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I am never going to let him walk down those dark alleys that have haunted me for years now and still continue to do. Sometimes I wonder if this is all my fault. Would it have been better if he hadn’t come to stay with me at all? Or if like most people around, I had decided to cover the pothole and not let the stench reach him?
“Hey Kunal”, “Hey..are you even listening to what I am saying?” Ohh, is Amol saying something?
“Yeah..sorry man. I was just..forget it. Tell me, what were you saying?” I tried to feign interest, but Amol knew me better than that.
“Wassup man? Tell me what’s troubling you”, he asked with a genuine concern in his voice.
“Nothing. I was just thinking about what Sam’s friend was talking about in that party”. I am sure something jittered in him as well as he slowly removed his hand from my shoulder and looked solemnly into the blank questioning space.
“No, it’s nothing. I am sure you are just overthinking”. With his trademark all calming smile, he patted my back and said “Oh common on silly, don’t be such a whiner! They are young children. If not they, then will we, boring grown-ups pull each other legs?”
Maybe he is right. Maybe I am just reading too much into this. Maybe it’s all just fine and not what it seemed to me that day. Maybe.. I just hope so! God, this world is such a farce! What am I doing!
I feel I am getting trapped in the conundrum of my own thoughts. Am I making much ado over nothing?
Tring. Tring Tring…Tring Trinnnnnngggg… Damn, I have gone crazy! These insane worries are pounding so hard that they have deafened me to everything around.
“Oh hey Dad. What took you so long to open the door?”
“Hey buddy. No, nothing. I was just upstairs”, well of course I can’t tell him I was sitting an inch away from where I am standing and thinking about his..umm..preferences.
“Oh ok. Well, I would like you to meet my friend Rohit. Rohit this is my dad”, and then pointing towards Amol, he says “and this is..umm..this is my uncle, Amol”. The young chap then exchanges pleasantries in the most cultured and well-kept manner, but I somehow don’t approve of this new friend of Sam’s. Oh, of course! He is the same guy who was at that party. Since when did Sam become such close friends with him?
“Umm dad, we are going upstairs to study”, and even before finishing the sentences the boys were heading upstairs. “Up. Why upstairs? You guys can study in the living room. See, it’s nice and warm here. I will get hot steaming coffees and sandwiches for you to go along” I winked and turned towards the kitchen, but seems like the boys are not so much elated about my hospitality. “No dad. I guess upstairs will be fine. I have my books up there” and there they shoot off.
I turn towards Amol and why is he giving me that look! I raise my hands nonchalantly and he just says “You know something, you are impossible!” and then he furiously walks away.
“Amol, what was that? What did I do that makes me impossible?”
“What was all that no upstairs crap talk about? Don’t elude me Kunal. I know what’s going on in your mind”, he snorts furiously. But this time I can feel that I am right and I so hate it that way. I wish I was wrong but, I know I am not.
“What’s going on? I am just worried about my son. That’s it”, I retorted. “He’s my son too and don’t you forget that”, he instantly snapped at me. “And please for God’s sake there is nothing to be worried about. Our son is absolutely fine and content in his life. Let us leave it at that now please”.
I don’t understand why he is so angry at me. Oh great, now he is banging the door on me. Fine! Let it be. If he wants to pin it on me, then I don’t care.
“And why do you only get to be called his dad? I love him as much as you. In fact, given your behavior now a days, I might as well say that I love him more than you do”. He shouts from inside the room and then from what it seems he throws something on the floor, probably the flower vase. But at this I can understand his anger. He definitely loves him as much as I do, not more for sure.
But, this was the arrangement we had agreed upon when about seventeen years ago, we had to first face the question of Sam’s parentage for his school admissions. It was that day, we first questioned our decision to defy the society and follow our heart.
Principal: “I am really sorry to hear that his parents are no more, but it’s so good to know that there are people like you who know the true meaning of friendship. But, we need to follow a protocol and before admission, we do a complete background check on the parents. Since, you are now guardian for your friends’ son, we would request you to answer a few questions”
I can tell you she had the most reassuring of smiles, ever.
Us: “Of course Ma’am. We would be happy to answer any of your questions”
Principal: “Could you please tell me something about your work, if either of you is married or with whom does Sam stay?”
Amol: “Ma’am, I am a banker and my partner Kunal is a musician. Sam lives with both of us and together we earn enough to afford him all..” He couldn’t even complete his sentence, when the Principal interjected “Sorry, by partner you mean what?”
And I realized our ‘mistake’. Of course, he didn’t get the admission there, because our preferences were not conducive to the ‘healthy’ and ‘cultured’ upbringing of the future of our nation. Irrespective of how many colors the society adds to its display photo, the glasses on their eyes refuse to show any other color to them.
And that is when we decided that for the society I will be his dad and Amol his uncle. How does it feel to call the love of my life my brother? Well, how does it even matter, love after all is the most underrated yet overhyped emotion, no actually, word. If people understood the emotion underlying love, we would not have confined it to gender or objects, but would have felt it in our heart encompassing and unifying our soul.
It’s not easy to be a gay man in this world. My father is disappointed of not seeing himself in me and I am scared of seeing myself in my son. This is why, for the past seventeen years I have been trying to protect my son from my shadow.
And with this whirlwind of thoughts throbbing my head, I drift off to sleep.
The science of physics and the great men have time and again said that if all energy is focused on a thought, it can come alive. And thus springs to life my greatest fear. Sam has left the house, leaving behind just a note:
Don’t worry about me, I am just taking some time off to find answers. Will be back soon.
Don’t fret! What does he mean by that? Where can he go? Amol has called up all his friends, even the guy who came yesterday, but he isn’t anywhere. And what answers? Was something bothering him? He should have discussed it with us.
“Kunal, this is all your fault. I have told you so many times to leave him alone and not pry in his life, but no, you won’t listen to me”, Amol is yelling at the top of his voice now.
“Do you think this is my fault? I didn’t even say a word to him. You think I am not tensed about all this?”, how could he say that to me. I can’t even explain the fury raging within me.
“Oh please Kunal. He is not a kid anymore. He realizes that we are both gay and we are both his dads and he has no qualms about it. How many times do you want to get clarification on that?”
“I don’t need any clarifications. I have just been trying to protect him”
“Protect him from what? From society? From his friends? From himself?”
“Amol, of all the people you should understand this. You know how difficult it has been..”
“What difficult? Come on tell me, what difficulty have you faced? Are you ashamed of being who you are that you want to protect him from becoming you? Tell me, are you embarrassed now that you have vested your oh so special love in a person who has the same anatomy as you?” he is furious now.
“What tangent have you taken Amol! You know it’s not about us. It’s about the society, the people..”
“Oh please just stop this crap now that I have been hearing for years. It’s not about society, it’s not about people. It’s about you and your parents. All these years, you have felt ashamed of who you are because they haven’t accepted your reality and that is exactly what you are doing to your own son”.
It’s been a day since Sam has left on his quest for whatever answers he is seeking and so has Amol. Maybe all of us need some time. Maybe it’s all because of me. Maybe Amol is right. I am doing to Sam what my parents did to me. If only they had understood me, if only they had let me explain myself to them. If only I let Sam understand himself…
Part of the Life collection
Published on February 08, 2016
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