“Turn off the lights.”
“No, I turned it off yesterday. Today is your turn!”
Ten minutes of bickering before the lights are finally off.
Scenes like this were pretty routine throughout my childhood, especially as I shared a room with my sister. Our bed had an imaginary line right between the middle and when we fought, she wasn’t allowed into my side (which was tough for her because she slept diagonally across!). We even had turns about who would wake up first to shower so that one could snooze for an extra five minutes on school days!
It drove my mum nuts – my habit of constantly wanting to be equal in all respects, not just with my sister but my male cousins! I nagged her and my questions ranged from the existential (“Why are women not allowed into this temple?”) to the speechless (“Why can’t I pee standing up?”) or even the provocative (“Why can’t I not get married at all?”).
Initially, I thought I was being a feminist – given that my initial journey was always cocooned and protective and had many rules of no coming home late, always being escorted and yes, always being given money when I needed. The payoff, I realized, many years later was high. It meant listening to rules somebody else had then set – in return for the protection and the financial backing parents/spouse provided. I remember cringing making ‘hisaab’ notes for money mom gave me as pocket money because it made buying cards look so frivolous or having to sit on the stairs till my mom’s temper had cooled down for being late or why I couldn’t stay out till the wee hours like my male friends could?
I often asked god in my many angry conversations with him as a teenager– Why wasn’t I born equal?
Perhaps falling in love with the same sex is God’s way of answering and justifying my belief that I was born equal and allowing me to traverse that journey. It meant:
That I could co-exist but not depend.
That work was not just for creative satisfaction but also for financial independence.
That my relationships would be as much give as take.
That I would have to kill that cockroach on the floor because no knight in shining armour would rescue me!
That the rules I made to govern any situation would have to be my own.
The interesting part about my journey for me – is having no role model, having no easy formula to happiness and no story line written even remotely for me! Am I like any of my gay friends – perhaps a shade like her, or her, or her! But on the whole, I am quite unique. (God’s ensuring that actually!) As I listen to coming out stories, I realize that my discovery of my sexual preference, my coming out, my turmoil and my philosophy is all just my own. The realization dawns on a daily basis for a girl who had mapped her 2.2 (Two of us and two kids) lifestyle now has to figure whether she wants to experiment, be monogamous or simply just go with the flow and there is for the first time – no right or wrong! And most importantly — for a girl who made 40 blank calls every day to the love of her life, I have now reclaimed my power back to say ‘for every call/text you make, you will get one!’
Is this the start of an equal existence? What do you think?