When Sulagna married Kshama five years ago in Canada, it attracted quite a bit of scandal back home in Mumbai. She could see the prying eyes of the neighbours whenever they came home to meet her parents, even more so than after they had adopted Kshitij. It was also only after Kshitij that her extended family was convinced that this was not a phase, and their niece’s perversity was there to stay.
But Sulagna was probably about to prove them wrong. She had filed for divorce.
Her marriage had begun to crumble around a year and a half ago. Or maybe it had begun earlier, but Sulagna had refused to acknowledge it. Kshama had been the first person she had ever been in love with. It’s difficult to let go of your first love, even after the love fades. It’s also difficult to acknowledge your failure in making your marriage work – even more so when you have fought against society to have that marriage in the first place.
Sulagna had only dated men when she lived in Mumbai. For most of this time, she hardly knew there were other options. But once she met Kshama, things changed. Sulagna stopped hiding behind the bi-curious tag, even to herself, and tried to love Kshama with all her heart. And it worked. Once she got accepted into a university in Canada, and Kshama also managed to get an on-site assignment in the country, she decided to come out to her parents and introduce them to the love of her life.
Apparently, her parents had suspected all along that she was lesbian. After all, she had never introduced them to any boyfriends. But once she told them she identified as bisexual – and couldn’t necessarily claim the “Born This Way” narrative – they seemed less accepting of the relationship. But a few months and the sharing of numerous LGBTQ resources later, they got on board. After all, they had always known their daughter was a rebel without a cause.
But to go to them now, and tell them that her marriage was over… and that she was swiftly falling in love with one of her male colleagues! Sulagna could not stand to think of all the uncles and aunties for whom she would end up validating that it was not natural for two women to be together – also the look of disapproval on her parents’ faces for having made them, as well as Kshitij, go through all of this, supposedly pointlessly. To have to deal with these while simultaneously facing ostracization by the very queer community around whom she had built her life in Montreal!
She will not apologize for her queer identity, the same way she will not apologize for liking a man. And she will continue to work to normalize her kind of experiences to her family and community in Mumbai, as well as her new family in Montreal. She hates the idea that she is living at the periphery of both the worlds she knows. Neither Here, Nor There. But she is determined to create her own identity from this space.