Personal Stories

Day Of Reckoning

Buoyed by optimism and the feeling that one gets before a life-altering exam result, I began my work for the day and soon realised that it was all a failed endeavour.

I am very selfish with God. I seldom visit their abode and often pass the small temple in our home without even a ‘hello, how do you do?’. But that morning I prayed and that too in the wee hours. A deathly silence surrounded me as I stood like a statue with my hands clenched tightly together, whispering a prayer for myself and my community.

After it concluded, I embarked on my day, sleepy and anxious after a strangely calm night.

An hour later, I was passing by a shiny building that I peered at through the windows of the metro. It was the red and white brickstones and the massive dome that had taken over our phones, our Instagram stories and our minds for the last 7 months – the Indian Supreme Court.

Something was different today. I remember thinking about how casually 5 people may walk into that building and change my life forever. My heart fluttered with the delicious aroma of true freedom and equality. My mind, like a good child, hoped that 17/10/2023 will be written in rainbow hues as the day India finally gave all its citizens marriage equality. The day that love triumphed.

Buoyed by optimism and the feeling that one gets before a life-altering exam result, I began my work for the day and soon realised that it was all a failed endeavour.

I was not going to get any work done. Out came my rainbow-coloured journal and I began doodling to relieve stress. What I made was (yes, us gays are predictable) a rainbow. As each colour filled itself, my anxiety also alleviated, replaced by hope and longing.

By the time the paper-rainbow appeared on my notebook, it was 8 AM, and the Court was supposed to go live at 10:30. I texted all my friends, talked to my mother and waited for history to finally right its wrongs, for society to recognise me and my fellow queers as equal citizens of a nation that we help build everyday.

A rude shock awaited me. Everyone knows that the judgement did not go in our favour. But I have to concede that when the CJI used terms like ‘partner’ and ‘queer’ and ‘non-heterosexual couples’, the world, for a short while, seemed to grow a little louder, as if the hearts of millions were beating faster with each word that he spoke.

Alas, the judgement did not pass through. 5-0 against marriage rights and 3-2 against the possibility of civil union. All we were left with were sweet-nothings, platitudes and a massive sense of loss and regret.

After the rollercoaster of emotions ended, as soon as it had started, I felt numb. It felt like someone had slapped me on the face and slapped hard. We had come out of the closet after so long, stood in front of fate and demanded that we get our rights. All we got were instructions. Instructions that said that we see the long road you have walked on, but you have to continue walking alone. That society will continue to ridicule you, abuse you, even fetishise you, but not accept you.

With a heavy heart and teary eyes, I pretended to work and end this bullshit of a day. It was like my rainbow-coloured heart, which had only now started showing its hues to the world, had once again turned into rock. Covered in my privilege and shielded by parents who are allies, I retreated into my cocoon. As did millions of other people. Millions who were hoping to escape abusive families, suffocating relationships and finally breathing free. I, the 1% who enjoyed familial acceptance, was unravelling at the seams and thus couldn’t even begin to fathom what closeted and abused queers were feeling.

The elitist in me thought of going abroad, even if in just a moment of weakness. But it was quickly brushed aside by my ally/mother, who in all her beautiful rage exclaimed ‘I did not raise my kids to be cowards, I didn’t raise them to be afraid and definitely didn’t raise them to run away from the battlefield when it gets too much.’

With these simple words, the fog lifted. The pity-party was over. It was time to pick myself up, dust the shoe stains off and stand tall once again.

Being a 1%-er alienates me from the struggles of others in the community, differentiates me from my kin, and gives me a shield for which I didn’t have to fight.  The wound healed faster but it was deep nonetheless and like a good brother, it is now time to lick the wounds of others, quell the endless stream of tears and move on, together.

We, the queer community and all the people who support us, are equal citizens of this country. It is our country, why should we be forced to leave it? If hateful bigots on the internet, internalised queerphobia and years of shame and guilt could not break us, an unfavourable verdict doesn’t even stand a chance.

We are bigger than hate, we are bigger than prejudice, we are bigger than all those who want to pull us down. For we are love in all its forms and love does not bow down.

‘You have burned in the fires of hell, my love. A little Sun cannot hurt you.’

4 thoughts on “Day Of Reckoning

  1. I stand with you lovely people who are as at fault as my left handed father was, it was not right at that time in 1940’s to be left handed in writing as the right was the holy hand and the left, not. He learned to write with his right but took his revenge when he built his house much later, the locks of all the doors of our house are placed such that it is easier for a left handed person to open them!!!! Stay Strong, stay firm, and stay in love and when (not if) the obviously right verdict comes along it will be revenge – best served cold!!!

  2. Well written piece, the price to pay for not “conforming” is high and sometimes bitter but by conforming nobody has made it big. Quoting Lord Alfred Tennyson in his 1854 poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade, about a failed British military action: “Theirs not to make reply / Theirs not to reason why / Theirs but to do and die.”

    Continue to contest, debate, oppose, and most importantly continue to hope, love, and have faith.

  3. आप सच्चे कलाकार हो अकुल
    आपकी वेदना का भावपूर्ण लेखन
    यह बताता है

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Akul Baiju is a journalist from New Delhi, who treats writing like a toxic ex and returns to it only when he is sad or anxious. You can often find him dreaming about his next meal or being buried in a pile of books. Say 'Hi!' to him at
Akul Baiju

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