My dad always had this one complain, “When will you grow up!” till one day he stopped complaining. And no, his death didn’t change a thing. I believe (some) people hide behind (their) immaturities, pretend that they don’t take life seriously and that they are well-in tuned with reality. They are invincible. But the reality of their reality is that they are simply scared; nervous to face their real self and even more petrified to show others their real self. And I was no different.
Coming from an affluent family, I have always lived a well provided materialistic life. Keeping up with appearances came all too easily. My family thinks I am this disconnected child, least bit emotional and extremely spoilt. Friends think of me as this happy bubble; funny, spunky and content with weekend party scene. The rest think of me as this strong headed individual, straight forward and balanced. And me, well, I let people see me as whatever I felt the situation demanded at the time.
I was being calculative. So I dated men, played along with the matrimonial charade, portrayed myself as this hamdard of sexual minorities (while the real me was screaming to jump out of the closet and reveal itself). For me, you see, this was a successful self protection plan.
What I failed to take into account though was the growing strength of my pretentious self. Which I was forced to comprehend with as a result of another failed relationship. You see- there was love, there were dreams, desires, and plans for a happy future but I was doing zilch to change my reality. I bolted away, time and time again, at the very sight of circumstantial calamity. I continued to go through marriage proposals leaving my lover bordering on uncertainty because to me it was an easy way out. The very thought of family confrontations was frightening. And while the other stood there as my comfort, saying the right things, doing the right things – I was only too scared to stand up for myself.
But as they say…there is only so much one can take for granted.
As a spiraling effect (more like – life is anyway shitty, let’s make it shittier) I came out to my siblings (and close friends) in the most bizarre fashion. But I guess such situations are never easy, even when planned. “It’s a disgrace for an Indian family”, a dear friend remarked, out of concern and nothing else. I agreed on the weight age of his words. God! I have lived with this dreaded thought almost my entire adulthood.
I wonder though what’s really disgraceful – forever being afraid, forever cheating the ones you deeply care about, forever keeping up with appearances.
I am not saying that life has been blissful ever since. Some have been fantastic (though being probed with questions like “So you are not attracted to men at all?” and “So who is the man in the relationship?” isn’t an amusing experience). Some think of it as a phase, just because I don’t have a boyfriend. Family, they continue to live in denial. But I am hopeful they will come around sooner or later.
As for me, I have been busy cleaning up the mess. But yes the nightmares have finally stopped. And as filmy as it may sound, it’s a case of being re-born…a sense of freedom. A new beginning, a time to get acquainted with the real me.
Lastly at the expense of sounding preachy, this is what I have to say – Its okay to be scared. We all are. But there will come a point in life where a decision will have to be made. And it’s best that it’s made by you rather than dictated by your circumstance.
What is Freedom
For him or her, for you or me?
What does it mean
To each one of us?
Freedom means to love and to share,
To help and to care
To be unafraid
And to love everyone.
by Safdar Hashmi