparents back then. My grandfather was serving the government at a good post while my grandmother was a homemaker, and she did much more than just make the home. Dad was in banking, mom too was serving a government job. Three years, three months and three weeks after their marriage, I was born (amidst a lot of fiasco already brewing over). I don't exactly know the details, but for some reason it was hard for my parents to bring an infant in the house where both were working parents. So my grandmother offered to take care of me (or they asked her to, I don't know). And so there I was, the very first two years of my life growing in the lovable palms of my granny. Mom Dad used to come over on weekends to stay over and spend time with me. But my granny did all the major job of initial babycare. I was the first son of the family!

In Bengali, we call granny didima, in short 'Dida'. And grandpa, 'Dadu'. We call maternal aunt, Maashi. But even I don't have the vaguest clue why I have always called her 'Maany'. Learning these three words were probably the most valuable thing I ever did, as they are the three words that will always remain the closest to my heart, obviously after mom and dad. Dida, as I tease her today, had she been a top notch businesswoman, she would have surely been the real Miranda Priestley. She has always had a calm ferocity to her. As a homemaker, she always reminds me of Bree Van D'Camp (read: Monica Geller, for those who are not into Desperate Housewives) The only thing is that Indian women don't get so much freedom compared to the women in the west. I'm not talking about freedom from the side of the family. Dadu let her take the whole responsibility of the household, he knew it wasn't his forte, neither his place to say anything. The freedom I'm talking about is a composite one, that reflects from the society, relatives, friends, issues, yadda yadda. So I would say, she loses just by a point to them. Why? She was never obsessive compulsive as them, she can let things go in extreme emergencies like times when someone's broken an arm and fractured four tendons. But that would be a once in a blue moon things. The other white moon or no moon nights, well, she would be herself. She is organized. A little way too organized. Everything that she thinks is right, has to be right. If she has to dust the whole house every morning as a routine she will do it even in 104 degree fever. Or worst come worst, there's always Dadu. If anything is not according to her plans she would have sleepless nights. Her hyperenergetic superwoman image is a matter of awe for everyone, but at the same time very exhausting. In the day and age of free home delivery, its hard to keep up with her pace at times. Funny, we are constantly rushing in the rat race and we still can't keep up with her pace. That's why mom always shirks away from her, now that she has gotten accustomed to her modern day life of washing machines. Maany is a Leonine, so she's always bumbling with energy. The thing is,she may do the things, but her way of doing the things isn't exactly what is Dida's definition. Dida does everything right, but even the way of doing it has to be right. That is apparently the reason why these three mother and daughters keep squabbling time and again. But their squabbles aren't mean ones. They love each other to death. I still remember when Maany walked out and went back to her home after she had a nasty quarrel with Dida. The reason was that she broke Dida's lemon squeezer. Don't roll your eyes, I have always envied their relationship. It's more like a hate to love thing between them. They can't live with each other neither without. So I get the tales of my Dida's propriety affecting mom's and Maany's childhoods, in both good and bad ways. The good ones are when they are reminiscinzing the good ol' days. And the bad ones are when they squabble.

Dadu was a very different man since forever. He has always been a man of honor. He has always been ethically correct. And in worst of situation he has at the most tried his best to do so. If he is just not able to do the correct thing, he would simply stay silent. But he would never do something that is ethically wrong. He was an ex Air Force –man. So as I hear he was a very aggressive man in his youth. But a very affectionate father too. As much as my mom and Maany feared him, they loved him to the core of their heart. But what I have seen of him has mostly been the latter stage of his personality. They say his anger has cooled down to a great extent over the years. Now he's a very calm and cool person. And he seldom displays emotions (What is with all defense people? Do they teach them that emotions are something too sinuous?) But one thing. Of all the aggression and ego, he was a ladies' man. Let me correct that, he was a lady's man. And that lady was Dida, has always been and will ever be. He just can't say no to her. Although they fight half the time like cats and dogs, but ask him to stay for more than a day without her and he would turn into this restless five your old dropped at school on the first day. Like even a day consists twenty four hours, for Heaven's sake! So Dida found the most apt companion who let her propriety of good housekeeping flourish to its best. And pobably that's why they are famous for their coupling in the whole clan.

But here was the cherry to the topping: I being the first son (read it more like, Sun) not just of my family but of the preceding generation too, I was their favorite. Can't stop grinning at the mean fact that I still am although no one would agree to it in fear of hurting my brother and my cousin! But the truth is, I'll always be. So, of all people, I was probably the very first human being who was exempted from Dida's lifestyle. Not completely though, but she made it a point of taking care of everything possible. Although we did spend all mornings with her screaming at me to brush my teeth or take a bath. Still, that was the only place I really cherished my true childhood. But that comes much later. The first two year of my life was obviously something I wouldn't remember. As I hear the tales, I was the apple of everyone's eyes. Dida gave me the pet name, Raja, which means the king in most Indian languages. Even today people taunt me with that for my seemingly lavish ways (which are not, honestly). Two years went by. Dad purchased a flat in Noida. It was time for me to move in to my real family. Or like I said the term 'family'. This was the ironic part. Children start remembering things from the age of two or three. I wish I stayed with Dida-Dadu till much longer. Why I say so, is that it really pains my heart when I try to recall something of my first two years but to no use. The earliest I remember was when Maany's son, my cousin was born. Here was the element of irony. Dida Dadu had been living in their government flat allotted to Dadu from work. This was where I spent the two years. After I left, Dadu retired and they purchased a house in East Delhi. So when after my cousin's birth, I went to their new house with mom for the first time, I just couldn't remember anything as the whole environment had changed. Everything was new to me. I couldn't even relate to Dida. I still feel guilty when I think of it. But then, it would get compensated in the years to come. Rather the fact that we rebuilt our unique relation over the next few of years was even more valuable.

