Wednesday, November 25, 2015

BIG LOVE

Rahman stood shivering in the cold evening . His jacket was insufficient protection. It was pride march day and a few thousand queer , LGBT people throughout the city and some from other parts were marching, singing and dancing along. Rahman had decided to attend the march for ideological reasons though the solidarity he felt, at an emotional level, was deeply authentic. The irascibility of his family regarding his homosexuality had escalated into a heated quarrel during the day. His father's oft repeated and undisguised contempt for what Rahman stood for and who he was, his mother's hapless , non committal  goodwill and his sibling's imperviousness, augmented self loathing. To not 'come out' was a choice he could have availed of but in his desire for acceptance he had opened himself up to his family. It was after this revelation that the contingent nature of love was driven home to him as something intrinsic. He could never attain total acceptance. It was as though he had placed an impassable boulder to his father's ostensibly unconditional love. There were conditions and he knew that while some he could acquiesce to the question of identity and sexuality rendered retraction or pliability inconceivable.

Yet , at this moment, in jantar mantar, where he had travelled to from the metro, a sense of dissociation assailed him. He felt he didn't belong. Being reticent he felt conscious of the celebration and revelry only through the focus point of his self imposed exclusion from it, a segregation heightened by his taciturn temperament. The previous year he had unconvincingly danced a bit himself but this year he felt a profound inertia and disengagement. He was part of the group, believed implicitly in all they stood for and still felt detached, dispassionate. He could also not repress a certain self conscious repugnance at what he perceived to be a bit exhibitionistic. But this thought shamed him and was instantly repressed.

Because he went to , not just protest marches but also lectures , film festivals about and around the queer activities in the city. It was companionship he craved, with people whose choices and predilections accorded somewhat with his. But back at home, amid his father's inveterate petulance was also his hope that Rahman would win that scholarship to cambridge, that a settled job with financial viability would ensure a comfortable existence. Rahman discerned that his father's dislike of his sexual orientation, however deep seated could not dislodge his father's love for him. And yet love, with constraints attached to it felt incompensatory. He loved his father too, respected his intelligence, revered his austerity and believed in it but found a stumbling block for seamless acceptance in this homosexual prejudice . The need for love, felt as an imperative, underscored the lack of the love he sought knowing that such love is never fully possible yet unable to relinquish a remnant of that absoluteness of need, a primeval yearning , unfulfillable but all the more piquant for that.

The pride march, indeed the paraphernalia of the delhi queer calender satiated his ideological expectations but underscored his fundamental deracination. Because he was tormented within, he found gaps in the interstices of a putative wholesomeness. And familial, parental love, the guarentee of unequivocal acceptance, was revealed to be the myth it was. As the division between the inner and outer widened his disquiet thickened.

Today , at this moment he only experienced an intensification of dispossession. There were larger currents around the world that were discomfiting. Paris, Beirut became immovable, undeniable realities of the precariousness of existence. His muslim identity, which he accepted with requisite scepticism and an incontrovertible secular inclusive worldview , would not ensure a smooth passage anywhere. This queer conglomeration of varied people came with their own history . And a certain distrust of groups became increasingly conspicuous to him. To be who he was required a moral certitude which he neither felt within nor could seek validation for  from a compartmentalized wider discourse. He could atomize himself into numerous straitjackets out of expedience but the fictitious nature of dissimulation could never be entirely foregone.

Meanwhile the revelry continued with many hugs and kisses. The reality of his provisionality in the larger scheme of things was something Rahman intuitively knew but couldn't accept with complete clarity. He walked away from the crowd , caught a rickshaw , boarded the metro and came home to prepare for his scholarship. Industriousness , hard work were his passports to worldly success as also a certain necessary self absorption. Meanwhile, constant self awareness would be a momentary reprieve.

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