memories


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.

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It was a long drive home… It is two states away from where I live, more than eight quarter miles..

I would have never imagined myself being there on the last night.. the last night of a long weekend and the last night of a short romance… It is, the only four day weekend, I have in the year. Thanksgiving. It is a tradition to spend time with family and friends.. and I choose to spend it with friends and Him.

I broke the first rule. “Never offer yourself for a guy who is out of town”. Oh, and when one rule is broken.. there is no point in maintaining other rules.. and so I found out, however painful it may be.. I can’t have rules! at least not when it comes to gravitating towards a Guy!

the drive was slow.. ten miles per hour on an seventy five mph inter-state highway, there was slush all over from the first snow of the season.. and the cars were following each other very religiously. they were following the tracks laid down by the vehicles in front of them.. and in turn reinforcing the track they just followed.. a slight diversion from the track, which was now marked clearly by the layer of snow and ice that was untouched by the brutal black tires.. will send the car off the road and possibly into the valley.. or will just make the car turn around and block the entire traffic following it…

on one side of the road was a mountain, the rocks frosted with ice and snow. On the other side.. the snow capped hazy blueish pines glowing in the misty moonless night.. i would have enjoyed the peace and gloominess of the sight.. but tonight, it was very painful…

painful to have an empty seat next to me.. i turned on the radio.. and quickly tuned it to a different channel.. i could not bear to hear the same songs that i heard with him moments ago…

I looked towards the empty seat…. as I reluctantly followed the tracks..

It all started a month ago..

He was sitting on a tall legged bar chair, right across the entrance of the dance room in Club Cafe..long slender legs.. one stretched out, surely touching the floor and the other folded in.. one hand on the round table and the other holding a glass. dressed in full sleeved, round neck blue sweater.. tight jeans..  white and yellow stripped shoe..

he stood out in the crowd… an east-indian face amidst caucasians, blacks, asian and hispanic…that was the first time I saw him..

It was boys night out.. we moved to friday instead of our usual saturday to watch the Halloween Costumes.. another colorful night, that brings out the creative best..

There was an angel with only feathers, an underwear, more like a thong and of course a fine chiseled body. I don’t remember how long we stood around him.. but when we finally made to the corner which was the only place with some space.. the extreme corner where there is a tiny dance floor..

There was something unusual about Club Cafe that night, it was as if Club cafe had put on new costume, it had shed its typical snobbish self.. there were exchange of pats.. flirts.. smiles.. and numbers..

we saw a guy dressed as Nurse, two guys in bath robes, navy men, police officer, a greek noble with a golden crown. and there was a monkey, an corrupt politician. and the best of all Ellen DeGeneres.. she was so Good she could fill in for the real Ellen.. (later I was told she got the best costume for the night…. )

I saw Him again.. he was going for another drink.. he wasn’t smiling.. neither was he not smiling.. there was a certain indifference in his presence..  it was as if he was there and also not there..

One of the boys.. decided to go into the front room and the rest of us followed.. we stood there watching people walk in.. I was still intrigued by the look on his face.. was he new to Boston? does he have friends? Should I go talk to him?

It started to itch..

So I set out to scratch it… back into the dance room.. squeezing my way through the crowded room.. I am sure I must have stopped to see the angel, but I don’t remember anymore….

He was sitting alone in the chair with his drink.. and I walked straight to him.. he looked up at me..

“Hi, I am Aryan”… I said…

“I know”.. he surprised me.

Surely, I don’t forget people.. I sat next to him, waiting to hear more..

“G Aryan.. I have seen you on my friends list on Facebook.”.. he offered as a way to bring me out of puzzlement.

“Which friend?” …. and so we got to talking…

The next thing I remember.. he was hanging out with me and the boys in the front bar room…. It would have been hard to tell that we all had just met him..  He still intrigued me, but he didn’t seem like a stranger or a like new face..

He felt like someone I have known for a while..

Have you ever met a guy for the first time and have felt that you have known him from a long time?

I can only blame that familiarity on the trust that gets attached to a person who gets introduced through a friend. OK.. he wasn’t literally introduced, but he and I had a common friend.. a friend that I trust….

after all these years…with all those loves from childhood to teenage and into the prime of youth.. it is all too familiar now, the anxiety in the moments leading to the rendezvous moment.. described with butterflies in the stomach or the numbness of the thoughts..

it seems like i am living just for this one moment. everything before and whatever will come after that doesn’t seem to matter.. and yet it is all about what i have done in the past and what i will do in the future will be decided by this rendezvous moment..

it is at 4pm today.

i have a few hours to kill before i start driving towards the rendezvous and i know there is nothing i can do till then, except may be continue doing the work that i am supposed to do.. but can work provide me with that sweet distraction that i so badly need right now or should i call on some of my friends.. what is it that i can do which doesn’t require my attention or which can take my undivided attention..

how can i stop thinking about the rendezvous moment…

Big B.. yes.. the thoughts of him certainly can keep me occupied..