As I grew up I started to understand things. I was now able to perceive, receive and execute (my definition of how we relate to things external to us: P.R.E. And don't you dare call me a nerd) I wrote a whole chapter how my childhood was in general. But here was the good part: Every summer vacation I was exclusively sent to spend the whole summer at Dida-Dadu's place. Those one and a half month of summer vacations were the bestest time of my life (I know the grammatical error, it's intentional) I would desperately wait half of the year for this time, and sulk the other half after I would return back home. This was the time when I got to be a child for a change. Free from all worries and hatred. No responsibilities (for the most of it, that is) No one expected me to grow up beyond my age. No one expected me to take care of myself during my parent's absence. I spend half my life in daycares. And I swear those were the weirdest time of my life. I was like a robot. Living life the way I was told to. Dida's place was my heavenly abode! I was sooo pampered there (Yes, this one's intentional too!) Back home every morning, dad would wake me up and shove the toothbrush (with paste applied) in my hand so that I would start brushing my teeth and get ready for school. Mom generally got up later on to prepare my lunch. The only good morning I remember waking up there, was once when I woke up and found mom cuddling and caressing me and telling me in her sweetest way that it was time for school. I still wonder what came upon her that morning. Anyway, once the vacations were on, the first thing it meant was getting up late! I don't know how many feel so, but getting up late is one of the greatest luxuries of life which just anyone can afford if he or she wants to. And getting up was fun at Dida's place. Early morning she would be cooking and post 11AM, in the breaks she would come and purr and pamper me to get up for breakfast. And in the meanwhile Dadu always had this naughty Gemini streak in him. He would sneak upon me and pull my toes until the bones would crackle! And I hated that the most, so I would break out into a loud scream, 'Dida! Dekho Dadu ki korchhe!!!' (Dida! Look what Dadu's doing!!!) And she would scold him to leave me alone.

I shared a very love to hate relation with Dadu. The only way we would express our affection for each other was by picking on each other. But he was the one, who would start everytime. I only never missed an opportunity to complain to Dida and get him a good scolding. This kind of feisty connection held for many years until one day I realised that I was taking him for granted and missing out on a lot of precious little moments in the mean time. He was a much deeper person otherwise. Very knowledged and talented. Later on as I grew up, I cherished a lot of meaningful moments knowing him better.

There were lots of regularity here too. Dida was strict about timing. And I stuck to it. But not unwillingly (except for when she would make me sleep after lunch as I wasn't habituated to afternoon naps) The whole deal was that there was just too much love. Dida loved me more than anything. I was the son she had always wished for. She taught me most things. Like reading time. The introduction to written bengali. And the ninety days would be of a complete fiesta. Dida has always been a great cook. I have never tasted better food anywhere. So in that short time she would pour in her whole cuisine. Puddings. Bread Rolls. All kinds of bengali sweets (for those who know Patishapta, Bhaaper Doi, Paayesh so on…) And chicken and mutton preparations were in abundance. And all this she did on Dadu's mere pension. She would spend a lot of time playing with me, indulging in whatever I did. And even let me indulge in whatever she did, if I took any interest. I still remember she was an avid fan of the Doordarshan daytime soaps like Shanti, Swabhimaan etc… Every Friday she would treat me ice creams. That was a must. There were bad times too. Since I was so pampered and in the center of attention, this was the only place I could throw all the tantrums I wanted. But I wasn't all that bad. Just some times. Once she scolded me for something, and I ran away from home. I didn't return for four hours. The whole block had gotten into searching for me. When I finally arrived, and listened to the whole lecture process et al, I discovered that there were two Cornettoes in the freezer. It was Ice-cream Friday.

Over the next few years, things changed. Things changed back at home. I was emotionally volatile and weak. There was just too much hatred around. I didn't know exactly that the feeling was hatred. But the negativity had taken a toll. Also my brother was born around this time. So the whole attention was shifted to him. There was an added negativity of sheer lonliness. So of all people I really got attached to was Dida. The summer vacations in those years would be so precious to me that I actually made it a point to cherish each and every single moment of it. When the vacations would end, the worst part would be the departure. Two days before leaving for back home, I would be all in tears. Constantly crying all the time and pleading Dida to keep me with her. I know this sounds weird, but it was true. I was a little child deprived of love. So whatever love I did get in those ninety days, I desperately wanted to cling on to them. But it wouldn't be so in this case. I had to go back home. So she would bid goodbye to me with tearful eyes and I would cry all the way back. I would be crying for many following days after that. And when the whole thing would subdue, I would just silently do what I'm supposed to do like the same old robot. But the very same night after returning from Dida's place, I would dream that I'm still in their house. And the dream would be so convincing and joyous that I would wake up thinking Dadu is pulling at my toes again. But when my eyes open, to my dissapointment, I'm back home. Its not 11am, its 7am. And there's that toothbrush in my hand…


By the time I was 14 things had changed to a great extent. Rather everything had changed. Now I had a very personal life. A fake girlfriend. A closet boyfriend. A class popularity. Half the responsibility of the household chores. Mom was different now. After my brother had grown up to a point where he didn't require constant attention of an infant, her affection returned to me. Now she treated both of us equally. She had changed a lot in her own life too. Dad wasn't there, so there were no more quarrels. Life was completely different. But in this difference, one thing I didn't realize then was that my attention towards Dida-Dadu had depreciated to a great extent. I wouldn't even spent my vacations there anymore (for obvious reasons) I would just go there time and again for a day or two and come back. I was just too caught up in the newfound life I had recently discovered, that I just didn't reminiscize the good ol' days of mine. I was speeding up the road ahead. I had taken these views for granted. I thought the views would be here for forever, I'll cherish them later on. I wish I had pulled the brakes just once and looked around.

