When I was a teenager, talking to boys, interacting with them... was taboo. Keep away from them, never be seen with one, was the dictat.
" Tumchi mulgi saral valnachi aahe ho. Khali maan ghaloon chaltey. Kadhi kuthlya mullashi boltana baghitley nahi ho ", certified the neighbour.
And then I joined a Diploma after the graduation . I was all of 20.
There was this goofy smile wala hunk in the class. Tall, fair, a winning smile, a thick mop of hair, which kept falling on the forehead... that reminded me of Dennis (the menace )
Classes were held in the evening and most often we happened to take the same bus home.. I got down at Andheri and he and his friend carried on ahead.
And we got talking.
I was on the look out for a job.. I got an interview call and was selected too. They were on the look out for more trainees… and one day in class he happened to mention that he was looking for an opening too. I asked him to come to my workplace. He did, he cleared the test, the GD and the interview and was selected too.. and guess what... we found ourselves in the same team.
From then on. for the next 3 months, we spent every minute together. We went to work together, we walked in the same territory, shared a frugal lunch together , went to college together and after class, traveled homeward, together.
He was the hunk.. the handsome hunk. My female friends at work were envious that I got so much time to spend with him.
Once the initial awkwardness between us wore off, he became my best friend. and the warmest friend anybody could have. The bloke had a beautiful heart too.
Unlike my adolescent daughter, I used to share every moment of the day with my mom.. My mum who was on her guard , always the cautious one, looking out for her daughter who had just stepped out into the real world,- took an instant liking for D. She was happy that he was always by my side.
Later on too, even when I quit the job, and there were social occasions as part of the (ex) office gang, if D was around, I could go. There weren't even the courtesy's of him picking me up from or dropping me home… that he was at the party was enough to convince my mum that 'all izz well'
We were friends,, buddies.. but there was no romantic involvement from both our sides.. Infact he was the one I confided in, when I had my first big crush. It had helped that the 3 of us were classmates and friends otherwise too.
He was always around for me ... with a kerchief, the broad Punjabbi shoulder and soothing words .. word that didn’t always make sense, but always reeked of a sincerity – my well being.
I quit the job after 3 months and soon the course got over too.
We kept in touch... meeting off and on.
He was a part of every heartache of mine ..... Lending a patient ear, while I was sorting out my emotions.
When I was to get married, he was happy for me.
After abt 5 yrs, I met another dear friend of mine who was my colleague at the workplace where D and I worked. Our husbands met and me and my friend spoke abt D. The friend's husband grinned and said, "Oh , D"… and he made a typical hand gesture. To imply a homosexual. And I was stunned.
D was gay?... could be gay?... I had never realized it... never sensed it... Was it why mum was so comfortable, though she had never met him.,,, .. that he wasn’t a threat? I had never read the signs… back then being gay meant being happy .. there was never a talk about homosexuals. That wasn’t a commonly used word. I was shocked out of my wits.
He was caring.. I talked to him as I talked with my gal friends. We laughed, we sniggered… we bitched.. he was sensitive… yaa… sensitive. Was it that?
i was confused.
D. I think it was he who helped shape my relationships/ behaviour. with the other guys. I was never intimidated by D. I could be honest with D. I could be me....
He was my first male friend. And the bestest one I have had.
We haven’t met for over 19 yrs… we haven’t spoken for over 2 yrs. .He never calls... not even when i call him a day before my birthday, reminding him to call me the next day, "tu mar gaya hai ya zinda hai... pata karna tha, so fone kiya!" ... this was how our conversation began each time i had called him . . And every time , we have conversed with the same ease and carried on from where we had stopped last
Gay or a homosexual -- i do not know. Gay or a homosexual i do not want to know. Gay or a homosexual i do not care. . Gay or a homosexual I respect him. Gay or a homosexual I am fond of him, Gay or a homosexual D is my friend
D came back to my thoughts today........ I had been to see the play Dushyantapriya. A play in marathi which gets you to think of homosexuals as individuals in their own right.. not as outcasts.
A play within a play... highlighting their woes, the pressures they face..the acceptance they seek...
The play was well written....well worded. The actors were an enthusiastic bunch... sincere in their acting.
"बुद्धी maantey pan man maanat nahi"…was a line in the play.
My heart accepts. 'बुद्धी ' .... i think i have no use for it.