“All I want is that there is someone to take care of you when I am not there, it doesn’t matter to me if that person is a guy or a girl.”
After all these years, my mother still remains one of the best people I came out to. No, not because she was so accepting and not even a bit surprised by the fact that her son was into men. It was because of the ease with which she made me feel like at the end of the day, as long as you have people standing by you, it will all be okay. That, and for being a constant reminder of how unconditional love should be.
Even today, there are times when my mother has some or the other question about gender, sexuality, people, and the community. In all honesty, when these questions come my way, I get surprised. But then I think about how far she has come, and how after all these years, she still WANTS to know about the many whats and hows of the path I tread. It is not an easy relationship at times, me and my mother. On bad days, there are moments when I get frustrated with her questions. There is a subliminal sense of disappointment over how she still doesn’t know certain things; How are transgenders different from transsexuals? Is that friend of yours who wears a saree a girl or a guy? If you are such a romantic at heart, how are you so casual about sleeping with so many men?
The last one stumps me. Not because she somehow figured this out about me, but because I don’t have the answer. In my resilience to find love, I somehow walked over the no man’s land, the grey area of being neither here and nor there. And surprisingly, I loved it. I mean, why not? Not like I was so sure that I would ever find someone to be with anyway, eh? Just as well. Maybe the road to the one who your mother trusts you with is paved with frogs who don’t turn to princes, countless strangers you kissed and don’t remember, men you slept with who were never going to be able to put you back together, and songs that only leave you wanting more. Just as well.
Ma will have to wait a while maybe. So will I.
There was nothing on my mind when I went to meet him that autumn evening. There were no expectations. That tends to happen after a string of relationships that didn’t work out and being on dating apps that widely consisted of men who were more keen on your likes in bed rather than your taste in films. Although, the week that lead to this evening was sprinkled with some really deep, interesting, and funny conversations with him, I sat on that bench waiting for him expecting nothing. That, and the fact that this was a guy I came across on Tinder and not the other apps, put me a little at ease. If nothing I was surely going to get a good evening out of this meet, maybe even a friend.
He walked towards me with a familiarity in his eyes that I didn’t expect. I felt a sense of contentment that I didn’t see coming. At the risk of sounding awfully corny, I told him he looked very adorable. I handed him the flowers I wasn’t sure he would like. He did.
All evening I felt I kept myself away from the edge that I knew I was capable of jumping off. Take it easy, I told myself. Go sweet, go slow. You don’t even know if he is keen on you.
That’s one of the things about dating when you are queer. Not only are you fighting so many of your insecurities and anxieties, you are also fighting so many thoughts and ideas that have been handed to you to become a part of your mental makeup. Talk only to leave him guessing. Don’t come on too strong lest you scare him away. Take a few days to text back. Don’t suggest meeting again unless it comes again. Don’t appear needy.
And there we sat, in that cafe, in the presence of posters of so many movies that became eternal love stories. There we sat, tossing away everything we were told, telling each other things no one knew. And that is where it all began. In a weirdly poetic way, it took a right swipe for me to find someone who, in this digital age, loves the idea of writing letters as much as I did. That, and how we collectively didn’t care for the “dating rules”, probably why we are still going strong.
As I write this, I hear him and my mother argue in the kitchen over what the best way to boil pasta is. After spending so much time with them together, I can safely say they get along well. Well, minus that one awkward moment when my seafood loving Bengali mother’s heart skipped a beat over that fact that he is a vegetarian. I also think she takes solace in the fact that he is a teetotaller. Mothers.
There are still days when I genuinely can’t believe that I lucked out. For a long time, I believed that I was as lucky in family as I was unlucky in love. But maybe you don’t have to be winning at love to be winning in life. Maybe all any of us can do is go about life patiently, happily; maybe all we can do is date resiliently but open minded, without an agenda, so that when the one who makes your heart flutter actually comes along, the surprise only adds to the happiness.
Until then, you can keep swiping, especially when you know your mother has your back.