There was an another change after dad left. My brother was very attached to him from the very beginning. After dad left, he went into depression (or so what mom said) I don't know whether it was depression, but yes he changed to a great extent. This was the first time he was away from Dad for such a long time. And it took a toll on him. He stopped playing with his friends in the evening. He would just sit in front the TV all the time oggling Cartoon Network. He stopped talking. He stopped smiling. He wouldn't take interests in things anymore. He was all cranky and irritable all the time, snapping at everyone around and throwing tantrums. All this, while he was just six years old. Mom couldn't obviously take this condition. She started to constantly blame herself for all this. It was until then that her guilt took her to the greatest depths that she decided to resurrect things.

Dad in the meanwhile worked really hard and got a promotion. I don't exactly rememeber the details, but he spent a lot of time in Kolkata and then he was back in Delhi. This was the time when mom's guilt struck her. One evening we were simply sitting in the living room and my brother watching TV in the other room. We were discussing about him and his emotional health. After a long worried conversation about his emotional health, she said she had been pondering over this. She asked me, 'Should I call Dad back home?' What was I supposed to answer? There was no man in the house. Since the age of seven, when my brother was born everyone expected me to be the mature one, since I'm older. Even now I was expected to be the mature one. Instead of thinking about myself, I was supposed to think of everyone else. So I said 'Yes'. In the times to come when this decision would backlash, mom would blame me for saying 'yes'. She would say, 'It was YOU who said "Yes"!' No one can hardly imagine the amount of frustration I felt then. But what could I do? I did say 'Yes', didn't I?

After that, its hard for me to keep a track of what all happened. Everything happened at such a speed of light I just didn't know where to look and where to speak. Dad returned. They decided to start a 'New Life' in Kolkata. Everything was planned. We were going to Kolkata. Moving there. Forever. It happened so fast in a span of two months, I missed out on a lot of things I should have done. Fourteen years of spreading the roots in a land, suddenly your life is uprooted and placed at a completely new place. And that even in two months. I did a lot of errors. The biggest one was that I forgot to bid farewell to Piyush. I was so carried away by the whole idea of 'New Life', that I actually ended up betraying my old life. Being gay had always been a question mark for me, even though I had absorbed it into my life so easily. I thought, maybe starting life afresh, will be a good oppurtunity to turn straight and start a 'New Life'. My worst decision was to shun the old life right away. I simply prepared myself for Kolkata now. I just wanted to go there as soon as possible. I didn't meet my friends at school. I didn't meet my teachers. And I didn't even meet Piyush. Today I feel so low and shallow whenever I think of what I did. Maybe he didn't feel so intensely about this, but I do feel I betrayed him in an aspect. I should have had at least met him once and said goodbye.

Everything was packed. Everyone was packed. All the formalities were done. One by one the tasks kept getting ticked off the list. Rail reservations were done. All the furniture was packed and trucked off. Finally the day arrived. The night before I decided to call everyone. Dida, Dadu and Maany would be anyway coming the next day to the station to bid us goodbye. Still, I had to call them once. Our phone was disconnected. So I had to go to the market to call from the booth. I called Dida. I could tell from her voice that she wasn't really glad of having half of her extended family living in an unreachable position. I called for Dadu. He said a couple of formal words like 'So you're leaving… All the best' and stuff like that and then suddenly I heard a weird noise and heard the reciever of the phone from the other side slam to something. Dida picked up. She was crying. She said, Dadu broke into tears. He was crying and couldn't control himself so he left the room. An ex Air Force-man, whom I never witnessed ever display any kind of emotion, was crying. And just then everything came to a screeching halt. I hit the the brakes. But it was too late. Suddenly everything started flooding into my head like the dam was broken. The dam that I had put up against all practicality. I asked myself, "What am I doing?". A strange intuition pierced through all rationality. Something was screaming inside me. It was begging and pleading me not to leave Delhi and go to Kolkata permanently. But it was too late. It was over. The road had come to an end. The views were gone. And I couldn't go back. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't. I was standing in front of a completely new road. All this while I couldn't wait to hop on to this new road and start it afresh. But now, the gates were open and the road was mine. But I was standing there. Thinking about those ninety days of summer vacation. After a really long time I felt the same kind of helplessness I used to feel in those last two days at Dida's place. I never wanted to come back home, but I had to everytime. And now, it seemed like the Ninety Days of my life was coming to an end. And I don't want to step on to the new road. But I have to. So I take a deep breathe. And here we go.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

2.4 That 'L' Word

Its Spring again. The freezing winters have receded and the scorching summer is yet to visit the extreme climate of Delhi. But delhiites are right in the middle of it. Its spring. And everyone’s going crazy. Crazy about what? Duh! That ‘L’ word. Isn’t it Valentine’s this month? Oh yes. The celebration of ‘Love’. Everywhere, every single minute you face this mushy-cheesy-corny thing called love. Sometimes it get’s just too much. Like half the birthday cake which you had to finish as no one else took a second helping because it was too sweet. Yes Love is sweet. But is it just me or is it a normal thing that with too much sweet you feel like throwing up. Seriously. Sometimes this constant chanting about love and everything related gets so excessive you just feel like bawling out in exasperation and storm out to some jungle or something. But to no use. Even there you would probably find a bunch of deers mating. Never mind. And the world keeps on chanting about love. Love makes the world go round. Love is in the air. Love is blind. Blah Blah Blah…

