I feel jealous when I see the Idea mobile ad in which the son switches the phones of his parents to give them an idea of each other’s lives for a day. Well, if people lived my life for a day they would probably wish to die. Very often I read and re-read “The Scarlett Letter”, by Hawthorne and draw a parallel between my life and Hester’s. If people find out what I am they would surely brand me as crimson A as they did to Hester or a crimson G rather.
My mom knows my problems. When I was thirteen she was shocked to see that I had a liking towards “girly” things. She took me to a doctor miles away from the city the next day. I was on hormonal pills for a couple of months and when that proved futile, I underwent sessions with the psychiatrist. Except for the loss of money, I didn’t see any change in my preferences. In fact, the more you are stopped from doing something, the more you want it. Just as a spring that is compressed tends to jump more than a normal one. I don’t understand why they just don’t leave it to nature to decide what I have to be.
Ever since I turned twenty five, my parents have been insisting on marriage. It is the question of family reputation in my case. I’ve said that I am not ready to marry a girl of their choice as I would be ruining her life as well as mine. I would not be able to pardon myself if I committed such a crime. But even my mom wouldn’t listen. Neither can I see my family in tears, so I cannot tell anyone the truth about myself. Now that’s what they call a catch 22 situation. I end up giving in to the pressure and agreeing to meet the girl they have found on shaadi.com for me.
It is evening, and the girl and her family arrive. She is beautiful, but I cannot admire her. The very thought of trapping her in my evil web, haunts me. As the family plans how they should go about our engagement, she blushes, her eyes brimming with hope. As I weigh between shattering her dreams and devastating my family’s reputation, I decide to talk to her in private.
She smiles as she walks towards me and holds my hand with passion as soon as we reach the terrace. My hands in hers tremble with fear, but I gather courage as what I am going to do is a matter of courage than a question of shame. Before she opens her mouth to say anything I gasp, “I’m sorry I’m gay. And I cannot tell anyone that.” She drops my hands from hers and looks at me with her eyes wide open. “Oh my God, you cheated on me!” she exclaims with pain in her voice and moves two steps away.
“How did I cheat? I told you the truth putting my reputation at stake,” I say in a plummeting tone. Her pupils grow wider and she grits her teeth. “I don’t understand how you guys can’t like girls. It is so weird; you people can’t love a girl.” Her pitch attenuates and her brows relax as she ponders over the situation.
“We aren’t attracted to girls because we like what girls like. When it comes to love, do you think I would have told you the truth if I hadn’t loved or cared? I have not told anyone about this so far but the very thought of ruining your hopes kills me. I just want you to be happy, and that’s why I left my family’s reputation behind me,” I say as I feel my cheeks wet and throat soar.
A moment of silence transpires between us. As far as I can think I have just opened Pandora’s Box, but it’s alright. The pain of guilt would be much more excruciating. “Penny for your thoughts?” I ask her. She nods her head. “The government has legalized gay marriage”, she says in a sweet voice. I ponder over the thought and all that I know is that the legalization makes my world no El Dorado. Nothing would earn me reprieve from the scornful eyes of society. How could I explain what it was like?
“When I was in college my best friends sneered at guys wearing pink shirts calling them “fags.” I had to laugh at my own feelings to keep the ball rolling”, I say in a heavy tone sighing. ” I am a friend to all, but nobody can be mine. I cannot tell anyone who I am as they love me for what they think I am. I am in constant fear of losing the people who are close to me so I hide my true face from my own world.”
“I can be your friend but only on one condition- you should not tell anyone that you are gay, at least in my friend circle, and I can handle my parents and call off the engagement. So don’t worry,” she says smilingly.
The whole thing sounds funny to me. I have to act straight in front of her friends just to be in her friend circle? I keep thinking whether true friendship exists nowadays or is a friend circle something like a trophy just for exhibition. However, for the first time in twelve years I feel light in my heart as I have shown my true face to someone, so I nod affirmatively.
“Cool, so I’ll tell my parents that we have decided to get to know each other, and later on we can plan on annulling the whole thing. I really wonder how you feel now, I find it so weird that I am standing so close and talking to a gay person. Maybe I’ll get used to it down the line”, she says smilingly.
“If you are sure you want to know how I feel, you probably should go to a place you’ve never been to before and probably never will, and spend one day saying that you are a lesbian and see how people treat you. Then you’d know what it is like to spend a day in my life.”
She winks her eye and says, “I never want to try it out,” and we smile to each other as we walk back to the room where our families are match- fixing.