Pratibha was running all across the house. It is a busy day for her – Anaya, her only daughter is getting married today. The Covid 19 has marred the celebration to a great extent, but the excitement of the mother-daughter duo remains intact!
For Anaya, it has been a long, arduous wait. She has been in LOVE only once – she has been in LOVE for the last 10 years – she is madly in LOVE with Riya. They met on the first day of their college. She was looking for her classroom when Riya came to her and asked “Do you need any help?” That was the start of their friendship – seems like an eternity now! They became friends, then BFFs, and then lovers.
But hey, this is not the story of Anaya. It is the story of Pratibha. Going back to the current time, Pratibha was looking for Anaya.
“Have you seen Anaya anywhere? Whenever I need her, she is nowhere to be found!” She asked one of her relatives.
“I think I saw her going to her room.”
“Okay. Thanks a ton.”
She hurried towards Anaya’s room. As she was about to enter the room, she saw Anaya was sitting and crying in front of the mirror. A concerned Pratibha ran towards her “Hey what happened Sona? Are you doing fine? Are you having pre-wedding jitters?” she asked Anaya while gently wiping her tears.
“No no I am fine Mamma,” Anaya said as she tried to compose herself. “I was just thinking of the day I told you about Riya and what happened after that! I never thought I’ll be able to witness this day! Thank you so much Mamma for giving me so much joy by accepting Riya. I love you to the moon and back. You will always remain my everything!”
Those words took Pratibha around 5 – 6 years back to the day which she still remembers vividly. She came back from her office and was having the first sip of her beloved tea when Anaya gave her the news, with a lot of pride! She is in love with Riya. Pratibha was about to keep her cup on the table, but her hand became stagnant! She was shocked – her eyes were still, devoid of any expressions.
Pratibha hails from a ‘normal’ family where everything was ‘normal’. While growing up she never heard terms like ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’. Never heard the word ‘transgender’, only knew about ‘hijras’ and looked at them with amusement as well as awe! Everyone in the family studied the way they were supposed to and got married the way they were supposed to.
It was around 15 years back that she became familiar with the terms gay and lesbian. She was an educated lady working for the last 15 years. She was smart, she was intelligent and she was quite a non-judgemental person. But, for reasons even unknown to her, she detested gays and lesbians.
“There is a decorum to everything. I seriously don’t understand the gay and lesbian thing! How can you marry someone of the same gender? You can love them as a friend not otherwise. All these first World concepts are creeping and ruining the very fabric of our society” she once blabbered those sentences to one of her friends, in utter disgust!
She loathed such relationships so much so that she ended her friendship with one of her very good friends when she came out to her. Her friend tried her best to make her understand that love is love and that everyone does not feel love the same way we have been taught to and habituated with. But nothing was able to change her mind.
When Anaya revealed to her about Riya, the first thing that came to Pratibha’s mind was her long-lost friend. Over time and with more information, Pratibha’s aversion towards the LGBTQ+ community has decreased. She has accepted the fact that such people exist at different corners of the world, some out of the closet and some not. She has become non-judgemental about those people.
This time, however, it was different. She, never in her wildest imaginations thought that this will hit so close to her heart! She found it difficult to gather her thoughts and ideas. Anaya was able to gauge the situation. “Mamma I know you are shocked and presently you are at a loss of everything. You know Riya, you know what she means to me and you know there can be no one better for me than her. You take your time, give our love some thought and some love and let me know about your decision. I will wait for it because you know what that means to me,”
The next few weeks went by too fast. Pratibha remained preoccupied – her mind and her heart were not in sync. She was tormented and was not able to decide. She was looking for a sign – a sign from somewhere that will give her the positive vibes she was so badly hunting for.
It was finally her love for her daughter and her understanding about how love can be ‘different’ from what she has known thus far, that gave her the strength to accept Anaya and Riya as a couple. Before bestowing her blessings to those two beautiful young women, one day Pratibha was sitting with her friend whom she shunned away, ruminating about the thoughts that engulfed her mind for the last few weeks. She was pleasantly surprised by her actions and concluded that getting old is making her wiser.
She said to her friend “Beauty is everywhere, but maybe as I started getting older, I began to see beauty where I least expected it before.” Hearing that her friend came close to her and gave her the tightest and the warmest hug she ever received. That delightful moment was sweetened when Anaya and Riya joined to give her more ‘tight and warm’ hugs.