But what about those who are yet to find love? Let’s make it simpler. What about those who don’t even understand yet what exactly is this love and what is all this brouhaha all about? Well, I was one of them. The unloved ones. The Love-illiterates who would just gaze at the macho guys in the class flirting around with every single girl in front of them and the pretty little girls who would try so hard to be the perfect bitches to these boys. And I would simply remain silent as I never really understood what was this all about. I was in eighth standard then, and in public schools like mine eighth standard meant first year of college. Most of the students had reached puberty by now and were obviously going dizzy with their raging hormones. But more than that it was the influence of a far more significant hormone: Peer Pressure. I just didn’t understand why, simply why, was having a girlfriend or a boyfriend was such a mandatory thing. And if not that, then at least a crush on some guy or a girl probably from the neighboring class was the passport to the teen society. You can’t be human if you haven’t fallen in love. Maybe I’m exaggerating too much. Maybe it’s just a frustration that till date, now that I am in college, this phenomena still exists. You gotta have love in your life to be famous. Not that anyone executes you for your single status. But no one hardly remembers the names of all the single guys in the class. Girls have it easier. The more single they are the more are they the apple of all the boys’ eyes, provided they’re not total behenji’s. So what was I supposed to do now? Here I was making out with an another guy who was already famous as one of the Casanovas while I slowly was gaining popularity as one of the bad asses. Now getting hitched was the only pit stop to the ultimate promotion: “The Cool Kids” And for that I needed a girlfriend.

Life is never black and white. You can never classify it any two extreme categories. There are just too many things in between. Even a black and white picture (which is not actually black and white, as the technical term is ‘grayscale’ for it doesn’t just contain black or white as its constituents) generally contains 256 shades of gray! And its just a two dimensional representation of a fragment of a moment from the never ending three-dimensional life (I know, it does end. But when you’re in a total soup, you feel like you’re stuck in this for eternity) So imagine in life itself, not everything can be just right or just wrong. There are definitely a million shades of “Don’t Know’s” in there. Yes. Sometimes when you don’t know whether if it is right or wrong, you simply say “Uh! I don’t know” But still you got to do something. So you do something that feels right at that moment. Maybe ten years later you’ll regret that action, but right then and there itself it feels simply right. So you gleefully plunge into the whether-wrong-or-right situation, just the way you gleefully jumped up to pose for the black and white picture when you were three, oblivious of the fact that you were in your not-so-dry diapers. So there I was, in a complete soup. And then there was a girl in my block, Jahnvi. We had been childhood friends for long. You can say we grew up together. But I won’t say we were so close. Because any girl who would be a close friend of mine would without deciding about my sexual affiliation, decide that I am too much of a bitch to be taken as a boyfriend and rather more fun as a pajama pal (Yeah, girls are that intelligent. Accept it. So if she’s not giving any ghaas to you that probably means she’s not that into you. Accept it!) But Jahnvi was somewhere between a close friend and a general acquaintance. I can’t quite describe our relation till then as I have not much to write about. She wasn’t really reserve or introvert as such, but I knew she held a lot back within herself. She seemed so happy all the time, but I knew there was a cloud of melancholy hovering upon her. She was very sure of what she wanted in life, but she was clueless about who she was. And I for once, am just not able to open up myself so easy to such dual personality. But in her case, there was an element of empathy in my heart for her. She lived with her cousin, as her parents were down in Goa. We hung out along with other friends and we made quite a circle when all of us would be together. And she was into craft and I was into art. So generally many a times her beads and sequins would require my touch of brushes and my greeting cards would require her efficiency in Sparkles and glitters. So we used to generally hang out at her place, swimming in a glittering sea of what her cousin used to joke as trash. It was Christmas season. I was helping her with cards when she popped the question. No, not the question of marriage. “You got a girlfriend?” My answer was obviously ‘No’ as being gay I naturally didn’t understand her flirting with me right away, leave alone responding to it and apart from that she was a good friend of mine. Then she asked how would I react if someone confessed that she liked me.

‘I don’t know.’

‘ Come on, Do you or do you not need love in your life?’

That was the moment when I realized where the conversation was heading. Amidst a total air of awkwardness, I just stared blankly at her. Even my mind was blank.

‘What if I said I like you?’

It was a long pause. As if the time had stopped and my whole body was numb. No, not out of excitement, out of complete dumbfoundedness. I just didn’t know what to do. How to react. What to say. She brought the whole moment to an end with a kiss. Yes, that was my first kiss with a girl ever. And I didn’t feel a thing.

I guess our human brain has an auto-shutdown system. When it gets overloaded, it shuts-down and your brain functions on a standby mode, void of any logic or reason (Probably that’s why most geniuses go cuckoo) Maybe that was an auto-shutdown period for me that followed, for that whole period is such a blur to me now. Or maybe it was the shallowest thing that I had ever done in my whole life which was so against my Capricornian ethics that I tried so hard to erase them afterwards. What basically happened was, I agreed into that ‘relationship’. So we were officially Girlfriend-Boyfriend. I know it sounds too corny but it was the coolest thing back then (or maybe it still is, considering my brother’s obsession with that perfect hairstyle while he’s just 13 right now). And what all followed was too low for my fingers to end up in spasms from hitting the keyboard. I publicized my relationship well. Everyone at school knew that I now finally had a girlfriend. The boys were curious about it. The girls teased about it. And I was just heading where I wanted to. But the auto-shutdown period had to end with my senses switching back on.

