It’s been over a month since I’ve returned to London, from my trip to India. I’ve been wanting to write about what happened there with my parents, but haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I think I’m finally ready.
I landed in Bombay in the first week of December & all was going well. My parents were doting over me, feeding me all kinds of delicious noms and I was just lying around, doing nothing but watching TV, shopping and eating.
One evening, my mother and I were chatting about something and one subject led to another and the issue of The Girl and I came up. It was the usual litany of how they’d never accept it and how it made no sense. I told her that I didn’t understand how she wouldn’t educate herself about LGBT issues and stuck to her ignorant views on this issue. That REALLY set her off and she refused to move past the ‘educate’ bit and was upset about how I called her ‘uneducated’. That’s not what really happened, but it’s the usual pattern of arguments with my mom and me.
She left the room in angry tears a few minutes later, but not before letting me know how she would never acknowledge any child that The Girl and I would have and that she wouldn’t come visit me again.
I was really hurt and upset but called out to her to come back and said I was sorry if I’d said something hurtful. She didn’t come back and I was in no mood to go apologise to her for standing up for myself.
Later that evening, when my dad got home, they came up to my room and by then I had worked myself up into a big cloud of sorrow and self-pity & I had tears streaming down my face. What followed was so surreal that I didn’t know how to react. My mom started by saying she was sorry and to please forgive her. But in the same breath she told me how I’d made them outcasts in the family. Then my dad said to her that it was ok and that there was nothing they could do and that they just had to live with this and do the best.
This went on for a while and I have never wanted so badly to just disappear. I almost got up and walked out of the house, but I was so worn out and exhausted.
After all this happened my dad insisted that we go eat dinner out at a restaurant like we had planned earlier in the day, before this drama had happened.
Finally at about midnight I was back in my room & I locked my door and called The Girl, who was still in London. ‘I’m sad’, I said to her. While I was explaining to her what had happened, in hushed tones, I heard a knock on my door and my mom calling out to me. I told The Girl that I’d call her back and opened the door.
My mother stood there, looking frail, and she wailed, ‘Come back to us. Please come back to us.’ She burst into sobs. And broke my heart.
I held her and told her I hadn’t gone anywhere. I told her that if she meant that I should come back to India then I would do that, but I’d bring The Girl with me.
‘But it’s not normal!’, she cried.
That really hurt me and I just said to her, ‘Ok Mama. Then I’m abnormal. Find me a cure and I’ll change.’
She looked totally taken aback by that.
I then asked her why she had such a problem with The Girl. She knew how kind and smart and wonderful The Girl was. She knew how well The Girl is doing in her career and and well she treats me.
To that came her, priceless, response: ‘Why can’t you find a man like that?’
I asked her how she’d feel if I asked her to find a woman like my father.
Again she looked taken aback. Then she said, ‘All you do is argue with me and say hurtful things.’
I reminded her about all the times I called her from London and how she ignored everything I said about The Girl and changed the subject. How she said she would not acknowledge any child I had with The Girl and how hurtful those things were.
She responded by saying there was no point talking to me about this and then went back to her room.
The next morning, in true desi denial style, nobody said anything about the previous day. Everything was alright with the world and my parents were back to their pampering ways with me.
The rest of my trip was drama-free.
On the surface I was ok. I had a lovely short trip with The Girl and a couple of other friends in Madras and Pondicherry. I met a lot of cousins, bought a lot of lovely clothes and jewelery and ate everything that I wanted to, without worrying about my weight. But through it all there was a heaviness in my heart that hasn’t completely left me, even now. The funny thing is that I am no longer angry with my parents and I feel a deep sense of empathy for them. I don’t understand this because I know I still don’t have their support and I know they’re still homophobic. But the way my mother came crying to my room, just made me see how vulnerable she was and made me want to protect her.
I’m not quite sure what I’m trying to protect her from and I’m quite aware that I’m also vulnerable and need them to protect me. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to accept and love them unconditionally, even if they don’t return the favour.