Cursed

“VROOOM….VROOOM…..VROOOOOOM…”

5 year old Piyali ran through the house, running her new truck over every wall, table, door and surface she could reach.

“Maaa…..when is bhaiyya coming home? Why isn’t he home yet?”

She ran after her mother, pestering her for answers as she continued playing.

“He will be home when he will be home. But he won’t love you if keep being so noisy and annoying.”

Piyali let out a peal of laughter. “Bhaiyya will never not love me. He loves it when I annoy you.”

She ran the truck over her mother’s behind and leaped out of reach before she could be caught. Laughing maniacally towards the door.

Deepali sighed in resignation. Her husband had been out of state for a fortnight on an official tour. One more day for him to come home. It was difficult for her to cope without him. But thankfully her elder son Deepak was a self sufficient and responsible man of the house. Except for the fact that he spoiled his sister too much.

“Maa…bhaiyya is home”

Deepali rushed with a glass of water to the door and froze. Something seemed off. Deepak stood there, silently, expressionless. He stepped inside, as if in a daze.

“Wha…” She took a gulp to wet her dry throat “what happened Deepak? Are you ill?”

“Uhh…I feel sick” he mumbled as he stumbled towards his room. Avoiding looking her in the eye.

“Bhaiyyaaa….you promised to play with me..” Piyali whined as she clung on to her brother.

He smiled weakly at her, patting her head. “We will…let me get some rest first. You can tell me all about what you did today.”

Her phone started ringing before Deepali could contemplate why her usually upbeat son was behaving so off and upset.

“Hello?”

Heavy, raspy breathing on the other end.

“Who’s this?”

“Maa….a…”

Her entire being went cold.

“Hee….lp…”

A number of things happened within moments…but that moment seemed to last forever.

The line went dead, and the phone dropped from her hand as the door to Deepak’s room slowly swung shut, even as she leaped to reach her daughter, whose smiling face looking adoringly at her brother as the door shut on her would remain etched in her memory forever.

When she reached the room, which took forever, it was empty, without a trace of her children. Before she could scream out in terror, the phone ran again.

Her nerves on her end, shaking and shivering she cautiously picked up her phone. It flashed her husband’s number. After a long pause she picked it up, not knowing what to expect or if it were really her husband what to tell him.

“H..ha..hello?”

“Ufff…..why do you take so much time picking up your phone Deepa? It could be urgent you know?”

She broke down crying hearing his familiar voice.

“What happened? Why are you crying?”

She couldn’t calm down enough to be able to utter any comprehensible word. Even if she did, she hadn’t any idea at all how to say it.

“Accha baba! Dont worry… I will be back home tomorrow. I might be a bit late though. Actually we had to start late from here. The company ran into some troubles with the locals here. These superstitious people wouldn’t allow us to start the construction because of their old temple being on that plot. It’s already ruined and nobody even worships. But they still won’t let go of it. We had to call the cops and I had to personally remove the idol because even the workers were bloody scared. Stupid superstitious lot. Anyways, stay safe and take care of those annoying brats till I am….OI…WATCH OUT!!…”

Deepalis eyes bulged in horror as she heard the crash, scream and grating sound of metal grinding over broken glass as the line went dead on her for the second time.

Koel in the nest

Seema restlessly fidgeted in her chair. The wrinkles on her forehead made her seem a decade older than she was. She waited impatiently for the cause of her accelerated aging to come home so she could give him a piece of her mind for being a self absorbed asshole.

“Maa ji….chai.”

Her reverie was broken by the scent of her bahu’s special ‘adrak wali’ chai made specially for her. She looked adoringly at Simran, her lovely daughter-in-law. Fair skinned, rosy cheeks, and eyes that seemed drawn by Raja Ravi Verma, she looked like Maa Durga. She was not only skilled in cooking both traditional and fast food but also had a head for finances and budget. Without splurging on clothes and cosmetics she managed to exude radiance and gorgeousness. She herself however seemed completely unaware of her own beauty. Soft spoken and mild natured, she was always respectful of her elders and cared for every member of the family. Seema never had to tell her anything twice and they never had any argument. She felt more at peace and relaxed ever since she passed on the reins of the household to her daughter in law. She could not have been prouder of her choice. She loved her more than she would have loved her own daughter
Which is why she could not fathom why despite a year having passed since her arrival, Simran’s smile had gradually diminished to the point of non existence. She had prodded her a lot for answers but she always managed to evade the questions with a fake smile. But of late Simran could not hide her puffy and red eyes or the sunken cheeks.
Ever since the wedding her son had grown more and more distant. She initially ignored it, thinking it was the pressure of starting a new family. But he could now rarely be seen around in the house. He would leave early, come home late and go to sleep as soon as he had his dinner. Grunts and nods were his only means of communication. He would rarely look up at her when she tried to talk about anything.