On other fronts, things weren’t quite general as such. In last couple of years my parents had been rehearsing ‘The Break Up Showdown’ They broke up a couple of times only to get back together the next day or even the same day. And the showdowns that would happen everytime seemed too similar to be not thought of as being staged (They were not, but it seemed too Bollywood to be true). The sequence went something like this: they would break into a fight, dad would say something chauvinistic, mom would shoot an acidic retort that would hit the bull’s eye- his ego, he would throw tantrums and start packing his stuff and threaten to leave the house, there would be another round of heated argument over his leaving itself, so mom would snap something even harsher and he would dramatically storm out with his bundles and mom would look at me with that look that said ‘It’s finally over’. The finality of this saga happened so many times now that I simply gave up the hope that it will ever be final at all. So this time when it happened again, I was like ‘Yeah, Whatever’ But it did. He left. Me, my mom, and my brother were left alone in that house now. Not that I missed him really as I was never really close to him for the most undiplomatic thing I did by openly taking mom’s side everytime, unlike my brother. But yes, when a family member leaves you, it changes each one of the family members’ lives. Half of the household chores fell upon my responsibility. Groceries, Bill payment, Escorting brother from daycares (he being six then), and a lot more stuff. I realized that if not emotional, physically dad’s presence had been after all beneficial for me. But since none of us were habituated to his absence, it was an another showdown for us. Only that this showdown was a tad bit too prolonged. Somehow we were managing. Just when my life was about to change with a sudden discovery.

On my personal front, my physical foreplay kept playing on and on time and again. It had been such a regular thing by now that it stopped being solely sexual in nature. It started to affect me in other facets too. I started to question myself “Why am I only attracted to a guy?”, “Why don’t I feel like kissing Jahnvi again? And why do I feel guilty about the last time?”, “Am I abnormal?”. The last question on my normalcy was the most tormenting one that kept swirling in my mind all the time. But still, I took it in my stride. My life till now hadn’t been normal enough. So this abnormalcy shouldn’t hit me as a surprise. Maybe I am abnormal. Maybe I have a psychological disorder. Maybe I am the only one. So I won’t tell anyone. Let things be the way they are for now. I’ll see what to do in future. But one thing for sure, I may have done a heinous thing by stepping into a ‘love affair’ that didn’t even exist, I surely wasn’t going to play along for long. I had decided. I maybe abnormal, but I’m definitely not going to ruin a woman’s life by marrying her. This was the last straw of integrity I could preserve from burning down. I started telling my parents and relatives, that I’m never getting married because I had no interest in it. Everyone took me lightly. Everyone thought that I’m a kid scarred by the memories of his parent’s bad marriage, so it would be obvious that he refutes ever getting married. He will come around when he grows up. Today I don’t know if I have grown up, but seven years later my grandmother (one of the very few people I haven’t still come out to yet and don’t plan to either) has finally come to terms with the fact that she has to leave this world without cherishing the joy of witnessing her favorite grandson’s wedding and welcoming her eldest grand-daughter-in-law. Tears swell up my eye right now, thinking of the fact that I can’t fulfill the only wish she ever had from me throughout. It breaks my heart to see the disappointment in her eyes when she speaks about her grand-children growing up and getting married in near future. She just looks at me and says nothing. It was only because seven years ago I had announced my decision to renounce the prospect of me ever getting married. And like then, even today I am left with no option but to endure the immense pain my chest feels when I think of this- the only reason that makes me wish… had I been straight.

Soon after leaving home, dad got a promotion and got himself transferred to Kolkata. Before leaving he bought me an Oxford Concise Dictionary. Till then I grew up on a laughable pocket dictionary. It’s not really odd, many people do so. Mom’s grasp on the Hindi language was professional, in addition to that she had been working in a government office, all the more usage of Hindi. Whatever limited requirements of English she had, the pocket pal served it. So this was my very first concise dictionary. I have a weird habit. I like flipping along the pages of a dictionary and read the meanings of unknown words that looked pretty gorgeous to me. Like for instance, ‘Quintessence’ and stuff like that. You might think I’m such a nerd, but thanks to such geeky habits I’m able to burden this mankind with my gigantic writings. So one evening, I was flipping through the cherished dictionary; (The following details are from an old diary entry I preserved for so long) Foolscap. Foreknowledge. Frontage. Galvanize. Garter. Gazebo. And my eye ran over a preceding word, Gay- 1. Homosexual 2. Careless and worry free person 3. Happy, cheerful. So I obviously looked up the more unfamiliar one: ‘Homosexual’. And Bang! I gasped in elation and amazement. The first thing that filled my head was pride. Pride and that’s it. What I understood was that I was not alone. I was not even merely alone. Even my so called ‘abnormal’ condition is stated in the dictionary and it has a much more non-scientific synonym, I’m definitely not alone. I was filled with pride to be a part of a such a great majority. At that point of time my joy didn’t even consider the fact that the gay community is perceived as a minority. For right at that moment, I didn’t even know that there’s something called a ‘Gay Community’. All I could think of was just the word ‘Gay’ and the fact that it was important enough to be in the dictionary. Till night I just kept smiling. Mom even asked me why was I so unusually happy that day. I obviously had no explanation, but all I could think of was “I am GAY!” and was so proud about it. I must have been the lone case who had been so glad at coming to know that he is gay. After all it was completely different way around for me. Although I had accepted my abnormalcy very conveniently, the obvious apprehensions would constantly replay a haunting music in the back of my head. But I would force myself to accept my situation and move on, trying hard not to pay attention to that music. But now, being something off the dictionary was so much better than being a nameless abnormalcy. The fact that I was not alone relieved me of so many worries. I had so many hopes now, so many wishes, I started dreaming. Even though I didn’t really know why was I being so hopeful, I was just plain happy at not being the only one who was different from everyone around.

