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As I turned around with a stern face (with music blaring through my earphones) when touched on my shoulder in the pushy queue while disembarking from the plane, the guy touching my shoulder smiled and showed his thumbs up pointing to my hair and smiled back.
I noted rather nice tattoo on his arm and reciprocated by putting my thumb up and he beamed.
Often no words are exchanged and yet such gestures of appreciation toward strangers make us feel that the world is not such a bad place after all.
Well, so who am I?
You would spot me with two mufflers in jam packed conferences, wearing long cut oily hair, shinning eyes, smiling face and politics embedded nature, speaking in a well knit and cohesive fluent English, excellent body gestures and an insightful ‘mental unscrewing’ speech.
In the past, if someone said to me “you look like a woman” because of my long hair etc, I would get a bit defensive and question the assumptions behind the statement. Now I find this perfectly fine and I often respond with a simple “thank you”.
When I was sexually abused as a child (I was less than 10 years old), the faith, the caste or the class of the abuser did not matter. All that mattered was being fearful, guilty, self-conscious, and sensitive and feeling dirty, very dirty. We all experience abuse differently but the commonality is the sense of being abused and feeling ashamed.
It took me many years to realise that my being ashamed was an internalisation of a prejudice that the society engenders; it took many years to realise that many girls and boys suffer from sexual abuse in the hands of mostly adult men and I was not an exception; it took me many years to realise that someone being religious or belonging to a non-dominant caste does not excuse him as an abuser; it took me many years to realise that abuse cannot be wished away, but has to be confronted and to confront, we need to speak out.
Any effort to trivialise/explain away abuse by referring to religious, caste, class location of the abuser has to be eschewed with. Like rape, it is about power (power is indeed mediated through these various identities and those belonging to marginalised identities are likely to be easier prey to abuse; this does not change the fact that the sense of being abused is individually experienced) and it is very important that we call it out.
Imagine living one day with the fate of your loved one (parent, child, sibling, lover, partner, friend) unknown in a situation of rampant violence all around. Imagine an entire month, an entire year or even an entire decade. Now, imagine thousands of people living in a limbo as their loved ones are forcibly disappeared for 20-25 years. At the very least, the sheer inhumanity of the practice has to be acknowledged by us who are not victims.
Unlike other years, I am certain what picture captured my most important moment – one where I went public about my sexual identity and felt freed of an enormous burden of being in closet. Not only non-heterosexist but also non-heterosexual and feeling free.
One thing I have learnt in life is to never be so dependent on others that they destroy my well being. And I intend to protect myself. I’d rather be selfish than be self-destructive for the latter only brings misery without helping anyone else.
Every time I bid goodbye with heavy heart to my family and embark on an overnight journey, the only solace I have are comic books. I used to read them as a kid more than two decades ago. I bought these as part of my pre New Year resolution to read comics, story books and watch animation. It sounds childish, but it takes a gargantuan effort to keep faith in life when we see often the slyest, insincere and nasty persons getting it so easy while those who are sincere and hard working struggle.
I derive my sense of bright colours, care for others, sentimentality and emotional mushiness from the most favourite person in the whole wide world – my mom. And at other times when there is nothing around to make you smile (horrible weather, exhaustion, stress) other than the fact that you are taking a selfie and it is cruel not to smile.
Saying bye to animal and human friends as well as still young, young and very young friends and resolving I shall always remember those who stand by me when I am vulnerable.
My favourite teachers are those who taught me how to be curious, introspective, humble and open-hearted and not be self-hating or for that matter other-hating. I also keep the memories of words, silences, gestures, laughs, ideas, snacks, feelings, memories of friendships alive with me.
It was tough to accept my sexuality. But then, it liberated me.
Surely you cannot believe in God and be a homophobe because if God made everyone and made some of us homosexuals/bisexuals/transgendered, and so on, it is God’s will?
Our sexuality is not simply a matter of choice but integral to our identity, it is not about behaviour but an important part of who we are.If you have a problem with non-heteronormative sexualities, either blame God or reflect how you are questioning God’s wisdom in creating many of us.
Don’t be blasphemous, don’t be homophobic.
Sometimes, I wonder how a hard working spider builds web between the branches of two different trees. If only humans could focus on building webs rather than breaking them most of the time!
Eventually, it is better to focus on ideas rather than people; it is advisable not to spend too much time on social networks slandering and gossiping about individuals; learn from experience of other occupied societies; write well; go out of comfort zone to research different areas; accept that you have to be better than the occupiers in order to do credible journalism and challenge the colonial narratives; colonisers will seek to appropriate you but the onus is on you to negotiate the minefield of resistance and complicity; do not obsess about judging others who out of compulsion of livelihood have to work with the system, especially when you yourself may have to do the same given the vice like hold of colonial empire; be ready to take risks.
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