She then realised even the new wife was subject to the same treatment. She finally decided enough was enough. It was time to knock some senses into her stupid son and remind him of his duties as a son and a husband. Today she was determined to corner him and force him to speak. Which is why she was awake way past her bedtime.

She heard footsteps, and a key turning in the lock. Deepak walked in, looked at her sitting up awake. He didn’t ask why or what and sat down on the sofa, taking off his shoes. Seema could no longer stand his indifferent attitude.

“At least you could care enough to ask why i am up so late?”

“Why are you up so late?” he asked mechanically, still focussed on his shoes. Her patience was now evaporating fast.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to pretend to care about me. I am old now, I am just a baggage waiting to be dispatched off. But can you at least pretend to care about your own wife? Have you asked her how she is?”

“Why? Did something happen to her? I don’t remember saying or doing anything to upset her. I stay out of her way, she can do anything she wants, she doesn’t need my permission. She even manages my salary. I never have asked her to justify any money that she spends.”

She looked aghast at her son. This was not the boy she brought up. When did that cute, naughty and sweet boy that played in her arms become this cold, unfeeling man.

“What are you saying Deepu? Is that all you care about? Is that all you think there is to life and relationships? Have you become so money minded that peoples feelings don’t matter to you anymore? How much time have you spent with her in the past one year? Have you even noticed how much weight she has lost and how little sleep she gets. I can forgive you for ignoring me. Even though I did everything I could to show my love for you -“

“THAT’S a lie.”

A deafening silence exploded in the room at his eruption. Seemas eyes widened in shock. Not just at the fact that her son raised his voice against her, but at the ferocity that glared in his eyes as for the first time in a year he looked up at her.

“It’s a lie that you love me, Ma.” Deepak now spoke gently, but firmly, still looking her in the eye but with a softened gaze, as if explaining to a child

“What you love is ‘a son’, but that son need not necessarily be me. In fact, had anybody other than me been your son, you would have been a lot happier. Whatever you decided for me, you did thinking of the son you wanted, not the one you had. I don’t blame you, you did not have a choice in that matter. Like children cannot choose their own parents, parents too cannot choose who they are giving birth too. But they can try to shape them up in the image they have pre-conceived. But try as much, there are some things that you cannot fundamentally change. Children will grow up to be who they are. I was never and I can never be the son you want, Ma. But I tried my best to pretend to be.    I will forever be grateful for the love and care you gave to me. But I feel like an impostor who cheated you by pretending to be your son, or rather, the son you wanted. I never wanted to marry Simran, or any other girl. I had told you why. But you refused to listen, refused to understand. You threw a tantrum and forced me into this marriage. You ignored my feelings. You pretended like everything was going to be fine. Because I was your son, and you thought you knew best. I realised, you were not thinking about me, because you didn’t even notice how heavy my heart was on the day of the wedding. You turned away when Sahil came at my wedding to say his goodbyes and I was left a staggering, teary mess of nothing. You dragged me into the altar even when all I wanted was to die. All the while smiling and pretending everything was fine. After Simran stepped into the house, you wore the proudest smile and flaunted her to all your friends and relatives. But you never paid attention to how crushed I was. But I bore it all, for your sake. I was not the son you wanted, but she was the daughter in law you always wanted. You could not choose your son, but at least you now had a daughter of your choice. You asked whether I think money is all that is there in life and relationships? A year ago I would have said no. But today, I have learnt to live for it. Because providing you two the comforts brought by money is the only happiness I can give you. It’s the only way I can right the wrongs I have done to both of you. By both marrying her, and being born to you, in deception. I have nothing else to give. If you want grandchildren, I can try, with Simran’s permission. I will provide for them, and their education. You and Simran can try finding your joy with them. I will learn to be content the way I am. I have gotten good in a year. Don’t you think so?

