Vaishnavi Sreenivas
01 Nov 2018

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Amit woke up with the worst headache and groggily sat up in his bed. He had had too much to drink last night. But it was totally justified this time; why shouldn’t he have celebrated? So when his friends shoved bottles into his mouth he let the burning liquids pour through his newly freed throat. He must have reached his house around 4 or 5 in the morning.

He rubbed his eyes and reached for his phone. It was 2 PM. There were many new, unanswered messages on his WhatsApp and Instagram. He went through the long list of chats and opened the one that was from Jai.

“You reached safely? 4.02 AM”
Amit took a deep breath and started typing back.
“Yeah yeah, sorry I didn’t reply last night. Was too tired. Just woke up. See you later today <3”

He kept his phone face-down on his bed and dragged his hung-over body to the bathroom. The cold water felt more than welcome on his face. Each splash of water on his face brought back snippets of memories from last night. The alcohol was unlimited with a special pass at the club and he had set his limbs free amidst the smoke and shower of booze. Ashok, Raj, and Jai had, at one point, hoisted him up and carried him around the dance floor; mainly because he was the smallest of them.

He had just started brushing his teeth when he heard his mother calling him. “Amit! Are you having lunch today or are you going to sleep through that also?”

There was a tinge of irritation in her voice but Amit knew that she wasn’t really angry. Biting down on his toothbrush he shouted through the foam, “Coming ma! Two minutes.”

About ten minutes later, Amit emerged from his bedroom after a refreshing shower. Despite his damp, shampooed hair, his eyes gave away the heaviness of his hangover. His father was lazing on the couch watching TV.

“You didn’t go for work today?” Amit asked as he sat down next to him.
“Ah, Amit! You’re up! Seeing the condition in which you crept into the house last night, I thought you wouldn’t wake up till Monday!” he teased him and laughed out loud at his own joke as Amit groaned.

“That was some crazy party huh Amit?” his mother also joined in on the teasing as she set the plates for lunch.
“Yeah ma,” Amit snickered as he made his way to the table.
“This is all good fun and all but you should be careful okay?” his mother added.
His parents were amongst those who believed in bringing up children in a friendly and open environment without leading them astray. It had worked so far anyway. Amit had turned out pretty good with a promising career and good personality.

“Ashok can you turn up the volume of the TV? I want to hear the news.” Amit’s mother asked his father as he got up to join them at the table.
“Okay, it’s all reports about reactions and repercussion of the Section 377 judgment by the Supreme Court,” Ashok sat down at the table and started serving himself.
Amit waited impatiently to hear what his parents had to say about this news.
“I’m quite impressed with our judicial system today, I have to say!” exclaimed his mother.
“I know right! It’s strange to see our country making such progressive decisions,” his father chimed in.
“Hey everyone can live with dignity and respect,” his mother reached across Amit to grab the bowl of curry.

Amit had never really considered the possibility of opening up about everything to his parents. Despite being open with them about almost everything, he had always kept one part of his life securely away from them. He knew his parents were somewhat liberal and open but he was never really sure what their take on sexuality was.

“Why aren’t you eating beta? I’m sure you must be so hungry,” his mother looked at him softly.
“Yea, yeah ma, I was just a little distracted.”

Amit started tearing the roti with more enthusiasm. He thought about Jai. He had been asking Amit for a really long time to tell his parents everything and properly introduce him to them. But he had always been afraid. He knew what had happened in Jai’s case but Jai always insisted that it could be different because of how open Amit’s parents were. But he had still been wary.

The news was showing the celebrations that had happened on the streets of the capital yesterday. Amit wondered if the camera had caught him also celebrating in the crowd. But he remembered that there were no news crews around his area. His parents were watching intensely and were nodding encouragingly at each point made regarding the success of the battle. For the first time in almost forever, Amit felt that Jai could have been right.

Could he actually let his parents in on his truth? Would everything still stay the same? Amit felt a strong weight against his chest. Was this it? Did he actually have the courage to tell them? He felt a big block in his throat and he reached out for water. The minute he attracted his parent’s attention, he felt like he was ethereal.
“Can you turn down the volume, please? There’s something I want to tell you.”

His parents were still distracted by the TV but they turned their heads and his father absent-mindedly pressed the mute button.
“What is it?”

Amit took a deep breath and let all of himself out. Once he had started, he couldn’t stop. He didn’t dare to look at his parents face until the words stopped coming out of his mouth. Once he was done he felt loose. He felt like his body was floating. There was a special cool lightness to the air around him. He was free.

The deafening silence in the room brought him back into his body.
He looked up at his parent’s faces.

Before you gasp at the abrupt ending and ask what happened next, I just want to interject and say that it doesn’t really matter. There are countless ways to “end” the story, and we respect the current, open-ended nature of it. The premise of the story, “Can someone come out to liberal parents in India?” is what intrigued us, and we hope it gave you lots of food for thought too.

Featured image by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Vaishnavi Sreenivas

I love stories in all shapes and forms. I love telling them, writing them, listening to them, reading them and watching them. It's how I justify binge-watching shows without a sense of time. Youtube and Tumblr aesthetics: top guilty pleasures.

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