the one who gives me immense joy and at the same time all this anxiety. what is it about him that drives me so crazy.. is it his unwavering confidence with which he can walk into the bar.. and pick up the guy he wants? or is that tender caressing with which he took me in in the middle of the night, feeding me grapes and blue cheese omlette.. or is it his cut throat accomplishments in the financial markets of the big apple or could it be his passion of world cultures and music.. and of course how can i forget.. his charming sweet words and the passionate animalistic love..

alas…. it is a paradox.. for the same reasons, we can never be together..

the conflicts of our careers and ambitions drift us apart… and so why should either or both of us give up that pleasure of walking into the bar and taking what we can get? why should our tender caress be deprived their need for being expressed? how can the passionate animal be tamed to be satisfied with occasional reunions? and so we move on..

carrying with in me.. those memories of moments that we had together.. that i could have not had in any other way….

and at the rendezvous moment.. i will find out.. if i will be carrying with me.. anything more than those happy moments.. the cause for my anxiety..

Almost a decade ago, but still very vivid and clear. I was walking with my best friend from college and I knew something was different between us. I could sense that he wanted to tell me something but didn’t know how to say it.. And I knew what was going on in his mind. Well not because he is my best friend but because I know he knew what I did the previous night..It was one of those late nights in college when you hang out on the roads when everyone is sleeping. Drive like crazy, have a couple of beers and crash at someone’s place in a pile. We were a bunch of eight guys.. and that night after a late night party and a long session of pulling each other, we finally went to sleep. I was sleeping next to him like every other time.

In the middle of the night, as if in a dream I was awakened by one of those late night hanky panky things that happen. It wasn’t my best friend but the guy who was next to me and the one who usually has more beers. This wasn’t the first time though. It started a year ago accidentally one night when I happened to crash with him. Since then, I know he would do it at every chance he gets and if he has had beers. (seemed like a lame excuse but whatever suits him..)

This night however, I wasn’t expecting it since we were in a group.. Anyways, it seemed like I had just fallen asleep and he woke me up. I tried to calm him down but hey.. even i like a little adventure. Torn between keeping it a secret from my best friend and the guilty pleasure.. gave it up after a couple of minutes.. I wonder if I gave up since I had a feeling that my friend was not sleeping and was aware of what was going on.. or was it .. (I dont thing there was any other reason..)

That night, I hardly slept. After a couple of hours of turning back and forth, I walked into the dawn. And kept walking, till I was tired to fall asleep again..

So between classes, we were standing there – usually we would joke around or talk some stupid things, but today I had the feeling that something very sick is going to happen. Since it was inevitable and he was equally disturbed, I asked him.. ‘Do you want to talk about last night?’.

He was not at all surprised, but instead he said -‘yes, just one thing. you have to control your sexual libdo’. Silence took over and it had own for good this time. Things were different between us after that. We still are good friends, but not best.. thats all.

I wonder who was more hurt, he or me. I kept thinking, would he have that tone of accusation if I wasn’t with a guy. It is hard to say, because having pre-marital sex isn’t so common after all. I know I am kidding. Of course he was accusing me for having slept with another guy.

Over the years, there have been many more moments between us where he would ask me to try and become normal. And over the years, it has just made me stronger every time. What started as a feeling of guilt is now a feeling of what had to happen happened. His tone from accusation has now become a tone of vexation.

If straight can have hanky-panky and brag about it, why not a queer brag about his hanky-panky?

It was in April years ago, when I was twenty two. My first year in Bangalore. Little did I know, how many more first things I had in line that year. Apart from my first time living away from home and my first time in a job…

As a new bachelor in town, after a days work and evening supper, reading fictions was my favorite pass time. On one such night, I was intrigued by the giggles of my room-mate who was busy chatting with his new found online friends. Ah, that sounded like fun, so thats when I happened to login into IndiaTimes chat and couldn’t believe what I saw there….

A ‘Men for Men Bangalore’ chat room.

Still naive and fresh.. I created an online id which was my name and so began my first online chat. ‘ASL’. A message in red was directed to my nick name. “Excuse me?” was my response. Before I logged out that night, I had learned what a “Top, Bottom, Versatile” meant..

And of course, I had a guy to meet the next day at the kormanagala 1st block bus stop. And meet we did and had a little chat in his car. I was soon walking out of his car with his phone number (which I never used), but he told me about ‘OutPersonals.com’ (which was more helpful.)

So the next day, I had my profile up on OutPersonals and it allowed me to browse through some interesting profiles who were around my age and with my stats. I was obsessed to find my clone. It was exciting to wait for the response to guys, which mostly were pondering on the physical attributes and a touch of naive emotions.

One such response seemed to come from a prince charming, who proposed we meet at the Cafe Coffee Day on Brigades Road. Four months in the city, and I had never been to Brigades, it was talked as the most posh place and only trendy people went there. I had put on my best jeans and had no proper shoes to go with it. So I stopped on the way to buy me a pair of new summer sandals leaving my old pair of flip-flops in the dustbin outside the shoe store.