Over the next few months there was a great change in me. My self esteem had been on a see-saw with my social life being ‘cool’ and ‘popular’ and my personal life trying to embrace an ‘abnormalcy’. Now, the slab was suspended right in the middle. My low self-esteem got a kickstart. I somehow stopped thinking of myself as abnormal, or different or inferior. Probably that’s why I started developing mutual contentions with my first ‘boyfriend’ (rather as these days they call it: Fuck Buddy) You might wonder why was I feeling so alone at thinking I was abnormal when he too was equally indulged in this with me. Well as I said earlier, life isn’t just black or white. Its way more complicated. He had made it clear that he was interested in girls. Sex was just a matter of fun for him. He didn’t even consider it sex as such. Slowly over the time I could feel that the intensity with which we plunged into this had been slowly diminishing. We were just doing this to tame our carnal cats that would bare their teeth time to time. But after this major self-realization, I started waking up to my dignity. I would just not be hurt, but rather infuriated at the fact that I was being used like some sex toy. Sex was no more fun. I sometimes argued with him. I stopped calling him over, and often I refused his calls. On other hand, the obvious had to happen. My so called relationship with Jahnvi too was amidst a storm. She started to get emotional. And more dependent on me. She was going through some personal crisis of her own. And how I wished if we could just remain friends, I would have been able to comfort her so much better. But the sort of solace and consolation she desired from me start affecting my peace as I was just not able to provide her with that. But in spite of all of this mess. I slowly started standing up. Standing up to myself. I decided that I had to end my relation with Jahnvi. And I had to say ‘No’ to him. Maybe it wasn’t such a great plan yet, but at least I was thinking now in the right direction. The discovery acted like the jolt that turned the switch to my senses back on.

The autumn was here. The springtime leaves turned orange and descended on the face of earth. I was having constant fights with Jahnvi. We wouldn’t talk most of the time. And on other hand, although I kept making out with him, the frequency was low- only when my cat would start purring time and again. But then, I met this guy Piyush. He was in my school and lived in the block next to mine. He was a year junior to me. I knew him from some random introduction years ago between common friends. Recently we met again after the school would end and everyone would crowd at the back gate and for it to open up. He was a well built person. A few inches taller than me and athletic. And the best part about him was that he was decent and humble. There was this sense of ease around him. I liked chatting with him now and then. And so we became good friends. One such day while returning back together (My school was fifteen minutes walk from my place) something came over me and I invited him to my place. I knew why I did that for. And he accepted my invitation. We talked and talked for quite sometime at my place. And then, I did what was troubling me for so long. Yes I confess, I am guilty. Guilty, for seducing him. But all I did was seduce him. And he took the lead of the rest of the act. I just unlocked the door and he led me in. So yet again, no one can accuse me for molesting a minor or anything alike, as I was a minor myself then and apart from that he loved it. Yes, it was my first carnal pleasure of being gay. Because it wasn’t just physical. There was something more to it. I didn’t know what. But yes, it made me feel ecstatic. After that we hooked up quite a number of times. But on our second time, it was Piyush who stepped up to my doorstep.

Piyush made me feel like an air bubble. Whenever I would be with him I would feel so light as if completely afloat. There was this thing about him. His smile, his compassionate gaze, the delicate way he would hold me, his kiss… everything was so mushy. I felt like kissing him all the time. Even when he wouldn’t be there. Oh my god. Was I in Love? Yes, I was. I was in love with him. He was my very first crush. Imagine, so many people sigh over the fact they couldn’t even say hi to their beloved crush even once and here I was making out with my crush but couldn’t tell him wondering if he would even understand it. So I continued. I again let things be the way they were. I would be at my happiest whenever he would be around. The warmth of his embrace made me feel so substantial that I would just love to rest my face on his chest. One day something like this happened. That day he wasn’t quite himself and neither was I. While making out something happened. I kissed him and unknowingly lost in my thoughts. I rest my face on his chest and just lay like that. Even he himself was lost in his own though. For next 45 minutes we did nothing but to lay there completely submerged in some detached thoughts. He just caressed my shoulder all the time with the arm he had wrapped around me and I doodled with my finger on his torso. That day we didn’t make out. And that was the day which still reminds me of him the most even today…

Spring was here once again. And like everytime, everyone was going crazy all over again. Just that, this time, I too was going crazy myself. Why did I never find the evening winds seeping through my shirt, so cool and caressing? Why did I never find the sky unusually blue in the morning? Why did I never find the birds chirping so sweet and the fragrant rose so enchanting? Maybe I was going crazy after all. And worse, it was a clichéd craziness. I was doing all the things that I used smirk at people doing before. Love is after all a wonderful thing. It does make the world go round. And you can definitely feel it looming in the air if you are in love. Its like everything turns into all these cheesy monochromatic shades of pinks and crimsons. Its just too sweet. But this time you just taste that extra sweetness with a wrinkle on your nose and a silly smile in front of the mirror. Also, love is so definitely blind. Here I was, going crazy about everything related to love, but sadly my love was such that I couldn’t even shout about to everyone around. For a year I showed off a fake love for someone who was such a good friend to me. I was guilty of that crime. But still, now that I was actually in love I couldn’t even tell anyone, not even the object of my affection. Piyush came to me time and again. But it was purely physical to him. Although unlike my previous partner, he never made me feel like I was being used. Every time he would be with me, he would make me feel wanted, feel loved. As I said, there was this thing about him. I would haplessly wait for the next time he would return. All my issues didn’t affect me any longer. I was just too lost in my thoughts of him most of the time. I only wished if I could tell him, but I knew he wouldn’t understand. So I let things be. There was a lot of time to go. I still had four years of my school left. I would see what to do in the future. But that’s the worst thing we could do in love. When you’re in love, never wait. Take your chances. Take your risks. And take that darned leap. Stop worrying, what if he rejects you. If he does then it was never meant to be. If he humiliates you then at least you’ll know he never deserved you and get over with it. But at least you wouldn’t be left out thinking for the rest of your life ‘What if I did confess my love to him?’ That ‘what if’ is the worst regret you can ever have. The regret of not being able to do something haunts you worse than the regret of doing something, and failing at it. And that was the regret I would experience in some future. I should have confessed my emotions for him. But honestly, I may have elaborated my feelings in words here but at that point of time I was just too immature to understand it properly. I was just experiencing all these wonderful feelings. I didn’t have words for them. I didn’t have a shape for them. I didn’t even know really that I was actually in love with him. It was the only thing that just because of him I stopped feeling lonely. And that was the best feeling I could experience after a tumultuous 13 years. Only years later would I realize that it was that ‘L’ word.