Deepak didn’t wait for an answer. He walked away into his bedroom, leaving the food waiting for him on the dining table untouched.

Seema sat motionless in the couch. Streams of tears flowing down her cheeks. Her chest hurting with the pricks of a thousand pieces of a shattered heart.

A Mother’s plea…

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“Son… I have never asked you for anything in your life. This is the only thing I ask for. Trust me…..you will not regret this.”

She said with confidence. She had full faith in her son, that he would do the right thing. She knew him better than anyone else. She saw him struggle through his life, she saw him overcome his own failures. She herself taught him to trust in himself and believe in himself. She had full faith in him, that he would overcome this hurdle too. All that he needed was a little guidance. He was the son any mother would be proud of, and even if he was going through a dark time, she knew he would eventually find the light.

He held the phone tightly. He could feel her unwavering faith in him, he could feel the love in her voice. He could feel the warmth of her hug, he longed for nothing more than to rest in her arms. He knew he could always confide his deepest and most personal feelings to her.

And yet, he couldn’t bring himself to say what he really wanted to. He couldn’t dare to imagine the pain and hurt in her voice if he really said what he wanted to.

“ok….i will…”

He whispered into the phone. He could feel the chains rattling around him, tightening their coils as he spoke the words. He felt like reading out his own death sentence.

 

She smiled in relief. “You will not regret this. Have I ever asked you to do anything wrong? You will realise in time that this is the right decision.”

 

He smiled, she was happy….for now. He knew what would be in store for him in his future. She didn’t know it yet. And he hoped she never would have to find out. But how long could he fake it? His happiness. Maybe long enough to start believing his own lie? Could he go back in denial? Back into the closet? Maybe if he could marry a girl who could be a good friend, maybe when he had kids?

Maybe she is right? Could it be that once he married all his feelings would change? If it did….what would it mean about his feelings now? Was what he felt until now just a phase? An illusion? Did he really believe in a lie all these years, from his childhood? If it were so….then could he really ever trust his own feelings again? Could he ever believe in himself anymore?

Every fibre of his being told him it was not a phase. It is how he has always been, and it would never change. And if that is the case….what would happen then? Would he have to fake his happiness in front of her? How long could he keep up the charade? And what about their relation? Could he ever be truthful to her anymore? If he had to fake his happiness, there was no way he could share his feelings with her.

In addition to the chains he could see the bars of the cage holding him in, secluding him from his loved ones. This is what his life would be, forever…. He felt his heart sink. And realised, he would have to kill it completely to do what she asked him to do.

Taking a deep breath he let out a sigh.

“I am sorry, mom….I can’t.”

The other end was silent for a long time.

“Don’t say it son….please…don’t” she pleaded with him.

His heart broke to hear his mothers voice…..

“I’m sorry mom….but you have to trust me on this. I know you are hurting now. I could say yes just to stop you from hurting…. but I am hurting too. And what you are asking will hurt me and you both. You could be happy now thinking you have saved me. But when time will pass, you would realise my pain and I know it would pain you twice as much. You taught me to believe in myself, to trust my instincts. Now I am asking you to believe in me….trust in me, that I will find my own way to happiness. I have not forsaken you or all that you have taught me. I am merely using your guidance to forge my own path. I don’t want to fake my happiness for you. That would be an insult to you too. And I don’t want you to ever regret or feel guilty for the mistakes in my life. Let me make my own mistakes, I will atone for them. I don’t want to hide anything from you, Mom. So please don’t force me to make a decision that will force me to hide my feelings, force me to doubt myself. You taught me to be free, you of all people I expect to understand the most how I feel. So please forgive me Mom, but I can’t give you what you are asking for.”

Tears streaked his face, his heart ached to feel her hurt. But the chains were gone, and so was the cage. He told her what was in his heart. He couldn’t lie to her. And he would never lie to her.

She was silently sobbing on the other end. She knew there was nothing she could do for him, but trust that he find the right path by himself. She had tried….but it was all up to him now. She prayed that the Gods be with him.

