Discovering the girl in meI wanted to tell my parents everything, but I was scared they would disown me after knowing my sexuality.
When I came to Kathmandu and got enrolled in the seventh grade of a school my parents could barely afford, there was this girl who looked like chocolate, smelled like tulips and her eyes reminded me of Narayan Gopal singing,
“Gajalu ti thula thula akha,
Tira bani pasye yo dilai ma”
I would spend all my time at school looking at her and that would still not be enough. I did not know what that feeling was, but I still loved it. I would question my friends, “which girl do you find the most beautiful?” and they would just glare at me like I was speaking some nonsense. With each passing year, my attraction towards that girl kept getting stronger. I was confused, as my friends loved talking about the kind of boys they’d want to date or marry, but that talk never appealed to me.
School got over and I went on to high school. And again there was this girl that I found attractive. I could not talk about my feelings to anyone because I was confused myself. All my friends had boyfriends, but I was looking for a girlfriend. I would stand in front of the mirror and ask myself if something’s really wrong with me. I tried to hide from my feelings by dating a number of boys from college, but I was never happy with any of the relationships.
Now that I think of it, I believe I’ve always known that I was a lesbian. I knew it but I was confused. When I was in college, I’d playfully say it in front of my girlfriends, making it seem like a lie. An interesting thing about lies is that when you say it again and again, it becomes the truth. That’s how my friends knew, and they were really supportive of my truth. The trick I pulled with my friends was never going to work with my parents though. I wanted to tell them everything, but I was scared that they would disown me knowing my sexuality. See, my parents lived in a village, a rural community where they’ve only seen relationships between a man and a woman and where same-sex relationships are an anomaly. I would think to myself on how to come out to my parents in the best way possible.
“Grandma, I’m gay,” a male voice spoke through my earphones.
“I knew it. Oh honey, how lucky that you’ll never have to deal with women your entire life.”
I was listening to the podcasts of people who came out to their families and this one was startling. Is it so easy and acceptable to people abroad? The next podcast was of a trans-man whose father gave up after his son never stopped buying Barbie dolls with pink dresses and pink palaces.
These podcasts weren’t helping me get anywhere. I shut my phone, took a deep breath and thought ‘I have to do it. I cannot live feeling disgraced anymore.’
It was during the fall when the days were shorter and the nights longer that I decided to visit my parents. The happiness in their eyes after seeing me was beyond description.
Of my parents, I feared baba a lot. Aama was my go-to person when I needed chocolates, books or some pocket money; she was my escape from all problems in life.
After dinner, while doing the chores, I sat down with her and asked, “Aama, don’t you think I’m different?”
“Of course you are, my child. You’re the first girl from the village to go to the city and study. I cannot tell how proud your baba and I are of you,” she said, shining brighter than the full moon in the sky while saying it.
“I mean I am…,” I had started speaking when she interrupted, “Hurry up inside or you’ll end up catching a cold,” before going inside with some plates.
“Aama, I like girls,” I said as I followed her inside.
“What do you mean you like girls?”
She had the expression of a clueless child who was given a new toy but did not know what to do with it.
I took a deep breath and started, “Aama, I knew it from the beginning. I never liked boys. Girls attract me. I want to spend my life with a girl.”
“What nonsense is this girl talking about? You must be bus-lagged. Go sleep and we’ll talk tomorrow,” my mother said, startled.
It was the longest night of my life.
“It is the city and its people. There is no discipline there; we should marry her off very soon.”
I could hear my father’s voice in the morning as I woke up. In a second I rushed to him and pleaded with him to listen to me.
“It was before I went to the city, baba. I always knew it but I was confused like you are right now. But now, I know it. Please don’t make me marry some guy because I’ll never be able to love him.”
“Who said you have to love him? You just have to be a good daughter-in-law and the rest will turn out fine. I will find you a boy before you bring any disgrace to the family,” he said.
“What about my studies? After investing so much money on my education, you don’t want me to complete it?”
“I regret sending you to the city. I kept pouring water in the sand and never knew about it.”
My father stood up and left the house.
“Aama, you’re my only hope. Please make baba understand. Please don’t marry me off,” I begged her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. See, you have beautiful lashes, rosy cheeks, a luscious body, but how can you love a girl? My child, you are confused. You will love your husband once you marry, mark my words,” my mother said, trying to convince me to listen to her.
Little did my parents know that I felt suffocated with every step I took in the house. This place was where I spent my entire childhood, but I wanted to get out of it as soon as possible. I was waiting for the dusk to arrive. I had my bags packed up; I would leave once everyone went to sleep. I was confused and did not know if what I planned to was the right thing or not. All I knew was that I had to get away from the house to keep my sanity. I tiptoed my way towards the door and carefully opened it so as not to make any sound. I took my first step outside and got startled to see my mother there with eyes full of tears.
“Chori, no matter who you are or who you love, you are still my child. I still don’t understand the things you talk about, but I cannot let you stay unhappy for the rest of your life. Baba will never understand, so leave before he finds out. Take this money and reach the city safe,” she said as she handed me a bundle of notes.
I broke down.
I hugged her one last time and left, never looking back because if I had, my mother’s eyes would have stopped me from running away.