Five minutes of wait there, watching passers by wearing blue. I was to be in blue myself, but I tricked myself into wearing white and I knew I was the one who should recognize him. None in blue stopped there and ten minutes later, I saw a guy with long hair and slender legs looking at his watch as he stopped on the side walk opposite Cafe Coffee day. After watching him for couple more minutes, I pulled myself together to talk to him.

I went and stood next to him. But I had no idea what to ask him or what to say to him. After a minute, which seemed like forever I said, ‘Hi, whatz the time?’ He replied, but I wasn’t interested in what he said. I was looking into his eyes, but he wasn’t paying attention. Unable to come up with anything better and to ease the awkwardness, I started to walk away…

As I was getting on to the Richmond road, there was a slight tap on my shoulder from behind. I turned around and was surprised to see him who obviously was taking long steps. ‘Are you Aryan?’ He asked. ‘Yes’ And I don’t remember for how long I was nodding my head.

‘You are not in blue and I was late, so I thought you probably left.’

What followed was a mubble-jumble of naive words which I hardly remember. But what  remains in the memory is the walk we took that evening on Brigades and MG Road. Met few of his friends and had coffee and then he asked me if I was interested in a movie ‘Bicentinial Man’.

He was a man of little words and I was someone who didn’t know what to speak. But he seemed to know what he was doing and I was willing to follow him everywhere. After the  movie, we were riding back and soon we were entering his apartment and I didn’t question it…What followed was like a dream that was of utmost pleasure and sweetness. As I slept that night cuddling him, I didn’t want anything more than that moment to last forever.

The morning soon dawned and it was time for me to excuse myself before his parents knocked on his door. As I walked back home, I had the most cheerful smile. The lack of sleep didn’t seem to matter. And I new what being in seventh heaven meant.

Not too long after that sweet night, we met again for shopping and dinners and lengthy phone calls. The phone calls were funny, because neither of us were talkers and usually I was at work and he at home. So he would end up describing me the birds in the back yard or sometimes tell some silly jokes.

I was in my new home now and I have been waiting for him to come. This was his first time to my place and so I was eager to show him everything from my collection of pens and books and photographs.. Finally it was time to listen to him. He told me he was going through a break up and he can’t continue anymore. I told him it was cool, but something was broken in me and I don’t remember when he left.

The fairy tale just ended. The sweetness of love had just bitten me and I was savoring its bitterness. Took me a while to figure out ‘why’.

Soon the ‘why’ turned to ‘what now’ and eventually I was back on OutPersonals…

Twenty-Nine Now. But that night of April still lingers in my mind…. I just don’t call it ‘love’ anymore, but that doesn’t make it any less bitter sweet..

I happened to see mails floating around on this topic in one of the discussion groups i am part of – ‘movenpick’. However the question itself isn’t very new. In fact, my friends who don’t approve of me being a queer are pretty much determined that it is a choice I have made.

Now, I don’t really have a good answer to that question and wonder if I will ever know it myself. It is for the researchers to decide one way or the other and I will let them do it…

So what is my take on that question?

“I don’t know, but I do know I can’t make myself to be any different than what I am right now. And being queer is being who I really am.”

Of course where I am right now is because of several conscious choices that probably followed that one unconscious chance.. So I do wonder sometimes, what I would have been if I hadn’t been home alone with my neighbor on that summer vacation.

I was eight-years I think and he was twelve. As luck would have it, he was to entertain me that sunny afternoon while our folks had some ‘grown-up’ things to do. So after running out of ideas to keep me busy, he decided it was time to bring in more kids and play hide and seek.

So we started hide and seek, and I followed him to the hiding place which was a closet in his parents bedroom. And we did more than just hiding there, before we were eventually found and caught in the act… which followed quickly by happy screams..

Of course,  the screams were due to being ‘found’ and not for the act itself. (Think of it today, and I can see what ‘found’ really meant.)

That summer, we happened to have more chances of hide and seek. It is just that, we stopped playing with other kids and it would just be me and him.. In the house, under the sheets or at the lake that we used to frequent with bicycles.

That summer, was our last summer together.

But as I see it now, it sure was a chance.

So did that help me discover myself? or have I made the choice to continue pursuing what I enjoyed the most?

Whatever it might be, I would not have it any other way..

memories of my first kiss, so vivid but yet so long ago. It feels like a dream..

It was in the kindergarten class room and I was just over three years.. There I was, french kissing the dude next to me. The only thing I remember was that feeling of the kiss and then my Teacher standing over us with a slender long cane. Her eyes were popping out of her glasses. She was truly speech less. (Of course, one doesn’t get to see a public display of affection in the village.)

With teacher, there were dozen other little eyes staring at us.

After what seemed like an eternity, I looked at my new found crush.. blinked my eyes and then stretched my hands to take the undeserving(or may be deserving..) cane shots..

Anyways I shut my eyes so tight, that the memory of what happened next disappeared.

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