Friday, February 15, 2008

2.3 Coming Of Age

Goodness is a virtue. Well, that’s what we are taught since the day we learn to commit our very first error. It could be spilling milk on the table (because you were rather busy playing with it than drinking it). Or it could be soiling your latest “birthday suit” in mud (matching tees and pants in the cheekiest of bunny prints? Never mind.), because it looked more fun splashing it in the puddle. Or it could be as early as wetting your bed while you didn’t even know you were actually doing it. Parents, especially in India make sure we get our daily dosage of teaching in “goodness” just like vaccines that are always a pain in the ass, pun intended. It probably starts since the day we are born. And by the time we start using our brains, the sense of goodness is running along with our blood throughout our body. But I don’t blame it. It’s a good thing. And other than that on a very basic level, its human nature. We are good. That’s what sets us apart from other animals. We might relish butter chicken with naan’s sunk in an inch layer of butter, but some of us would simply faint at the sight of the poor hen get decapitated. We might love ogling at the hot next door neighbor, but we would never miss the opportunity to slap our younger brothers out of doing the same if they are caught doing so. Whatever it is, we are born good. Only that, this goodness fades away with time. The time it lasts in every human being varies from individual to individual. Even the most merciless of criminal was definitely good at some point. And so as you can understand, even I spent a major time of my childhood trying to be perfect. I just don’t know what the perfection was aimed at. I was average in studies. Sports was nil. I was good in art, but wouldn’t say I was putting much effort into it. I got so habituated of my parents’ daily quarrel that I always wished they would separate. I wasn’t perfect, but still always aimed for it. I was never mean to anyone. Pride obviously was out of question. There was no one to envy of and nothing to greed about. For some weird reason wrath never broke free. In spite of all the bullying at school and getting bashed up at home, I never learned to throw fits of anger or tantrums. Don’t know why. Mom always said that she hated the fact that she brought two beautiful souls to such a disturbed world, but she was so thankful to God that none of all this chaos ever adversely affected us. Especially me, since my brother still got to cherish the better parts of it. So I was the sweetest kid every one would find. Watch all the English chick flick movies that involve themes from high schools or college. There will be as a mandatory appearance, an extra, with oiled hair combed perfectly to get the perfectly straight and visible hair-parting. Shirts tidy and belt over stomach (My belts are still over my stomach because now they act like a corset digging into the extra 10 kilos of flab making them look like two flabs of 4 kilos each camouflaged by a newfound fashion sense). Sitting in the last bench like a total nerd being sweet and polite to every single person, no matter however they treated me. But one thing that was always there in me was self respect. I never kissed ass. It wasn’t just in me to apple polish anyone with or without any reason. I was never a teacher’s pet or a wannabe. Just a plain backbencher nerd.

In spite of all this there was a darker side to me dormant somewhere within. Waiting for one day to be shaken out of its slumber. A break out, tearing apart the kindness couture I had always been flashing around. Well, it didn’t really happen so dramatically. It was a slow change over the next decade to come. For some reason I’ve always had some feminine features on the physical aspect. Mom hated it, but somehow I enjoyed it. I was never the manly cast and I know this because we at Fine Arts have to regularly deal with human anatomy and blah blah. My shoulders were slender and not as broad as a man’s shoulder should be. My waist ended slightly above the male parameter of waistline (Female chest is one head and Male is one and a half and I’m somewhere around one and a fourth or even an eighth!) Body hair has always been scarce, thanks to which I could never experiment with beards but fortunately my eyebrows have always been in shape without threading. Even my bosom is much fuller and more spherical. If only I didn’t draw on those darned stretch marks due to a major rapid weight loss and stick to a gym routine, I could have carried off a Victoria’s Secret today with a great deal of oomph. So probably the fact that I reached puberty at the age of 11 didn’t come as a surprise, now that I think of it. At that time I didn’t even know what was happening to me. Why the hell was my crotch getting hairy instead of my upper lip? Was something seriously wrong? But it didn’t take me too long to discover that I wasn’t the only one.

Finally the day came for me to lose my you-know-what. Today all of my friends have the same jaw dropping expression on hearing that the first time I had sex was at the age of eleven. Yes. Eleven. Don’t ask me how, it just happened. He was my classmate. We never hung out. He was a rich kid it and too macho and cool to be even seen with me. No one can even imagine that we ever made out not once but many times. For some reason he needed my help in studies during our sixth standard finals. We used to have group study quite often. Late evenings, early morning, before and/or after school. It was then, when one afternoon after an exam we were hanging out at his place that our curiosity and sexual urges took better of the fact that we were all alone then. I won’t give the gory details of how and what exactly happened, but that was the time when for the first time I experienced orgasm. It was weird. An uncontrollable surge of a numbing pleasure with a physiological discovery- I was scared to death. I was too aghast to even react. I thought I had cancer or something down there, even worse- AIDS.

