He sat beside the window and watched the scenery blurring away, his brown eyes staring past the window but his mind elsewhere. He kept thinking about the same thing over and over again. A day before leaving home his parents called him to the drawing room to talk. It was odd, they usually were quite frank and straightforward with him so this need for a ‘counsel’ both mystified and scared him. He was dreading that he had perhaps overestimated his parents acceptance of his sexuality and this was some kind of ‘intervention’. Maybe they would ask him to consider therapy. He felt heartbroken and expecting the worst he had obliged to their ‘meeting’. What he learnt there did break his heart, but not in any way he had been expecting.
Two days ago in Alex’s drawing room….
“Son, we need to talk to you about something very important. Promise me that you will listen with an open mind.”
So they were actually thinking of some kind of therapy. Alex couldnt help feeling hurt and betrayed. Just days ago they both said they loved him for who he was and now they do this.
” I promise mom.”
He tried not to let any feelings seep into his words.
Pranita and Digvijay looked at each other and steeled themselves for the plunge.
” Alex, son, what we want to tell you is something about our marriage. We feel that you have a right to know and understand. I think you are old enough.”
“Wh…what is it dad? What are you talking about?”
Alex was scared. He had no idea what this was all about. They couldnt be getting a divorce. No way. They were the fucking best parents! They were the perfect couple! They NEVER got into fights. They loved each other!
Digvijay looked at Pranita, she understood and continued.
” You see Alex, when we were married our marriage was arranged by our parents. We did not meet each other until a month before our wedding. We did not have a romantic whirlwind love story with a happy ending. Our story started with our marriage.”
“So….are you guys saying that you want to go seperate ways to find someone else and fall in love?!!” The stupidity of the idea baffled Alex.
He looked at their faces, they both looked shocked.
” What the… We are not getting divorced! What gave you the idea!” Digvijay blustered.
Now Alex felt stupid ” Holding a counsel and talking about your marriage what am i supposed to think?”
Pranita pacified him ” No darling we are not getting divorced. We shall come to the point but we dont want to be blunt with you. You see, before we got married I was shown your fathers photo, he was handsome and I was young. I had been brought up to be a good daughter and housewife. My parents had chosen a good looking groom for me. I trusted their decision and was happy. One day your father came to our house and asked to meet me in private. He said he had something important to talk to me. You see, your father was already in love with someone else.”
Alex turned towards his dad, and raised an eyebrow.
Digvijay cleared his throat and cast his eyes down ” Yes i was. When I was a medical student, in college, I had fallen in love. We loved each other, and our relationship had grown very strong in these five years of college and I could not imagine my life without him by my side. So when my parents told me they had a bride for me…”
“Him?….Dad you are….were…are…” he couldnt bring himself to say it.
Digvijay looked at his son with a pained expression
“I am gay. I am sorry to put you through this painful conversation. But that is not the only thing we had to tell you. It would have been easier for all of us to not have this conversation, but it would not have been right.”
Pranita quickly picked up the conversation ” Your dad was in love with a man, and his parents had chosen a bride for him. Now focus on the story and listen carefully” she scolded Alex. He was glad to not have to look at his dad right now.
” There was no way he could bring himself to tell his family that he was in love with a boy. So he came to me to ask me to call off the wedding. I had never heard of such a thing before and i was as disgusted as i was shocked. I started crying and he tried to console me.”
” It was awkward as hell. She finally ran into her room crying and I was scolded for making her cry. But she did not call off the wedding.”
” I could not bring myself to tell my parents about this. And i could not think of any excuse to break the wedding. Moreover if the marriage did break, my family would have to bear the brunt. People would talk about us and it would be harder for me to find a suitable match.”
” When I realized that this wedding could not be stopped, I decided to run away with ‘him’. I was still in college then. We had planned to run away from the hostel but one day before our due day, ‘he’ left silently without even meeting me. He left a letter for me and wrote that I should get married to the girl and lead a normal life. That he loved me but it was an impossible dream to be together. I never heard from him since.”
Alex looked up at his dad. He could hear the pain in his voice and saw it in his eyes.
” After that I just didnt care anymore. I let things happen and just carried on. I tried to numb all my feelings.”
Pranita wiped away a tear and sniffed.
” After that, we were married and everybody celebrated, but of course not us. After the wedding, we went on living like a nornal couple in front of everyone. But when we were alone it was only awkward silences. I kept busy doing house chores and helping my mother-in-law. And your father buried himself in his studies. But I could see him broken inside. Though I couldnt understand his love for another man, I could see he was in pain and felt sorry for him. I even found the letter ‘he’ wrote to your dad. I cried to sleep that night and I realized how much they loved each other and how heart broken your father was. I tried to be nicer to him and take care of him. I could not be his lover but I tried to be his friend.”
They looked at each other and smiled. Alex looked at them and he realized that despite what their story was, they were in love at this moment.
” Your mother is the most selfless woman in the world. Here she was, a newly wedded bride of a gay man who wouldnt look at her. And she was still sympathising with me. I was sinking in my own sorrow but when I looked at her and realised just how strong and kind hearted she was. I felt guilty for putting her in this situation. I tried to make amends by bringing small gifts and helping her in house work. Slowly we got to be good friends, we talked about everything. From my bofyriend to her love for dance. Then I graduated and became a doctor and we shifted to the city. I started my practise and your mom took up dance classes. We stayed together, a married couple, though really we were just two live-in friends. We helped each other overcome our fears, face our demons and most importantly happiness. Divorce was discussed but we decided to stick together and give a shot at making our friendship a real marriage and you came into our lives.”
” With your arrival we became a real family, two parents and a child. We have been mostly celibate our whole married life and we have not cheated on each other ever. You meant everything to us and still do. We felt blessed to have you. And we will always be your parents and we shall always remain a family.” His mother clutched his hands and kissed his forehead.
His father looked at them and smiled
” Son, when you came out to us, truthfully I was scared. But your mother was glad and she took it as a second chance for us to make things right. By giving you freedom to choose your own life partner. And it was your courage that gave us the courage to tell you the truth. You need to realize that our marriage was succesful only because both of us are good people and sacrificed a lot to stay together. Marriages like ours have a one in a million chances of surviving. Your mother and I are good friends and she is a good mother. I hope i can call myself a good father. And we have a good and brave son. This is what makes us a family, son. So be very careful when choosing who you share your life with. And be a good man first.”
Alex did not have any words to say. He just hugged them together and cried.