This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sudeepta M Sarangi. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

‘Orange Is The Happiest Color’

It is almost the end of monsoon. September in Goa usually receives more sun than rain, but it has been raining cats and dogs since this morning. By the way today is no ordinary day, it’s the 33rd birthday of my daughter, my only child. She lives in Panjim. We relocated here four years ago, to this small village, Carmona, about two hours away from her. I have to take a bus ride alone because, you see, her father won’t give me company for the journey. He is still mad at her.

Lizzie has always been a free spirited girl. Non-conforming, even as a child. She would struggle to drag herself with us for the Sunday mass in our community church. I know how she scorned at the fact that her father was the secretary of the Catholic Association of Panjim.

One day when we were halfway to the church, she suddenly took a U-turn. Pointing at a leper begging on the road side, she walked away, looking back and shouting, “I don’t believe in your god who can be so indifferent to the sufferings of the world, which you say, he created!”

Gary didn’t speak to her for over six months after that. She was only in grade 7 then.

Gary’s brothers are eminent lawyers in Goa and so he wished that Lizzie should pursue law. But for the rebel that she was, she chose to study what she wanted and found her way to the college of her choice, in Mumbai. Gary wasn’t happy even when she became the youngest designer to showcase her work at the India Fashion week.

It was always like this between them. On and off. Despite all my efforts to bridge the gap, I was never successful in setting their relationship equation straight. As time passed, it only turned more bitter for them, and more painful for me.

For representation only.

It was the winter of 2013. My favorite time of the year. The pleasant cool temperature, festivities, the smell of freshly baked cookies, the sound of carols, and dazzling bright lights blinking everywhere. Christmas was only a week away and the whole city was warm and infected with the holiday cheer. But the best part of all: Lizzie was home for her vacation, and I had made her favourite dessert, bebinca.

We were all busy decorating the house and setting up the tree. Maria, our house help, was cleaning the living room. Lizzie had taken out a few books from her bag and had kept them on the table. As Maria lifted them to change the table cloth, something fell out of one of the books, and slid onto the floor. Gary looked down from the tall stool he was standing on for changing a fused bulb in the ceiling.

As Maria picked it up, he bent down to snatch it from her. I could see, from the kitchen, his hands were trembling; what he held was a photo. He fell on the floor with a thump. His face red like a tomato, as if with shame or anger or may be both. As Maria and I rushed for help, he quickly gathered himself and stormed out of the front door, in a rage. Before I could comprehend what just happened or imagine the possibilities of what he might have seen, Maria told me. It was a selfie. Lizzie smooching another girl.

The next day we had the Carvalho family over at our house, for dinner. Mr. Carvalho is an old friend of Gary’s, and his son Kevin studied with Lizzie in the same high school. Kevin has grown up to a handsome and smart young man and is now managing the family business. They are the largest cashew fenny producer in the state. Gary proposed to Mr. Carvalho that they arrange Lizzie’s marriage with Kevin ,and the Carvalhos were all smiles, excited with the idea. Lizzie stood up with a jerk, pushed her chair back, furiously freaked out. She walked out of the dining hall with loud steps.

That was our worst Christmas ever.

We didn’t see her until after three weeks, when she showed up in the hospital.

Through a common friend, Kevin had mined out the information, about the girl and Lizzie; that they have been living together in Lizzie’s apartment in Mumbai. It didn’t take too long for the news to spread like a forest fire all through Panjim.

Gary couldn’t take the shock and the humiliation. He had a stroke. He has had a long history of heart issues and two years ago he underwent angioplasty. Doctors said the chances that he could see us again were very dim.

Fortunately, in two weeks, Gary returned home from the hospital. Only that home was nothing like what it used to be. Lizzie had left home. Forever.

Gary is still angry. I was angry too. But it’s been four years now. And how long could I hold my anger for a girl as extraordinary as Lizzie? Everything about her oozes freedom and her spark of life. For the magical chaos that she is, everybody and anybody could fall for her charm.

***

Oh, how time flies and thoughts, they fly like jets. I didn’t realise that. which traveling through all these memories, in about three hours, I have walked from Panjim bus stop to the main entrance of the cemetery and you see, that’s my sweetie, lying over there.

But I hear these noises from afar like the sounds of some carnival. Well, these are good noises. They won’t disturb my Lizzie. Rather, she will now sleep in peace. A fellow visitor tells me the Supreme Court of India has decriminalised homosexuality. Could it be only a coincidence or some conspiracy by the cosmos that they chose my lesbian daughter’s birthday for this announcement?

There are many more Lizzies out there, exuberant and celebrating. They won’t have to jump off from their apartment buildings, drink rat poison, or hang from the fan, like my Lizzie did. Could she have got a better birthday gift than this?

Oh, by the way, I have got this fresh bouquet of orange Calendula for her special day. I had asked our local florist to reserve one for me. Those are Lizzie’s favorite flowers. Her round brown eyes would light up on seeing them. I can hear her. The same enthusiasm in her voice as always when she says, “Ma, you see, orange is the happiest color!

Featured image source: Marina Coric/DeviantArt.
You must be to comment.
  1. Kartik SK

    i really loved it!

More from Sudeepta M Sarangi

Similar Posts

By Aqsa Shaikh

By Suryatapa Mukherjee

By Ungender Legal Advisory

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below