What followed was a totally newfound discovery of the vastness of life. Like all this time all of us were going crazy cracking cheap innuendoes and being so overwhelmed with the whole concept of sex. But actually experiencing it is something completely different. And in my case it was even more different because it was with the same sex. I started looking up stuff to read and started gathering knowledge about all this. I realized the whole concept of HIV/AIDS was very crucial to be kept in mind while I was doing all this. Both of us hooked up a few more times after that. It was easier for us because both of our parents were working and our houses used to be left to us after school until they returned in the evening. So it was a privilege. Some say that we (as in gay people) are corrupting the youngsters. But its not true. Not just in our case but I heard and read other experiences too- teenage is a phase when people mostly experience. For my then partner, it was probably due to the whole new hormonal change that set his libido on fire coupled with the fact that at that age getting a girl to do the same that I did for him which was next to impossible, that he explored his sexuality with me. It didn’t corrupt him. Today he’s leading a healthy sexual life with his girlfriend and he’s completely straight. So did I corrupt him? I don’t think so. But yes, It marked a whole new change for me. A portal to a completely different perspective towards life was flung open right in front of me. And I stepped in.

So as I wrote a whole philosophical discussion of the goodness we all try to follow, after this incident my faith in my goodness was shaken to the very depths. Sex is something that will always balance your emotions out. Like some lame linear equation. Just so that it doesn’t get too good or too bad for you to be unable to handle. There will be definitely some accessory phenomena- like a parallel incident (parents catching you red handed) or a subsidiary element (body odor makes you go gasping for breath) or the subject itself (you’re too vanilla and he likes it rough) For me it was the guilt that never quite let me enjoy it to the fullest. Not just that I was relishing on the forbidden apple, the more ‘shameful’ aspect was that it was Adam who I was relishing it with instead of Eve. And this was way beyond committing ignorable misdemeanors. Forgetting to complete your homework and breaking a precious cutlery was never a crime enough to hover in my mind as a worry. Even years ago when I for once in my life tried to steal money (because I got addicted to those candy things a vendor would come selling by almost everyday) that even just 6 bucks which I was heavily condemned for by my parents in unison; didn’t strike my mind until I started writing about all the bad things I did till then (although I don’t at all defend my act but that for once got both my parents to do something together for once). But this for some reason distilled on the bottom of my mind and kept twitching all the time. But why? It was because while I was feeling guilty about doing something which I wasn’t supposed to do, I was also enjoying it on other hand. Something wrong which felt so good that it would not restrict you from repeating it again and again. Every time after making out with him, I would regret my defeat to desires. But after a couple of weeks I would be craving for it. It was like disovering a whole new delicacy and the initial urge to savour it again and again. And the worse part was that I couldn’t even talk about it to anyone. Not even the school counselor who kept assuring us of confidentially. What would I tell her? That I was having sex with someone from my class and that even with a guy (because I was yet to find out about the existence of homosexuality) She would probably think I’m demented or something. And life would only get messier than it already is. So I kept on committing the then crime and enjoying it. But my aim for perfection was now stirred. I knew I had done something bad and chose to keep doing it. I was no more good. There was definitely no point in exerting myself for the attainment of the goodness I had been worshipping for so long. This feeling of denial would come to deeply affect me later on in life as by that time it would have seeped deep into my sub conscious state of mind.

For now, this also turned out to be a boon in disguise for me. The shackles of perfection were yanked open and I was free. Free from the mandatory ‘goodness’ now. I no more had to be good. Defaulting the rules started coming naturally to me. Waiting till 5 to 15 minutes after the break because I got the burger a little late since there was too much crowd. And pat would come some innovative excuse for reaching late in class. Bunking classes. Staying out way after it turned dark. Straying away to places forbidden for me. It all started for me then. I somehow started to lose the whole hyper-consciousness and a carefree self began manifesting in me. Before doing or saying anything I would think a thousand times, whether or not I should do it and the consequences that would follow the latter. And eventually I would just give up and not do it. Most of the times I could never gather the courage to do anything that I wanted. But now things started to change. Everytime when the thought “What if” would come to my mind, I would say “Ah! Fuck it” I simply stopped caring. I started to be myself. I would just do them anyway. This helped majorly. In a very short span of time I witnessed this makeover in me. I was no more the nerd I used to be. I was rather just one of the other students. People started to like me generally. I could now just be present in any circle and be someone. And I was liking it. Even my class response improved. I always had an interest in the creative part of the subject, English. But never dared to try anything new and innovative just in fear of ‘What if they don’t like it?’ But now metaphors and similes adorned my notebooks overwhelming my teachers. I wasn’t scared of giving out sarcastic and pun-filled answers during class discussions and the students would share a guffaw over it. Who would ever believe that one of my teachers actually thought I had a speech problem. And oh! By the way, one of the major reasons why I was attracting attention amongst friend circles was because with my eroding sense of good my sense of humor matured and got more kinky. I was full of instant innuendoes. Not just that I was doing it, I was also reading a hell lot about it. And my fellow-mates liked it.

It’s a strange world out there. When you try to be perfect no one gives a damn. No one notices you. But when you add a hint of spice to it, a pinch of ‘badness’ to go with all that ‘goodness’, that’s when you attract the limelight. Everyone loves controversies, something to gossip about. People hardly remember the good things that you do. But getting infamous goes a long way. And after years of trying to stay away from all that I was slowly slithering into it. Grinning and grinding, pun intended.