Today I am a very content woman; even though I am a single mother. It isn’t a stigma for me. It is my strength, because I am able to be me; it feels right. It took me 25 years to find me but today on wards is what matters.
I was 22 then. I had fallen in love. This young man who had nothing but would do anything to make me happy. The man who rode his cycle like a maniac behind a jeep past midnight only to ensure that my boss is doing what he assured my parents; that he’d drop me back home safely. The man who showed I had the strength to do what I wanted to do in a city, in a time, where women who wanted to have a career other than a teacher wasn’t considered respectable. The love of my life, who had become the son my parents never had, was suddenly the most favorite enemy of their life because he dared to fall in love with their precious and only daughter; me.
“You will never see him again. If you do..” was followed by an endless stream of ifs and thens. And so I did. I said good bye to him. Not just to him, but to a part of me died that day.
It was a prick in my hand that woke me up briefly. I turned my head and saw her, the nurse. She was standing at my bedside putting a needle through my veins trying to connect me to a bottle of glucose hanging on the stand right next to my head. I looked up at it groggily wondering, what is that going to change for me? I see my mother sitting in the corner in this dim lit, pale blue walled room in the hospital. My eyes shut again. My body couldn’t stay awake any longer and I fell asleep.
I don’t remember how many days and nights and days and nights had passed I hadn’t eaten or drank water but was force-fed through the gut wrenching nausea. There were curses in the back ground being thrown at where once all I heard was only blessings. How could it have gone so wrong? What was my mistake? Why don’t you understand? Can you even hear what I am saying? All in vain.
I was begged at. I was threatened by cries of sympathy. I was asked. I was told. But I wasn’t heard.
8 months later. Lights are flickering all around. Laughter and chatter everywhere. A house brimming with relatives. A decorated car awaits at the gate. My best friend sits in the car with me. We reach the venue. I am escorted out, being guided up the passage. I can only see my shoes, those shiny gold shoes. I tried to look up but the veil is too thick. “Keep your head down”, I hear this sharp whisper, ‘you’re the bride today”. ‘Qabool hay?’ the clergyman asks. The screams in me are aching to throw themselves out of my throat to say no, no….NOOOO. …. I squeeze my friend’s hand as if she could speak for me. ‘Qabool hay?’ I gulp a lump down my parched throat and utter the word that began a chapter that was already written out for me. “haan qabool hay”.
The morning after, as I packed my bag for the journey into the unknown life with my husband and his family, he lay there and said, “oh, don’t pack your jeans. You’ll never get to wear them in my house.”
2 years have gone by. Hands adorned by bangles, toes clamped with toe-rings, a mangal sootra hanging around my neck, I have learnt the art of cooking curries to roasts to desserts right out of the recipe book as if I grew up doing only this and nothing at all. Wah wah bahu…bohot achha hay. Thank you Pappa, thoda aur lijiye na?!
I was running on a program. A program installed by family, by society. This is how a wife should be. No one though happened to ever mention how a husband should be. Something just didn’t seem right. I visited my father to seek his advice, to seek solace, “Baba, something isn’t right”. “Don’t worry beta, once you have a child, everything will be alright” he answered. Yet another program was uploaded and I restarted.
My daughter is now 2 years. Something isn’t right. It just isn’t right. And you know what? I don’t care to know what it is. All I know is my daughter is not going to grow up in this environment. I left with my daughter and never looked back.
My days were filled climbing the corporate ladder and evenings with my daughter and parents. They took me back. A failed marriage – they dared not to put that on me. I was not going to take that anymore and they knew it this time.
A year later my lost love walks back into my life like a knight in shining armor. Said he, “I still love you, will you marry me?” “Yes yes yes!” I jumped with excitement, “oh but wait. I have a daughter now”. And he said, “she is a part of you, and so, she is a part of me now.”
5 years later another daughter comes into our lives. Something isn’t right. That comes up again for me. And I tell myself, “no, no, not again. Not this time. How can it be? This is the man I loved so much. And he loves me. No, I will not let this fall apart. I will make this work”.
5 more years pass. Something isn’t right. This time it was way too strong to ignore. And then it all unraveled. He was seeing someone else. My whole world collapsed in an instant. How could this happen? What went wrong? I must’ve done something wrong? I wasn’t there for him. I was too busy …….
“I am sorry sweetheart, I made a mistake. Can you forgive me please?” he said one day and I responded, “OK, jaan, let’s make this work”.
Another 5 years pass. It continued to go wrong. My attempts to make this go right just didn’t work. I could no longer live a life of lies. The question here is I didn’t even know anymore who was lying to whom. Was he lying to me or was I lying to him or was I lying to myself? Whatever it was, all I knew was that it was over. I took my girls and I left.
It’s been a year now. It was no one’s fault that neither of my marriages worked. Not my exes. Not the families. Not mine even. I didn’t even realize until 6 months after I left that for the first time I felt alive. Not because I was away from a man who cheated on me. Not because I was not in a marriage that wasn’t working. Not because now I was not answerable to anyone and could do anything. It was none of that.
You see, this goes all the way back to my childhood. Something that was going on in me that felt so right. It just came so naturally to me, but, only when I was alone. It wasn’t something I even thought could be spoken about to anyone. It was my secret fantasy about women. They would be damsels in distress and I would be their savior! It didn’t stop at saving them though. My fantasies went way more intense – feeling their body felt just right and I never felt the need to question it. As time went by, years passed, my fantasies faded but never completely went and I got caught up in society’s norms.
Until that day, sitting in my new house, all by myself I finally realized what it was that I kept getting when it felt like “something isn’t right”. All that was required for me to feel alive was to be OK with myself having all these feelings for women that were locked up inside of me. I just had to acknowledge, no one else but Me. The only one that had to really know the truth was me. And that’s when I said it to myself, “K, it’s time to step out of the closet.”
Now, everything is right!