There was silence. The sun was almost setting and was as bigger and orange as it can get.
Sunny got busy working on rose plants, plucking the leaves that had dark deposits from insects. Atul and I walked towards the rocks, actually four oddly shaped stone boulders the size of a bean bag that were scatterred under the canopys of pungai and parijatha trees.
It was Rex’s Idea to plant those trees, for the fragrance of their flowers and the cool breeze. The fact that the parijatha flowers bloom in the night had always fascinated him. And placing the boulders instead of an carved bench, gave it touch of being away from the tools of civilization. The pungai, when it bloomed, would transform the place into an little white and voilet flower bed..
We stood near the rocks, neigther inclinded to sit down…. my thoughts still pondering over the looming marriage. And Atul might also have been occupied by it, for it affected him at a more personal level than I. It was a topic, we hardly talked about.
“Isn’t there a law against adultery, that could penalize the gay guy cheating on his wife?” I said out loud, not particularly expecting an answer.
“There was! I think.” he stated calmly, adding “until we helped to revoke it”.
“What do you mean?”
“There is an adultery law, IPC 497 i think, that talks about punishing a man who has sex with another mans wife. But there is nothing that stops a married man from either having sex with another unmarried woman or a man.”, he added after a brief puase. “Of course, the law doesn’t consider gays exist, even though they have decrimilaized sex between men.”
He continued. “As far as the wife filing a complaint about his man having sex with other man (usually it is men), what would she say.. now that 377 does not consider sex between men illegal. The divorce cases that have been filed talk about many other charges, except gay sex.”
I was just listening to him and did not want to interrupt.
“Initially when this girl finds out, she will be too ashamed to take the matter to anyone. She would blame herself. When she gets over that phase, and reaches out to family for help, she will be told to keep quite. Unfortunately, even after knowing the truth, she has to endure him.
There are gay guys who have absolutely no respect for their wife’s views. I know of one case, where the guy left the girl saying he was unhappy with their sexual life. Not letting her know that he was gay and making her think she was the cause of his unhappiness.
Can you imagine what he put her through?”
His eyes were becoming moist.
He finally said, “I feel guilty sometimes Aryan.”
I let him be.
I knew he was referring to that short but traumatic fling (or as he would call a relationship) he had with Madhan in pune. On their third date, Madhan revealed he was married. But it was too late for Atul who was becoming insanely attracted to him. He overlooked the fact, when Madhan said he was not happy in the marriage and is considering a divorce.
Things were going good, until Atul wanted to go hang out with Madhan in the city, movies, dinners. Just spending time at home on weekends wasn’t good enough. Madhan resisted the idea vehemently. And when Atul insisted, Madhan skipped meeting him the following weekend, and the following weekend. There was no response to his calls. Atul was completely shattered. He even messaged saying, he would never ask him to take out. Atul was 22 at that time, and Madhan 32. He begged him to come back in his messages and promised he would not be chlidish again and ask him to take out.
After three months, Madhan called back. He wanted to meet. It was like the old times.
That night, Madhan said. He was put in Jail. His wife had registered a complaint against him and his family saying that they were harassing her. Atul was furious on her, how can she file false charges?
The relationship continued, but on Madhan’s mercy. Atul was never to discuss about Madhan to anyone. He obilized.
Madhan would come to Atul on some weekends and when he din’t he spoke on the phone. As time passed, sex and the talk were not sufficient, an emptiness and strange kind of disgust was eating out the love he had for Madhan.
He started going online. He chatted. And in one such chat, he came across a guy who when talking about mutual friends talked about Madhan. Through him, he came to know that Madhan was meeting that other guy over the weekends, weekends that he did not meet Atul. Atul realized that he was being used only for sex.
He broke up with Madhan.
He was sorry he was furious on Madhan’s wife.
He realized that, he couldn’t bear the thought of Madhan seeing someone else, even though he was not married to him. But he expected Madhan’s wife to be ok with her husband’s affairs.
The sun had set. We three walked into the house.