“I trust you son. I hope you make the right choice….whichever it maybe. And I will not force you for anything ever again. And you should never have to fake your happiness dear, not for me and not for anyone. Take care and Good Night….”

 

A Successful Marriage…


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.

Happy Birthday Sis…

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Happy Birthday sis…. Had you been with us today it would have been your 30th birthday. I dont know how we would have celebrated but now we will never know. You did not get to see even 30 summers. I know many are there who have lived lesser years but that doesnt give any solace. You were a one of a kind girl. Vivacious, vibrant, moody, straight forward, cranky, bitchy, silly, romantic, philosophic, caring, bold, beautiful. But you were too delicate and precious to be here. This life took away a lot of things from you yet you never gave up, stubborn as you were, you fought long and hard. Even when life took away everything from you bit by bit, you fought on with every breath. Wish i could have been there to fight for you. When mom left us you were there for me always, wish i had the chance to take care of you. When i came out to you, you worried over me and stood up for me, wish i could stand up for you. This is the first birthday you are not with us…and God i miss you! I dont cry for you, i dont cry for mom either. She has become a memory and one day you will too. And these memories i will cherish forever. All my life, you will always be the champion i look upto. Love you so much…so so much…

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Criminal from India

A brief introduction of a Criminal fro. India…..
I am an engineering student from Assam, India. I grew up in a society 1where homosexuality was unheard of and so was homophobia. As a 8 year old kid I used to dress up in my mothers saree with her help and roam the entire colony during Saraswati Puja and never heard a mean word from anyone. It was just a little child’s innocent play and that is how everyone saw it.
I was an introverted kid with no interest in sports or any physical activities, I very much spent most of my school life buried in books and was hardly ever in any sort of trouble. I stayed to myself and had very few select friends to whom I opened up. I was well mannered, helpful and shy, this made me much liked by teachers and elders, even the burly boys of my class treated me nicely. I knew early in life that I was different from the rest of the boys, but I pretty much spent my entire school life in denial. Even after hitting puberty, when I used to get aroused by the male anatomy I chalked it up to ‘late growth’ or ‘hormonal imbalance’ and earnestly believed I would grow out of it. I never thought of myself as ‘Gay’, and though I am usually less judgmental of different people, I had a homophobic streak as I refused to believe that sexuality couldn’t be changed.
When I entered college I started to imagine my future life as a person dedicated to his work as I didn’t believe I could live a married life. It hurt to think I would never get to raise a son or a daughter. But then I fell head over heels for a guy in college, my first love. And after spending a few agonizing months in his presence, helplessly trying to convince myself that it was just ‘friendship’, I finally broke down and came out of denial. After facing reality I couldn’t bear the burden of a secret, I came out to my best friend from school, he had been a great friend and mentor to me in my school days and had helped me build my confidence and over come my shyness. None of that changed, and he told me that he was proud of me to choose to come out. Encouraged with my first confession, I decided to come out to the friend I crushed on. I told him everything, about my sexuality and my feelings for him. He was shocked, but he didn’t run away, didn’t shout at me, didn’t ask me to change. He supported me and stood by me when a few months later I came out to everyone on Facebook.
“Today on Janmashthami, birthday of the God of Love ‘Krishna’, i fasted and prayed to the Lord to give me the courage and the will to do the right thing. And right now sitting on my computer i think i need to share this with all and any who are concerned or care that i am Gay. I hope i’m doing the right thing, not by being gay but by coming out like this i mean. I do not choose to be gay, i just choose to live a life where i’m free to love….”
These were the exact words that i wrote on Facebook. This was a bold step and I was shit scared. I hadn’t asked anyone or discussed with anyone before doing it. But I was not going to live a secret life. I wanted people to see me as a gay guy and realise that i was normal. The following few weeks were hard as my friends all screamed at me, but they were angry with me for being public about it. I was pleasantly surprised as most of my classmates and college friends came to my support. I was never bullied and never a bad word said to me. Though most did not believe I was actually gay, or thought I would change, no one abandoned me or harassed me. Yes there were people who said things behind my back, but they wouldn’t dare to say it to my face because I would give back as much I got. And my friends always had my back.
I came out to my father after the Indian SC re-criminalized homosexuality, he believes its a perversion and that i can change if i try,but he would not stop loving me if I choose to settle with another man.