End of 1995.
HELP!! Help.. please…
Can you hear me? Don’t lock me in. I beg of you. It’s dark in here. I feel something clutching at my throat all the time, it’s suffocating. Don’t let me drown in darkness. I am your own, your Rooh, your soul.
Without me will you be able to live? Survive.. maybe. Exist..Yes. Just how a moonless night exists, dark, gloomy, forbidding; without the white of the moon to light up its entire being. But, without me will you be able to love? Yourself. First.
Dibrugarh, Assam, 1995
I was 12 when the realization dawned on me. Rooh, as I liked to call the niggling sensation within me, was slowly becoming a voice. I could hear it whispering to me, “You are different from the rest.” How? Why? There were no answers.
The other boys at school were growing up, talking about the voluptuous, curvy bodies of the actresses in the movies; but for me the sculpted, bare chested frame of Tom Cruise was the attraction. The body of another man resonating the same rhythm as mine. I felt a pull towards them. Rooh said, “It’s normal. There is nothing wrong with you.” I believed him.
Love and Lust; their meaning unknown to me till I landed my hands on my sister’s Mills and Boons. It opened the romantic world to me. What was it that I felt for the hero of the story? The lingering kiss, the touch on the nape of the heroine’s neck; why did they send shivers through my body?
These sensations made me uncomfortable. Always, the lady swept from her feet by the man, never a man enthralled by another. Rooh wanted me to stop thinking about this. “These stories are fiction. They don’t hold mirror to your feelings.”
But the seed of doubt had taken roots. Afterall, how many weddings that I attended were between two men. Or two women?
“No man that I know, speaks about being attracted to another man, Rooh.”
“But that doesn’t mean you can’t. That’s what makes you different.”
This realization brought with it demons of self-loathing, disgust, and the biggest of all: singularity. I was the only person in the world to suffer from this. The blood in my veins felt like water from a sewer. I cut myself time and again, to check if indeed it was true.
Rooh! He was the cause of my predicament. He needed to be hidden deep inside me. His voice to be stifled, if not killed. Friendships would have opened the door to Rooh and to keep him hidden, loneliness became my ally.
Guwahati, Assam, 1997
Leaving the all boys school and my small town, I headed to a bigger town to pursue my higher education. It was an opportunity to test myself. A new city, a co-ed school; being in the vicinity of more independent women would definitely help the latent sexual urges in me to come to fore. I was hopeful that Rooh would be killed soon.
It was a different world. The girls were unlike I had seen in my home town. They were beautiful, with the glow of freedom on their faces; their intelligence itself enough to attract any boy to them. But I..felt nothing. My eyes and my desires would only light up on the sight of men. Within that deep dark corner of my being, I could feel Rooh getting restless. I could no longer hold him captive. It was threatening to gnaw me from within, make me hollow.
To keep Rooh at bay, I had taken up boxing, a sport known to turn boys into men. The punches on the boxing bag; landed on the society which would never accept me, on Rooh for making me different. The anguish I felt within would come out on my opponents. The ring was my outlet.
It was then that I met him.
He was my opponent in the inter-college competition. The ring brought us in such proximity that his eyes mirrored mine. And in them I could see the same conflict, the same ruthlessness towards life, towards self. He too was on the journey of self-destruction.
Guwahati, Assam, 1998
Love. There could be no other word for what I felt towards him. It had been one year of being together. First as friends; opening the door for our Roohs to see the light and then slowly letting them entwine, as our bodies lithely did the same every time we would be together.
He, however, was still confused. For him this was an experiment.
“We would be over it soon, once we get bored of exploring each others bodies,” he would reason.
“But how do you explain the passion that enflames us with every single touch or eye contact?” I would counter him.
Meeting him had released me from the entrapment of loneliness. It made me aware that people like me exist. Even if there weren’t many there was this one. The fear of never knowing love, never feeling companionship, had sublimely changed to adventure.
But for him the same love intensified his fear. He became scared of himself. He would enter the boxing ring not to punch out his frustration but to get punched out of this love. I was losing him to himself. My closeness to him was my elixir and his poison.
New Delhi, 2005
For letting me exist. I was scared when you and him parted ways; to be sent back to the darkness, but you didn’t. What changed? Cities..? Perspective..?
“No.. we did. Love changed us, Rooh. Experiencing love made us one. I and you are no longer different. Together we have achieved ‘Roohaniyat’.”
But will we remain thus, when the society will know our truth? Hidden together we are happy, the black of the night our savior, but will we ever see a rainbow in the blue sky?
Mills and Boons: Romantic fiction novels
Tom Cruise: Hollywood Actor
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