Thursday, December 3, 2009


He sat on his bed, hugging his legs as close as he could to his chest. Maybe, he thought, just maybe if he held them tight enough he would stop breathing, an all of this would be over.
Why did he have to open his big, fat mouth? Till last week he was Adrian Cherian. Till last week he was one of the school's best football players. Till last week he had at least 3 friends who he considered his best, the kind who would never let him down. Then he started fancying one of them. It wasn't a girl either.
It started off with Adrian wanting to spend more time with Varun than the others. Wanting Varun all to himself. Wanting to impress Varun. But hey, that's normal. They were best friends after all.
Then Adrian caught himself thinking about Varun, and not just ordinary straight thoughts either. That's when he realised he was what he made fun of all the time, different.
What followed was a period of intense self-withdrawal. Adrian avoided talking to everybody, especially Varun. He was worried he would say too much. All his friends were worried about him, Varun included. What's wrong with you dude, they asked. He almost told them.
Then self-deprecation turned to justification. So what if he was not like the others? What was so wrong in being different? They would understand. They'd been his friends since the 6th standard. That was 5 whole years. Yeah, he'd heard them make gay jokes, heck, he'd even made them himself. But they wouldn't cast him out. Specially not Varun. Maybe... maybe Varun would reciprocate his feelings.
So he decided to come out of the closet. He told Varun what he'd become and of his feelings for him. Varun reacted like every adolescent homophobic teenager - with disbelief. "Are you serious man?"
Disbelief quickly turned into revulsion. He avoided Adrian as much as he could. Now Adrian was Gaydrian. Now no one passed the school's best midfielder the ball, for fear of getting too close to him. Now they didn't tell him about practice sessions.
Adrian returned to the present. At least his parents had been supportive. They understood. After Varun's rejection, he hadn't even tried making his other friends sympathise with his plight. Varun had taken to incessantly passing snide comments whenever Adrian was in earshot.
And the worst part was, Adrian continued to love Varun. His bruised heart continued to beat with the hope that Varun might one day care for him again, even if it was just as a friend.
30 Years Later
It never happened. Adrian changed schools the next year, wisely deciding never to reveal his sexual orientation. His parents did not talk about it, and neither did he. He graduated from college, to his friends he was a quiet withdrawn guy, who did not make a single friend. His parents did not bring up the question of getting married, and Adrian never did.
Varun grew up a popular guy, with loads of girlfriends along the way. He got married, fathered a pair of twins, and to everyone was the perfect middle-class husband. He never acted otherwise.
Now Adrian is 46 and alone, all because of a 16 year old teenager who once broke his heart. He never told his secret to anyone again. Nobody knew the real Adrian his entire life. Nobody but me, that is. Varun Malhotra.
I wish I'd told Adrian the reason I'd reacted with such hostility. Life would have turned out so differently for both of us if I had. Adrian had brought to the surface the fears I was having about being gay myself. I too, had increasingly become obsessed with Adrian. I never admitted to myself though, that it was anything more than a healthy friendship. When he told me the truth that eventful afternoon, I chose to walk away from it rather than embrace who I was. In Adrian I saw who I could become - the gay kid everyone made fun of. To protect myself from the same ridicule as Adrian, I spearheaded the anti-gay brigade against him. I never admitted my feelings about him to anyone, including myself.
In this world, it is better not to be different. You are crushed if you are.


He stands there hungry
Emaciated arms
Encompassing all he holds dear
His two children
Equally emaciated, equally hungry
They feed on love
Love for each other
That is all they have left
But it has been three days
Since rations have arrived
Stolen no doubt
By the very people who
Are supposed to deliver them
Well, he reasons,
Maybe those people
Have more children than he
It is understandable
Anything is justified
When you are hungry
So he stands there
With his children