“How long can you pretend to be someone you are not?” I ran a tender hand over Sharon’s hair.
“But there isn’t an alternative!” she whispered through her sobs.
“It’s all in your mind. Once you decide to cross over that one hurdle, everything will sort itself out.” I tried to reason with the girl who had once helped me put my act together.
“Nothing will ever be sorted for us. Not now, not ever.” her haunted eyes reminded me of my own torment. In an instant my past ran through my eyes.
“There is no such thing as homosexuality. You are just sick!” I felt his fingers dig into my arms. His mouth twisted in unfathomable anger.
I struggled to keep my wits about me and whimpered, “I do not expect you to understand any of it. Just set me free.”
I knew I was pushing my husband over the edge. Sanjay was a high profile investment banker, who moved around in affluent circles of the city and beyond. And I was his trophy wife. A convent educated, professionally qualified woman, who dressed up well and held his arm at social events that invited the top brass of the business world.
“What’s come over you?” Sanjay confronted me, “I know that you haven’t been yourself for some time now. I have been giving you time just to avoid a face-off. But divorce?”
Sanjay was right. The five years of our marriage, I lived a dispassionate life going about it like morning ablutions. We were both qualified and professionally successful. Me not as much as him, but still! I did not have much to complain about. After all I had all the comforts of life at my disposal.
And I had Sia, my three year old daughter who completed my world. I had almost tricked myself into believing that all was well.
But I felt something continuously gnaw at me. I was becoming hollow from within. Every time Sanjay came close to me, which was quite often, I cringed. Afterwards, I lay cursing myself and the God who created me, crying myself to sleep.
Sia was the only source of joy and hope in my life. I was relieved that my motherly instincts were intact. I was normal that ways.
I thought that I was suffering from a disease, a psychological abnormality. So, I started to read up about…ahem….my condition. Google was the latest go to source for any kind of information. Know what? It also kept my quests anonymous.
I had tears of joy, when I figured that there were others like me. The rich and the famous across the world were declaring their unconventional sexual preferences in public. ‘Coming out of the closet’ that’s the term they used.
It gave me hope. I could live a life being myself.
“It’s just that I can’t make a good wife anymore.” I twiddled my thumbs, my eyes fixed to the floor.
“Has this got something to do with that new friend of yours?” Sanjay dared me to talk about Raisha. Raisha was one of his clients. An accomplished but notorious author, she had come out a couple of months ago. Once I met her, I started to crave her companionship. It was then that I finally came to terms with my sexuality.
“You do know that she is an orphan and a loner who is not answerable to anybody.” Sanjay reprimanded, “But you are.”
“I often wonder how lonely she must be.” I grumbled through my parched throat. I sighed noisily and raised my eyes to meet his. That’s when he saw that I was beyond bothering.
“I want you to leave this country once the divorce comes around. I will sponsor the necessary arrangements” He finally relented, “After all, I do have a reputation to keep.”
He must have read through the question that loomed large in my widened eyes.
“Never ever try to meet Sia. Stay away from her pure and innocent soul.” And then came his final blow, “I am sure you wouldn’t want to malign your parents’ respectful position in the society, here in India. So forget Raisha and go find someone else for all I care.”
That’s how he pumped his deflated ego. By cutting me off from everyone I loved.
“Our tribe is growing. We have support. We don’t need to hide anymore.” I said to the petite girl who I met a year after I came to Florida. She helped me put my life back in order. And I found the courage to love again.
“You are being foolishly optimistic. The ones out there are shit famous and rich. They’re untouchable.” She ran her palm over my cheek, making me privy to all her fears and pain.
“Do you not read the newspapers? Every other day there is a homophobic attack on a commoner in this city.” she shook her head hopelessly, “The only way to ensure our safety is to remain under wraps” she hugged me with all her might.
I rubbed her back to comfort her. But my own thoughts were going helter skelter.
It wasn’t just about me or Sharon. Hundreds were coming out on the streets to fight for our likes. Foundations were being laid for a world where no one would have to live in the hiding and stifle their happiness to fit in.
With my mind made up, I let her go. Then I asked her to decide the future of our relationship.
“You take to the streets tomorrow and walk the Pride Parade holding my hand, or it’s over between us.”
I gasped as Raisha’s words from two years ago came rushing back to me,
“You’ve got to take pride in being my soul-mate. You ask me to flee to a country across the globe to be with you. Why? I am no squatter here. I definitely didn’t come this far, fighting so much, just to get back into the closet!”
This is an entry for UniK-4, a 1000-word writing event at ArtoonsInn.
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