Upon this realization, I felt like I’d been robbed of a queer role model, and the queer lens through which her poetry deserved to be studied. Moreover, I wondered how years of experts, critics and amateur readers such as I negated the very obvious sapphic symbolism in her nature poetry.
One thing that did strike me personally was a very off-hand, unassuming comment made by Lavanya when Ritu had just moved in with her: “It’s not as if we’ll be bringing any boys around.” “Yeah, for the neighbours, we’re just two friends living together.” The mere fact that women-loving-women relationships aren’t seen as romantic enough or normal enough to be accepted for what they are, that people will always assume two women to be friends and nothing more, has always perturbed me immensely.
Smiling, I turn to face her and interlace our fingers. I sweep my gaze over her; a deep blue bikini highlights her exquisite athletic body. When my eyes meet her striking blue ones, I lean closer and whisper softly, “I am now.”
What started as a mere joke turned into one of the most genuine and inspiring representations of Latinx LGBTQ+ people on TV, paving the way for shows like One Day at a Time and Brooklyn Nine Nine.
Ruhi finally broke into laughter and said, “Okay, fair. You can put me into something from your wardrobe that Shanaya’s distant relatives won’t glare at.”
“I know, Ruhi”, Jhilmil buried her head in Ruhi’s chest, “but lately it's like every conversation with her has become a test. I am constantly listening to decide if she is liberal enough to continue loving me if I come out to her, and she is constantly failing.”
She hit shuffle on her playlist as she walked but the moment she reached the bookstore and leaned in to grab a title, the wire from her headphones got entangled with her bag’s handle and they came off from one ear. The first thing she heard was, “No no, you don’t understand. This is not about my personal preference. You absolutely cannot have Chugtai in the poetry section.”
While Ruhi poured the chai from the kettle into two zig zag mugs, Jhilmil ran around the space picking up random objects and squealing in excitement, “Oh my god I love this!”
The lyrical voice of the woman sitting behind her was rising and falling even when she spoke the most mundane sentences as if she was constantly reading inscriptions off castle walls. No, Ruhi corrected herself. Not reading. Creating.
What I remember is for days, weeks after that, I feared that in my sleep I would be sent away to some freaky conversion camp or something. It got better over some time. But after a few months, the news was filled with reports of a bisexual girl in India who committed suicide after she ran away from a conversion camp her family forcibly sent her to after she came out to them.
Amal's eyes are wide now, her mouth hanging open like she lost the words that she was about to say. She blinks furiously, and Inaya's not sure if they're tears or just raindrops.
Riya enters the cemetery, dressed in a white summer dress with a basket full of scented candles and her phone. She walks calmly through the cemetery and places them in front of a head stone that read, ‘Bellah- Forever in your heart.’ Riya falls to her knees and takes a moment.
It has been almost two years since then, and a lot has changed for me. I have since been on dates with women, made a lot of queer friends, completed my Master’s degree which focused on queer literature, and came out to my parents. And yet here I am, trying to write this piece, not feeling at all like these were victories – my victories, our victories, or any victories at all. I think my queerness was theoretical up to that point in my life, and so my struggles were too.
Five out of six filmmakers were women. The odd one out, and first in the line up was 6:23 am by Geoffrey Breton (please note that the ‘Boys Shorts’ film category didn’t have a single female director, which is: not surprising).
For a community that struggles to be recognised as valid by external actors, more often that not, queer relationships feel the pressure to be portrayed as perfect, in order to increase that claim for validity.
predictably building up to a steamy lovemaking scene,
marked by the male gaze
and then there's the inseparability
I wasn't good
You weren't all bad
But that wasn't love
And that I understood.
You were like the grill of a window and me, a mere droplet of water trying to hold on but ultimately falling to the cold hard ground. Letting go was better, lest we should have amalgamated into one rusted being.
I know this is anonymous, I know this might never reach you, but just to throw this out in the universe, I am saying this, I saw you crying in the corner on the day of our cultural festival, and I hope whatever is troubling you, ease up soon.
She wants to weave a sentence with her feelings. Wants to use it as the thread, the needle, and the cloth. She wants to make it into ink and write it with the pen of her heart, spilled onto Jun’s paper. She wants her feelings to become not words but fact–unnecessary to be read or spoken, simply known without much thought.