Alternative Title: A World Without Straight People.
(Please don’t judge a book by its cover. Please read the story. All characters in this story are fictitious)
This is the final installment of a multi-part series. Read previous stories here:
Assistant 1: “This is a bug”
Assistant 2: “I told you! You didn’t believe me”
Assistant 1: “Now I see a pattern”
Assistant 2: “What is it?”
Assistant 1: “Every tenth iteration, the objects are swapped.”
Assistant 2: “Really?”
Assistant 1: “Yes.”
Assistant 2: “I can’t believe this! Rajnikanth’s program never has any bugs. Maybe, this is intentional.”
Assistant 1: “What could be the intention? These objects don’t belong in their swapped places. They are determined to fail”
Right from the age of twelve, Sruthi knew she was different. At high school, when the other girls curiously talked about women, she was strangely attracted to men. “What is this? How is this even possible?” Sruthi was very confused as a young girl. She hoped that, with time she would change and become ‘normal’ like other girls. She hoped she would become gay.
Being gay was the only thing she knew. That was the rule of her world. That was the only accepted love. Men with men and women with women was the order of nature or so was it told. Gay was the way. Love and marriage happened within the same gender. After marriage, couples who wanted children had to select a suitable couple from the opposite sex and use non-physical insemination to have babies. This type of pregnancy happened at least twice between a pair of couples. By law, the first child belonged to the female couple and the second child belonged to the male couple. This is how Sruthi came to have a younger brother, Aniruddh. Aniruddh lived with his fathers, while Sruthi lived with her two mothers.
Sruthi was very attached to her brother. She loved him a lot. Aniruddh was her friend, her confidant. They didn’t have any secrets between them. Except the fact that Sruthi was attracted to people of the opposite sex. As much as she wanted to, Sruthi just couldn’t bring herself to come out to Aniruddh. She was scared. Sacred of being rejected.
After months and months of rehearsals, Sruthi finally came out to Aniruddh on her eighteenth birthday.
“What do you mean?” asked Aniruddh.
“I think I am attracted to men” said Sruthi.
“But how?” Aniruddh found it hard to comprehend.
“I don’t know”
“You are telling me, you are not attracted to women, but to men?”
“Yes” Sruthi nodded her head.
“Then, are you a hetero?” he asked, his tone of voice turning from confusion to disbelief.
Sruthi kept quiet.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes,” she slowly affirmed with a nod.
Aniruddh continued after a long pause. “Please don’t even mention this to your mothers. They will throw you out.”
Sruthi didn’t reply.
“Do you understand? Please don’t.”
She just stood there, quietly.
He pleaded, “This is not right, Sruthi. Have you thought this through? Can you imagine what will happen if other people came to know? It is illegal, Sruthi!”
“I am scared,” she said in a low voice.
“You should be. Ten years! Ten years in prison. And some countries even have a death penalty.”
What could she say?
“Please change yourself. This is wrong. Unnatural…” said Aniruddh. He didn’t wait for her reply. He was done. He just walked away.
Sruthi stood still as a statue. She had known there was a possibility of rejection and she thought she was prepared for it, but she clearly wasn’t. It hurt so bad! Why me? Why? What did I do wrong? Why am I straight? Tears started flowing from her eyes. Reality had hit her pretty hard at that moment. If Aniruddh, her own brother, so close to her age, couldn’t understand, she figured there was no point telling her two moms. Nobody was going to accept her. People like her had no place in the world. That day, she decided to close her closet doors forever. It was painful and suffocating but she had no choice. She forced herself to repress her feelings.
Fate opened the flood gates the day she met Dhanush at the airport. But fate had also put Sruthi behind bars today!
The cops caught Dhanush and her “red-handed” that morning at the train station. They were arrested for engaging in unnatural sex. Sruthi and Dhanush begged and pleaded with the two police men, but they didn’t show any mercy. It was not just the police; nobody showed them any mercy. Engaging in sex with the opposite-gender was the worst crime to commit. It was against the order of nature, culture, religion, almost everything in every rule book! Laws against male-female physical intimacy were very strict in Iran. Their fate was sealed the moment they were arrested. Sruthi and Dhanush were not even given a fair trial.
Three months later, the Iranian media announced to the rest of the world that Sruthi and Dhanush were sentenced to death. As the judgement day came closer, opposition arose from different parts of the world. But that changed nothing. After all, the Iranian president proudly claimed “There are no heterosexuals in our country.”
Sruthi was allowed one phone call to her family. That was her very last conversation with her parents.
“God will never forgive you. You will burn in hell” said her mother.
