“Mom, why do you love me so?”
When I was 8, Mom yelled, “Arun! Stop behaving like a girl! You’re a boy!” I mumbled to myself, “Mom, why do you hate me so?”
When I was 12, Mom yelled, “Arun! You are not getting another piece of that cake! Look at how fat you’ve become!” I mumbled to myself, “Mom, why do you hate me so?”
When I was 16, Mom yelled, “Arun! Get off your brother’s back now! Go to your room this instant! I mumbled to myself, “Mom, why do you hate me so?”
When I was 20, Mom yelled, “Arun! Why can’t you be as dedicated and hardworking as your brother is? I am so disappointed in you!” I mumbled to myself, “Mom, why do you hate me so?”
When I was 24, Mom yelled, “Arun! Just because you’re earning a monthly income that doesn’t mean you forget how to respect your parents!” I mumbled to myself, “Mom, why do you hate me so?”
When I was 27, it all changed for me.
“So, what do you want for breakfast?” Mom asked me while she performed the daily chore of making the bed.
I looked strangely nervous in response to an everyday ‘Mom’ question like the one that was just put forth to me. I could feel the sweat on my brow in spite of the ceiling fan blades rotating at full speed. My hands were bizarrely cold and numb on a hot Sunday morning resulting in the loss of my sense of touch. My heart beat so fast, I felt like it would come up my throat any moment then. I gulped hard and finally had the courage to say, “Mom, there is something that I’ve wanted to tell you.” She immediately looked towards me. That was the first time I had eye contact with her since that morning. That very instant I sheepishly shifted my gaze to the ground. “Please understand this does not change me as a person….” I began wailing continuing to stare towards the ground. “I’m gay!” I randomly blurted out in between sobs. “You’re gay?” Mom instantaneously asked me with utter surprise. I could see, she began tearing up too. She caught hold of my hand and sobbed, “Why are your hands cold? It is ok, Arun! I only wish you told me earlier. You are my son at the end of the day. I love you no matter what.” Did my mom just say that? Did she just accept the fact that her son was gay in a patriarchal society where the man in the house is supposed to be a man and nothing remotely effeminate? To my utter disbelief, she just did. What followed this unexpected bizarre reaction from Mom was a 10 minute hug, chunky tears and a brief lesson for Mom on homosexuality in urban India.
As soon as Mom stepped out of the room, I mumbled to myself, “Mom, why do you love me so?”