‘Let’s go watch a film?’ suggested Sia to her parents. ‘I aced my B.Ed exams, my treat.’
Her father smiled indulgently, ‘Okay. Get tickets for evening.’
‘Cool. Will do,’ she quipped thinking, ‘Maybe, this way, I can…….’
The same evening after walking out of the film midway…….
‘Preposterous! Utter filth! How can they vilify relationships like this? It is against our culture. It is immoral,’ grumbled Mr Bajpai, ‘Raam*! Raam! I feel dirty within.’
Having just watched the film ‘Ek Ladki Ko dekha*’, Mrs & Mr Bajpai were distressed. Sia in tow, they hurriedly tried to shuffle out of the theatre. Mrs Bajpai pulled her pallu* over her head, a vain attempt to shield her face.
The film dealt with lesbianism, portraying a girl’s self discovery & subsequent revelation to her family. Mrs & Mr Bajpai were of conservative thoughts. The idea of homosexuality was unthinkable to them. Devout Hindu Brahmins, hailing from a religious community in Faizabad, a small town in U.P, they both participated regularly in the local temple welfare activities. Sia, the apple of their eyes had been raised in a spiritual atmosphere. The idea perpetuated by the film was in violation to their deep rooted religious sentiments.
Sia observed their reaction mutedly. Her purpose behind getting her parents to watch the film had been defeated. Their reaction troubled her. She had hoped that they would be more understanding.
‘If this is how they behave after watching a film, then how will I ever….,’ her thoughts trailed off, as they rode back home. The turmoil in her heart was mirrored in her troubled eyes. There was so much that she wished to say to her parents. But……
Back home, at dinner, she tried to diffuse the mood by saying, ‘The film wasn’t that bad.’
‘That bad?! It was blasphemous! Bhagwaan Bachao*!’ said Mrs Bajpai from the kitchen door.
‘C’mon Maa*, lesbians are people too. They are no different from us.’
‘Sia, why are you defending something that is against our religion?’ questioned an irate Mrs Bajpai, ‘God created man and woman. That is a natural, God given relationship. A woman and woman relationship is against God’s creation. It is sacrilegious.’
‘But Maa, what if a woman’s heart beats for another? What if men don’t appeal to her?’
‘Enough! Wrong, is wrong. You cannot make it right by arguing. Society does not accept such things and neither do we. We are not such people, Sia,’ interjected Mr Bajpai forcefully, ‘I don’t want to hear another word on this.’ Mr Bajpai’s temper was legendary in the family.
‘Such people?’ Sia questioned. Anguished, her lip quivered. Her eyes welled up. The years of suffocating silence; the closeting, all came to fore and she blurted, ‘Baba*, I am such a person. I am a lesbian.’
A stunned silence ensued.
Mrs Bajpai gasped, clutching her hands to her mouth. The plate of chappati’s* that she had been bringing from the kitchen crashed to the floor. Wide eyed, she gawked at her daughter.
Slack jawed Mr Bajpai stared at Sia, momentarily paralyzed by her revelation. He shook his head, struggling to comprehend. Then gradually, realization dawned. ‘What?’ he finally managed.
‘Baba, I….,I…, I’m sorry…please……Baba….’
Mr Bajpai’s forehead furrowed. His eyes narrowed beneath knitted brows. His hands clutching the edge of the dining table, balled into fists. His neck muscles constricted. A vein popped at the side, throbbing furiously. Losing control on his temper he yelled, ‘Sorry, my foot! Pagal ho gayi ho kya*? Yeh kya bakwaas kar rahi ho*?’
‘Log kya kahenge, socha hai tumne*? I sit on the board of the temple trust. If this unholy news spreads, I will be the laughing stock of the community. You will bring disgrace upon us.’
‘Dekhiye Ji, maine pehle hi kahah tha ki Ladki ko itni chuut mat do, college ke baad shaadi karva do*. But did you listen to me? No. See what has happened now. What will we do now? Hey bhagwaan! Prabhu!*’ wailed Sia’s mother.
‘Shaant*Savitri!’ bellowed Mr Bajpai.
Sia balked. Her resolve all but melted. But, she had to do this; had to see this through. Gathering her courage, eyes downcast she meekly mumbled, ‘Baba, It’s my sexual orientation. I cannot deny my lesbianism.’
‘Shameless girl! You sit before your father and utter words like lesbianism and sexuality. You were raised better!’ shouted Mr Bajpai furiously, all but imploding in his ire.
‘Yes Baba,’ she said finally, tearfully, after a period, ‘I agree I was raised better. But, you raised me to have a voice. Why do you now ask me to suppress it? How can I go against my basic instinct? If homosexuality is abnormal to you then heterosexuality is the same to me. This is what our God intended for me Baba. Lesbian is what he made me.’
Before either could speak, she continued, openly weeping now, ‘Baba, Maa, It does not matter what people say. But, it matters what you say, what you think? Others can treat me as blight but I am your flesh & blood. Will you both also forsake me even though I, your only child, am what our God made me?
…And so it continued, the debate, well into the night. Food forgotten, the trio sat at the dining table. Her parents ranted and railed against her. Amid bouts of weeping and sobbing, Sia let out all her pent up feelings arguing and debating with them. She tried logically, even pleadingly to make her parents understand. But…………
Although Sia came out of the proverbial closet, her revelation fractured her family. She tried but failed to get them to accept her proclivity. A few weeks of tireless pleading later, her parents grudgingly acknowledged but still did not accept her lesbianism. Even out in the open, the truth remained closeted within the walls of their home only. Ultimately disillusioned and heartbroken at the rejection, Sia relocated to Delhi, to pursue a career in teaching.
Raam – Lord Raam revered as a God
Ek Ladki Ko dekha – (I saw a girl) A Hindi film exploring lesbianism.
Bhagwaan Bachao – God save me
Pallu– the loose end of a saree, generally draped over the shoulder by a woman.
Chapatti’s – Indian flat breads
Baba – father
Pagal ho gayi ho kya? – have you gone mad?
Yeh ka bakwaas kar rahi ho? – What nonsense are you talking?
Log kya kahenge, socha hai tunme? – What will society say, have you thought about that?
Dekhiye Ji, maine pehle hi kahah tha ki Ladki ko itni chut mat do, college ke baad shaadi karva do* – See I told you earlier also that you should not give such liberty to a girl, should get her married off after college itself.
Hey Bhagwaan! – Oh God!
Prabhu! – Synonym for God
Shaant – quiet
This is an entry for UniK-4, a 1000-word writing event at ArtoonsInn.
Check the event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/pride-unik-5-writing-event-artoonsinn/
Don’t forget to leave a comment and rate this story out of 10(either on the shared post on Facebook or by using the rating bar down below).
Rulfy Tracker: https://1drv.ms/x/s!ApiLwn00sMcLgiGAqFNdWGdpfw3- for the writer to share his/her reviews and ratings for the participants’ stories of this writing event who reviews this story.