“Why? Why did you do this to us?” sobbed her other mother. “You shamed us. We will just tell ourselves that we never had a daughter.”
Sruthi didn’t say a word. The three months she had spent in prison had numbed her completely. For the first month, she cried her eyes out. Fear and frustration endlessly pained her. Slowly, her eyes had dried out. When she realized there was no hope, she gave up completely. She didn’t feel anything anymore. She was counting her days.
Dhanush had made peace with his fate too but he couldn’t forgive himself for the destruction he had brought on Sruthi. His mind grappled with the endless outcomes that could have resulted from a different course of action. What if I hadn’t talked to her on the flight that day? What if I hadn’t given her my email address? The guilt was a constant companion and it consumed him. “Sruthi, I am sorry. Please forgive me,” he sobbed endlessly all alone in his prison cell.
Judgement day came. They were to be hanged together that day. That was also the first day they would be together after several months.
Alternate Universe. Planet Earth. Country Iran. Day: June 19, 2005.
“Two male teenagers identified only as “M” and “A”, were hanged in Mashhad, Iran, July 19 for having sex with each other, the Iranian Students News Agency reported. The teens, one aged 18 and one under age 18, reportedly were convicted by Court No. 19 under Islamic Shariah law, which punishes homosexual acts with death.”
The stadium was packed with people, but strangely there was complete silence. They were asked to step out of the police van. Their eyes were covered with a black cloth and their hands were cuffed behind them. They were taken to the stage where they where about to be hanged. An official on the stage started reading the sentences while the crowd watched in a state of shock.
M and A were unable to see what was happening. They were about to be executed for engaging in homosexual acts which was considered against the order of nature. Both were teenagers!
While the sentence was being read, M, realizing those were his last moments decided to talk to A.
“A! Are you there? Can you hear me? ” he moved his head in either directions, without a clue whee A was standing.
“Yes! Yes! I am here.” A replied to him and tapped his foot on the ground, indicating where he was. They were standing next to each other.
“I am sorry” said M. His voice broke and he started crying.
“No! No! It is not your fault. Please! Please don’t cry” A couldn’t control his tears, he was sobbing too.
“Is this going to be our last conversation? No. Let’s talk about something nice. Let us think about something positive” said M clearing his throat.
A nodded his head and cleared his voice and then he asked, “So! Are you like “that“?”
“You still doubt that? I will kick your ass!” retorted M. For a moment M forgot his pain and laughed.
Judgement was read in full. They both were taken to the stage. The ropes were lowered and wrapped around their necks. The man holding the lever for the ropes looked at the person who read the judgment for the signal to go-ahead.
At the very same moment, in the alternate universe, Sruthi and Dhanush were being executed.
“This happens every 10th time. Heterosexuals and homosexuals are getting swapped.” Assistant-1 complained to Rajnikanth.
“I know.” Rajnikanth wasn’t surprised.
“Why? They don’t belong there. Look what happened to Dhanush and Sruthi… and then to A and M.”
“I know what happened,” Rajnikanth replied calmly.
“Why do you place them in the wrong environment? They are not accepted there, don’t you know?” Assistant 1 was a bit upset.
“I accept everyone,” said Rajnikanth “I create only two things. Love and Life. I didn’t create race, caste, class, gender or sexuality. I didn’t make rules for love. My only rule is to love.” He continued, “They corrupted their environment. They made their own rules. They decided some are acceptable and some are not. For me these things don’t matter. But they have to correct it themselves. I am a creator and not a controller. I respect their independence. Freedom and liberty are my gifts to them. ”
The assistants listened in silence.
Rajanikanth continued “The program swaps lives for a reason. These 10% are my agents of change. They push the envelope. They show the rest of the world what is wrong with them. They reflect like a mirror. They are my special 10%. They are in my heart. They are in a special place”.
1) I would like to thank Gaysi editor The Cathartist for her crisp edits and creative input.
2) Disclaimer: Though the Iranian gay executions are the sad reality of the cruel world we live in, the conversation between A and M during their execution is fictional.
3) The alternative title of the story “A world without straight people” indicates that Sruthi and Dhanush’s world is a place where being Straight is viewed as an abnormality, like how it is to be Queer in our world. (In the beginning of the story, Sruthi sees two men with kids at the check-in counter. They are a couple.)
4) Sruthi and Dhanush’s interactions through out the story, are very similar to how Queer people cruise, chat, talk and meet.
5) Aishwarya’s character is comparable to a typical straight guy who hits on women and uses beaten-to-death pick up lines (‘You have a beautiful smile’, ‘We have met before’ etc..)
6) I used Rajanikanth as a creator instead of God, just to make it fun. He is God, isn’t he? LOL!