My Friends Were There When Family Failed

The mornings of Mumbai winters aren’t particularly chilly but that day I felt chills run down my body and it sort of made me shiver but then again.

I faced a terrible situation two years back with a relative of mine which left me numb and made me cocoon myself. Which in turn made me lose my friends; it is quite a possibility to lose friends when you form these walls around you. Of course, there are good days in life too. I thought I have someone who will support me and it gave me all the courage to come out to my mother. I didn’t have to come out to my sister – she stereotyped me as one the gays who like shopping. My sister and I were shopping, she just turns to me and says- I am so happy you’re not straight. I was taken aback, baffled, bit cynical, and felt a bit invaded too.

However, this is about what transpired when I came out to my mother dearest. My mother’s sister and my cousins were visiting us back in December of 2017. There were talks about me getting married. The mornings of Mumbai winters aren’t particularly chilly but that day I felt chills run down my body and it sort of made me shiver but then again. I have this hand tremor thing, where my hands usually tremble if sugar level goes down. I think it was the nervousness that made me shiver a bit. My mother and I were the only people who woke up early that morning of the 11th of December. Mother was doing some chores and asked me, “Your aunt and cousins are asking about your marriage, what do you wish to do? Should I start looking out for proposals for suitable brides? If you have someone in your mind let me know”.

I was wide-eyed since I had decided today is the day I come out and she started asking me these questions. I had a toothbrush in my mouth. I gargled like crazy for 10 minutes or more than that. I raise my hand and show her that I am gargling and cannot speak. She rolls her eyes and says she doesn’t know where all my manners went. I breathe in, texted one of my favourite individuals- someone I adore with hug emoticons- a self-comforting thought to imagine hugging him. I start telling my mother how I am different, how I am not like the others, how I could never like girls. I go on jadedly. I don’t remember half of the conversation to be honest. I was mumbling. She asks me whether I have had sex with a man. I denied (spoke the truth sort of) and re-virginised myself, especially because I haven’t had sex in a year and seven months. She says you’re not gay if you haven’t had sex with a man. I tell her to take your time mother but it is the truth. She was taken aback and was in denial.

There was a big drama but since our voices were hardly audible, it could have very well been a drama for dust specks floating about that I was observing in the winter sunlight. I still felt a chill and I shuddered. She went on and on telling me how I will never find anyone, how I would never be loved, I would despise myself, I would be staying alone my whole life, nobody would love me like my family does, nobody would ever be there for me, I will end up alone and miserable and I will think to myself when I am old and alone, I should have listened to Mamma and married someone.

I don’t care about the family. All I could do is wonder whether mothers curse their children. She went further and told me just because I get attention from people or someone of similar sex doesn’t make me gay. Whoever is giving me attention is just playing with my mind, I thought if playing with my mind meant making me feel good about myself rather than making me feel like some waste of a human being, I was ok with that someone playing with my mind. In that moment of our heated but soft arguments, I thought of my then romantic beau again, how nicely he speaks to me, even if I do make any mistakes. Never did he say I would end up alone. She asked me to stop talking to boys altogether and distance myself from boys because people are changing me. I told her I have someone and I will talk to him.

I was saddened and numbed at my heart, but I was just waiting when I could get ready and leave for work and call my romantic involvement (still one of my favourite humans) and tell him whatever happened. Well even if we were romantically involved, I thought more of him as someone who will care for me and will be there to support me. And that’s exactly what he still does- care for me. It was because of him I felt so strong and liberated. I felt I could do something. When I told him mother asked me not to talk to boys, he texted- ‘Tell her you have me, and you WILL talk to me!’ I was so taken aback because those were my words. I sent a quick selfie. He texts back ‘Someone is glowing’. Beau and I talked and somehow the focus of our conversation shifted to Love Jihad. He then asked me what will happen if my mother knows about his religion. It will be Love Jihad of a whole different kind. I laughed heartily I recall. I thank him again and again, and I know it’s all because of him but he says it’s all my strength, whereas he is the one to endow that strength on me.

Your family may or may not accept you the way you are. After 7 months of my coming out to my mother on 28th of June, I was getting ready for work and complaining about how I don’t have enough clothes to make me look good. Mother says what will you do by looking good, for whom do you wish to look more ‘good’. I joked and said, my boyfriend. After a moment of silence, mother starts speaking, “See whoever you’re seeing bring him home, let me meet him. Nowadays everything is legal in most countries, I will get you married. People will ask questions, I will tell them he is my son and times are changing. The vanity in which you said my boyfriend in contrasting humbleness I am telling you to bring your boy home, start a family, we could get surrogacy done too. Karan Johar and Tushar Kapoor are fathers. Times are changing and I have streaks of modernity too.”

I had thought having support meant someone I could run to and take a refuge at their place but it didn’t happen to me. I don’t have a place to take refuge at when mother decided not to pack my tiffin for 3 days. I didn’t have someone to be there with me and eat with me. I would eat alone. Yes, I talked on the phone and took pictures of my food and shared it with beau, yet I felt alone. I felt terribly unloved, I felt miserable, I felt bad, I felt terrible about surviving in the overall situation. Though it’s been some time since I came out and things have changed- beau is no longer my beau (still remains a friend), things at home still seem unsettled, mother used to ask me persistently to marry a girl (showed me pictures), I was left alone to the mercy of my own thoughts feeling helpless. Because no matter how many phone calls you make or texts you send, at times you need your friend to be there with you physically. You read a text that says – I am here for you. You don’t wish to be rude but you wish to say ‘You’re not here or wherever here is’, instead you type I know you’re here. That’s the only emotional security that you have for now to rely on and you learn to cherish it.

Coming out does free you from an unknown weight that is weighing down on your conscience. You will know if your parents do really care or not, or it’s just a facade that would be easily washed if you are not what they want you to be. I don’t know if this is a coming out experience or a cautionary tale about how to keep your friend(s) closer. What remains is a fact that coming out is liberating but it can be lonely if you are dealing with the situation at hand and you want to run somewhere to someone or anywhere to anyone.

I have few friends, two to be precise. One of them isn’t in the same city as mine, another I didn’t know whether I could rely on her (now I know I can). But I am grateful for my friends who stuck around with me even though I come with a lot of emotional drama. While coming out is important, you also need financial independence and at the same time, you need to have a friend or group of friends that could support you when your family doesn’t support you.

About the guest author

Akshay Wagh

28 year old man tries to read and gather experiences from the world of art, history and architecture. Day time Software Quality Analyst, full time but mostly absent father of Lhasa, lover of flowers and rains, and borderline acrophobic.
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